What do most people think, when they hear the word 'canyon'? What place do they imagine? Most likely, they're thinking about the Grand Canyon in Arizona, the largest canyon in the United States, one of the largest ones in the whole world, and one of the most scenic places a person can see on this planet. But does it mean that the Grand Canyon is the only canyon we should visit to marvel at its views? In fact, it doesn't. It's not the only canyon that is worth visiting in this land filled with natural beauty to the brim.
There are dozens of other canyons in the United States - in Hawaii, Oregon, California, Pennsylvania, and even Georgia! And all of them deserve to be as well-known as the Grand Canyon. Even though these gorges are smaller than the grand daddy of all canyons, they're still spectacular. They feature amazing hiking opportunities and offer striking views. They allow us to have a look at unique rock formations and go for a kayak ride in their swift-flowing rivers. We can watch sunrises or sunsets there, take multiple photographs, and realize once again how powerful the Mother Nature is.
So take a look at the list of the most beautiful and fascinating canyons in the United States. It doesn't mean that you should skip the Grand Canyon and visit these gorges instead. If you haven't seen the largest canyon in the United States, you should still visit it. But go ahead and visit these 20 canyons, as well, because this way we can pay them their due respect.
20 Antelope Canyon, Arizona
Antelope Canyon in Arizona is one of the most popular slot canyons (it means that it's a deep canyon that was formed due to the water rushing through rock). Tourists, who come there to hike or to take photographs, find it fascinating.
Antelope Canyon consists of two separate canyons that are called Upper and Lower Antelope. Since it's hard to say which one is better, it's recommended to see both of them, if time and budget allow. To visit any of the Antelopes, travelers need to have a permit and a guide, because the canyon is protected by the Navajo Parks and Recreation. The tour to the canyon can cost from $32 to $200.
19 Bryce Canyon, Utah
Bryce Canyon is a captivating and unique place, because it offers visitors to see an extremely high concentration of rock pillars, called hoodoos. Due to these hoodoos, Bryce Canyon is extremely photogenic. You can pick any spot to take a photo and it'll surely look wonderful.
Go to the Bryce Canyon National Park and climb the Bryce Point early in the morning to see the most mesmerizing sunrise ever. Then head to the so-called Inspiration Point and look at the amphitheater of hoodoos. Do a lot of hiking along the numerous trails and be sure to reach the Rainbow Point to get the striking view of Southern Utah.
18 Waimea Canyon, Hawaii
Waimea Canyon is Hawaii, one of the most colorful gorges on the planet, is frequently called the Grand Canyon of the Pacific, because it's also large and immensely beautiful. Hiking there, you can't help but realize how small you are, compared to the powers of the nature.
Waimea Canyon stretches 14 miles (22 kilometers) long and 1 mile (1.6 kilometer) wide, and over 3,600 feet (1 kilometer) deep. Whether you're a beginner or an experienced hiker, you should go for a walk along this magnificent gorge and take a look at its buttes and crags. And when you get to the viewpoint, you'll realize that you've never been happier in your life.
17 Breaks Canyon, Kentucky & Virginia
Located on the border or Kentucky and Virginia, Breaks Canyon is part of the Breaks Interstate Park that's managed by both states. And guess what, for its beauty, this canyon is called The Grand Canyon of the South!
Visitors can find a lot of things to do in Breaks Canyon. It features long miles of mountain biking and hiking trails for hikers. Kayakers may have a fun ride on the Russel Fork River and experience its Class V rapids. Besides, the canyon offers world-class rock climbing options, as well as a visitor center, where you can learn more about the place's history and nature.
16 Palo Duro Canyon, Texas
Palo Duro Canyon in Texas is the second largest canyon in the United States (after the famous Grand Canyon, of course). Like many other gorges on our list, it's part of a huge park complex. The canyon is 120 miles (190 kilometers) long, six miles (9.7 kilometers) wide, and 800 feet (250 meters) deep. Headwaters carved it out of sandstone, mudstone, shale, and other sedimentary rock. It features a number of caves, hoodoos, and other rock formations.
Visit Palo Duro Canyon to do some hiking, horseback riding, mountain biking, and to just enjoy the Mother Nature! Be sure to take the Lighthouse Trail to see the great view of rock towers.
15 Pine Creek Gorge, Pennsylvania
Now we proceed to the Grand Canyon of Pennsylvania, aka Pine Creek Gorge. The deepest point of this 47-mile (76 kilometer) canyon is 1,450 feet (440 meters). If you'd like to reach it, go to the southern part of the gorge.
