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Congress added Little River Canyon National Preserve to the National Park System in 1992. It protects 14,000 acres of the 199-square-mile Little River watershed and many rare, threatened, and endangered species of plants and animals. Alabama's DeSoto State Park, a long-established vacation area with resort lodge and other accomodations, lies within the Preserve boundary and is a partner in its operation.
It is one of the nations's longest rivers that forms and flows for most of its length atop a mountain. Then it plunges off the Cumberland Plateau at the head of the Little River Canyon. Beginning at 1,900 feet above sea level at Weiss Lake. The result is one of the most extensive canyon and gorge systems in the eastern United States and one of the South's clearest, wildest waterways. No more than a trickle in the dry summer months, the river surges with the rainfall in the cooler months.
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