Canyon Land Park & Zoo

Close up of a postcard showing a chairlift going into the canyon and a miniature train pulling visitors in the foreground.
A close-up of a vintage Canyon Land Park & Zoo postcard featuring the canyon chairlift and the miniature train.

NPS archives


 
A black and white picture of the chairlift after construction.
Test run of the newly built chair lift into Little River Canyon.

NPS archives

It all began with a dream and the purchase of 60 acres along the rim of the Little River Canyon. On March 8, 1970, Millard Weaver opened Canyon Land Park & Zoo, complete with carnival-type rides, miniature golf course, zoo, campground, live entertainment, and a 1,500 foot long chair lift from the rim down into the canyon to the Little River, which was then part of De Soto State Park. For $1.50 (one-way), riders would descend into the 600 foot deep canyon where they could enjoy a picnic, hiking, and fishing along the Little River, or take a swim in the river itself from the sandy beaches.

 
Four images - black and white pictures are at either side, the first of two men in front of the park entrance, the second of a little girl on a carnival ride with a chimpanzee, and two color postcards are in the middle showing the chairlift to the canyon.
Pictures and postcards from Canyon Land Park & Zoo.

NPS archives


 
A black and white picture of the Collinsville Train Depot building.
The Collinsville Train Depot, relocated to Canyon Land Park & Zoo as a miniature train depot and souvenir & gift shop.

NPS archives

A 103 year old train depot from nearby Collinsville was relocated to Canyon Land, and was converted to a souvenir and gift shop, and used as the depot for a miniature train which offered visitors a ride around the park.

 
A group of six men on a stage playing guitars, drums, a fiddle, and a mandolin.
Actor and country singer Gordon Terry playing the fiddle - the backing band (in matching shirts and pants) is Wildcountry, who would go on to become superstar country band Alabama.

NPS archives

The live entertainment was a large draw at Canyon Land. A few of the notable musical performances were given by country singer and actor Gordon Terry, country singer and author Jeanne Pruett, and a local band from Fort Payne called Wildcountry. Wildcountry would go on to change their name and become the most awarded band in the history of country music - Alabama.

 
A young lady holding a lion cub stands beneath the entrance sign for Canyon Mouth Park & Zoo.
A lion cub was among the many animals attractions at Canyon Land Park & Zoo.

NPS archives

The beginning of the endof the park came with Weaver's passing in 1973. Change of ownership, court battles, and a greater emphasis by the state to move away from the carnival atmosphere led to an inital closure of Canyon Land in the late 1970's. Weaver's son, Jackie, reopened the park in 1982, but the property was put up for saile again in 1985, and so sits today.

 

Signs of Canyon Land Park & Zoo can still be seen along the Eberhart Trail and at the river - chairlift tower footings, rock wall remenents, and picnic tables can be spotted through the thick vegetation, reclaimed by the woods, a testament to the long history of LIttle River Canyon as a tourist destination.

 
Three pictures of remains of Canyon Land Park & Zoo - partial rock walls, a faded sign reading "Do Not Pick Flowers", and a covered patio.
Remains of Canyon Land Park and Zoo are still found at the bottom of the Eberhart Trail.

NPS / Matt Switzer


Last updated: March 26, 2021

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Contact Info

Mailing Address:

4322 Little River Trail NE Ste 100
Fort Payne , AL 35967

Phone:

256 845-9605 x201
Main phone number for Little River Canyon National Preserve.

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