Pine Creek Gorge was formed roughly 20,000 years ago, when the Laurentide Continental Glacier dammed it and formed a lake that later overflowed and carved a deep channel. It used to serve as a major route of travel for Native Americans and now it's one of the biggest tourist attractions in the state of Pennsylvania. Come there to hike, see its picturesque landscapes, and watch the rich flora and fauna!
14 Black Canyon of the Gunnison, Colorado
Tall steep walls of Black Canyon in Colorado don't allow much sun to get to its bottom. As a result, some of the parts of the gorge get only a bit over 30 minutes of sunlight during the day. This is exactly the reason why it's called Black Canyon.
So most likely, when you come to visit the canyon, all you'll be able to do is take a North Vista Trail and reach the Green Mountain to see the breathtaking view of the gorge. And this is it, unless you're into extreme sports and would like to take a ride along mostly hidden paths, where you can find plenty of bears, poison ivy, and dead ends. If you think you're ready for such an adventure, be sure to pack a sweater, because it can get very cold in Black Canyon.
13 Kings Canyon, California
Kings Canyon is one of the deepest gorges in the United States. It's over a mile (1,600 meters) deep and it features a number of 14,000-foot (4,300 meters) peaks, as well as swift-flowing rivers and marvelous meadows. But the main feature of the canyon is world's largest grove of giant sequoia trees.
If you visit Kings Canyon, you certainly won't regret. After all, you'll see some of the most beautiful views and enjoy gazing at the blankets of green grass and colorful wild flowers. Besides, you'll find a number of opportunities to do climbing or hiking in this magnificent place. And if you don't really like going by foot, at least take a car ride through the canyon to marvel at its beauty.
12 Buckskin Gulch, Utah
Buckskin Gulch in Utah is another slot canyon. This canyon is considered not only the deepest and the longest slot canyon in southwest United States, but also in the entire world. Its length is more than 13 miles (21 kilometers).
Just like Antelope Canyon, Buckskin Gulch is strictly regulated and you need to have a permit to spend a day hike there. Also, keep in mind that only 20 overnight hikes are given every day and, if you go with your friends, the size of your group should be limited to 10 persons. Since the canyon is very popular, you should book your permit several months in advance.
11 Royal Gorge Canyon, Colorado
One of the deepest and narrowest canyons in Colorado, Royal Gorge Canyon is a hot spot for bungee-jumping, base-jumping, and rock climbing. Besides, it's... Well, before stating this fact, I should warn those who are afraid of the height to get ready. So, the Royal Gorge Bridge situated over this canyon is officially called the highest jump platform in the world. I don't know about you, but I feel like my palms are sweating right now!
But if you can stop thinking about this enormous height, you will realize how amazing Royal Gorge Canyon is. It offers astonishing views and unforgettable experiences to all its visitors. So be prepared to fight your fears!
10 Santa Elena Canyon, Texas
Santa Elena Canyon is part of the Big Bend National Park in Texas. It's a rather large park that has an extremely rich flora and fauna. Besides, this area isn't only beautiful, but it also carries a huge archaeological and historical significance. A number of dinosaur bones, sea fossils and volcanic dikes were found there.
Obviously, Santa Elena Canyon is popular among tourists. It offers a lot of opportunities, from hiking and paddling a river to just gazing at the beautiful scenery. You can also come there to watch birds and ride a horse. Anyone may find something to their taste in Big Bend, so be sure to add this canyon to your Bucket List!
9 Island in the Sky Mesa, Utah
Part of the Canyonlands National Park that resembles a Martian landscape, Island in the Sky Mesa is certainly one of the main attractions of this nature reserve. As of 2016, over 70% of the park's visitors came there to see this exact place. And it's no wonder why they did it. Island in the Sky doesn't only have the most romantic name possible. It also features amazing views and a striking range of saturated orange and red colors.
So if you want to see this magnificent nature-made arc overlooking a number of buttes and gaze at the sun rising behind it, come to the Canyonlands National Park at the right hour!
8 Canyon De Chelly, Arizona
Canyon de Chelly lies within the boundaries of the Navajo Nation. Till these days, this area preserves the ruins of indigenous tribes that used to live there. No part of it is federally owned, yet it remains one of the most visited national monuments in the country.
