(Media release from Little River Canyon National Preserve):
2021 was a record high year for visitation at Little River Canyon National Preserve. Little River Canyon recorded 862,606 visitors for the year. By comparison, 2020 brought 802,375 visitors to the park. Increases in visitation occurred as follows:
January: Up 44.09% May: Down 3.62% September: Up 8.88%
February: Down 31.66% June: Up 23.96% October: Down 0.54%
March: Down 6.37% July: Up 17.58% November: Up 10.01%
April: Up 16.19% August: Up 3.38% December: Up 27.31%
The trend has continued for the month of January 2022, with the park seeing an increase in visitation by 0.42%, and February is on track to exceed 2021 visitation as well.
Many visitors in the Spring and Summer of 2020 and 2021 experienced frustrations of limited parking availability at the Little River Falls and Blue Hole parking lots. These areas are extremely popular with visitors coming to recreate in and around the river. Park staff were seeing an average of 2,500 visitors every Saturday and Sunday vying for the 174 parking spaces at Little River Falls and Blue Hole.
As 2022 visitation is already trending higher than 2021, the National Park Service would like to give potential visitors the following tips and reminders to make their visit to Little River Canyon as enjoyable and safe as possible.
During the summer months the Little River Falls parking lot is usually full by 11:00 AM (CST), so those who would like to enjoy the view of Little River Falls or would like to hike the trail to Little Falls (aka: “Hippie Hole”) should plan to arrive early.
The parking areas at the overlooks along the Little River Canyon Rim Parkway / AL Highway 176 are 30-minute parking only, and parking at Blue Hole is only for visitors to that location. Parking is also available at the Little River Canyon Center during normal business hours and holiday weekends.
HAVE A BACK-UP PLAN
Parking areas will have National Park Service staff and volunteers conducting parking control to help visitors in parking quickly and safely. Park staff reopen lots after 10 vehicles leave to ensure that an appropriate amount of spaces are available and vehicles are not parked illegally. Should your favorite area at Little River Canyon National Preserve not be available due to a full parking lot, please have a back-up plan in mind. Little River Canyon offers numerous recreational opportunities, many of which you can find on our website at nps.gov/liri.
Other opportunities can be found within a relatively short drive of Little River Canyon National Preserve, to include DeSoto State Park, Buck’s Pocket State Park, Lake Guntersville State Park, and Weiss Lake in Alabama, and Cloudland Canyon State Park and James H. Floyd State Park in Georgia.
While visiting Little River Canyon National Preserve, it is your responsibility to protect yourself and others from COVID-19 exposure. Little River Canyon National Preserve and the National Park Service have been taking extraordinary steps to implement the latest guidance from the White House, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and state and local public health agencies.
The CDC has made the following recommendations to help people recreating in parks and open spaces to prevent the spread of infectious diseases:
- Masks are required outside when 6 foot social distancing is not possible
- Masks are required at all times inside buildings
- Visit parks close to your home
- Prepare before you visit
- Stay at least 6 feet away from others
- Play it safe around and in swimming areas
- DO NOT visit parks if you are sick or were recently exposed to COVID-19
- DO NOT visit crowded parks
ALCOHOL, GLASS CONTAINERS, FIRES, and PYROTECHNICS
Alcoholic beverages, glass containers (for food or beverages), fires, and fireworks and firecrackers are NOT permitted at Little River Canyon National Preserve.
The National Park Service works to reduce risks, but your safety is in your own hands. We here at Little River Canyon National Preserve would like visitors to come prepared, stay alert, and return home safe with memories of a wonderful visit.
For more information, please contact Park Ranger/Public Information Officer Kaleb Kleiss Hoeft at 256-845-9605.