Park officials, first responders push safety measures at Little River Canyon National Preserve

Park rangers are emphasizing safety at Little River Canyon

DEKALB COUNTY, Ala. (WAFF) - Little River Canyon is one of north Alabama’s most popular outdoor destinations, but it’s also gained a darker reputation.

Last year, Forbes ranked the national preserve the fifth deadliest in America. Since 2016, 16 people have died at Little River Canyon.

More than 800,000 people visited Little River Canyon National Preserve last year, which is a 20 percent increase from 2019.

Park Ranger and Public Information Officer Matt Switzer said when the pandemic hit, more people wanted to go outside and enjoy the weather.

However, those higher crowds resulted in more incidents. Four people drowned last year and first responders had to respond to more than 50 rescue calls in the park.

Switzer wants visitors to be aware of what can contribute to a dangerous situation.

”So, when a lot of visitors come out, they’re hanging out below little river falls, or they are down at little falls. The water may be almost neglectable, so the pools tend to be a little calmer. And in the cases, we were seeing early on the river was moving rather swiftly and it only takes about 6 inches of water to sweep someone off of their feet. So, I think we had a lot of visitors not use to the conditions they were seeing,” said Switzer.

Switzer said this year, more volunteers are at the park to help monitor visitors. He asked visitors to wear proper shoes when they are out at the park to ensure better footing and safety.

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