If you want to access the park, you should know that the regulations are extremely strict. First and foremost, any visitor needs to be accompanied by an authorized Navajo guide or by a park ranger. But if you really want to see the renown Spider Rock (a tall sandstone spire), as well as Antelope House Ruin and White House Ruin, don't hesitate and find a way to get a permission to visit Canyon de Chelly.
7 Hells Canyon, Oregon, Washington & Idaho
Hells Canyon is one of the deepest gorges in North America. It stretches from the waters of the Snake River to the peaks of Seven Devils Mountains. Its gorges were partly formed by massive floods in the times of the Ice Age and about 6 million years ago the Snake River began carving it. Now it attracts a number of people, who want to see this magnificent natural creation.
Coming to Hells Canyon, you can engage into so many activities. If you like ground activities, go hiking or camping. If you like water sports, you're free to try kayaking or rafting. Whatever you do, you'll enjoy staying there and wonder why on Earth this marvelous place was called Hells Canyon.
6 Providence Canyon, Georgia
You might be surprised that the state of Georgia has a canyon, but, in fact, it does and it's beautiful! However, it wasn't naturally created, like all other canyons from this list. Providence Canyon formed as a result of poor farming practices in the 19th century, when unlucky farmers cut down too many trees in the area and soon were punished for their mistakes by the natural erosion processes they launched.
As you can see, there are no farms in Providence Canyon today. However, there are a lot of hiking trails and camping sites for the tourists, who want to gaze at the brightly colored walls of the canyon.
5 Columbia River Gorge, Oregon
Columbia River Gorge was designated as a protected botanical area by the U.S. Forest Service, because it has a number of one-of-a-kind woodland and aquatic plants growing throughout the canyon. The gorge stretches for over 80 miles (130 kilometers) and its deepest point is 4,000 feet (1,200 meters).
The canyon features dozens of waterfalls, including Multnomah Falls, the most notable one of all. Columbia River Gorge is a great area for sight-seeing, hiking, biking, and, of course, doing different kinds of water sports. Pick the activity you like the most and come to Oregon to visit this amazing place and get a once-in-a-lifetime experience!
4 Kern Canyon, California
Kern Canyon is part of the Sequoia National Park in California that has a deepest point of 6,000 feet (over 1,800 kilometers). Just like most other canyons in this list, it features a number of hiking trails, where you can easily walk and enjoy the stunning scenery around you. And if you get tired, you can find a hot spring and take a rest in it. Just know that you won't be the only one there. This spot is a popular recreational area for backpackers.
After taking a rest, you may continue your hike and, perhaps, even reach the summit of Mount Whitney, the tallest mountain in California with an elevation of 14,505 feet (4,421 meters) above the sea level.
3 Zion Canyon, Utah
Located in the Zion National Park, Zion Canyon is a unique place that offers spectacular views and amazing hiking experiences. Besides, it's very easy to reach it, because it's accessible via two roads.
However scenic it is, Zion Canyon isn't the easiest hike in the world. If you want to see as many landmarks as possible, get very good shoes as well as other necessary equipment and be prepared to have to walk in the water from time to time. You might think that it's too much of an inconvenience, but better think about the sights you're going to see there. They're totally worth it!
2 Glen Canyon, Arizona
Part of a large system of canyons, Glen Canyon was carved by the Colorado River a long time ago. It encompasses over 1.25 million acres and provides a myriad of opportunities to tourists with any taste. There are numerous hiking trails and water-based sports opportunities, as well as magnificent views and amazing panoramas from viewpoints. Besides, you can also sign up for a ranger-led hike to learn more about this fascinating place.
The most popular site in Glen Canyon is the Horseshoe Bend you can see in the photo above. It's easy to understand why visitors like this site, because it offers to take a look at a unique natural marvel and it's truly amazing.
1 Nine Mile Canyon, Utah
Despite its name, Nine Mile Canyon is almost 40 miles (60 kilometers) long. It was named after the Nine Mile Creek that formed the canyon thousands of year ago. In the 1880s, the canyon became the main transport corridor in the region and was home to multiple ranches. Now it serves as a recreation spot for a number of tourists, who like hiking the canyons.
The most interesting feature about Nine Mile Canyon is the series of petroglyphs and pictographs drawn on its rocks. Most of them were created by the Ute people and the Fremont culture, who lived there long before the European settlers arrived to the continent. Due to these drawings, the canyon is frequently called "the world's longest art gallery". Excited to come there, or to any other canyons from this list?
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