Northern Alabama has a number of attractions that draw visitors to the area throughout the year. There is no way we could cover all the interesting destinations in this region, so we’ll take a look at five that may lead you to spending a weekend at the top of the state.
Located in Phil Campbell, Alabama this 85-acre privately owned conservatory offers visitors a unique stroll along Dismals Branch through the sandstone gorge. Home to the dismalites, a blue-green light emitting fly, the canyon provides a 1.5 mile hike filled with photo opportunities. Two waterfalls, six natural bridges, and one of the largest Canadian hemlocks in the region; you are sure to have an enjoyable time. They also offer cabin rents, primitive camping, and good treats from the Soda Fountain & Grill. Admission is charged. For full details about the park, visit their website www.dismalscanyon.com
Established in 1937, this famous final resting place for coon dogs attracts visits worldwide. Established by Key Underwood with the burial of his coon dog Troop, the cemetery has grown to nearly 200 coon dogs from all over the nation. With strict requirements for burial, only certificated authentic coon dogs can be laid to rest on the ground. And each Labor Day, a celebration with music, dancing, food and a liar’s contest is held. Learn more at www.coondogcemetery.com
Four acres of religious miniatures attract visitors to Cullman, Alabama St. Bernard Abbey. The Grotto was selected and the first miniatures built by Brother Joseph Zoettl in 1934. Brother Joseph, born in Landshut, Bavaria in 1878, came to Saint Bernard in 1892 and in 1933 began his vision using everyday material to construct gorgeous miniature replicas of religious structures. Today 125 miniatures adore the walking path where visitors can gaze at his marvelous works. Brother Joseph built his last model, the Basilica in Lourdes, at the age of 80 in 1958. Today, you can still feel his dedication as you stroll the pathway through the garden. Admission is charged. You can learn more at www.avemariagrotto.com
Located east of Huntsville, Alabama, Monte Sano State Park is host to 1930 era CCC rustic cabins, hiking trails, picnic areas and modern campsites. Several scenic overlooks can be found in the park. Once hike worth the walk is the 3 ½ mile round trip hike in Monte Sano State Park will take you past the South Plateau Overlook which has a panoramic view of the surrounding countryside. A disc golf course is also a fun play for the whole family. Learn more at www.alapark.com/monte-sano-state-park
A U.S. monument established in 1961 attracts a number of visitors each year. Comprised of 310 acres, visitors can hike, picnic and bird watch on the quiet grounds. Russell Cave, ranked 90th longest cave in the United States with 7.2 miles of underground passages mapped, is the main attraction. Prehistoric Indians began using the cave for shelter as early as 1000 BC; whereas continued use of the cave lasted through the Woodland and Mississippian periods. The museum contains archeological findings and extensive research of the area. For more information visit their website www.nps.gov/ruca