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23 Deep Canyons Worth Exploring

If you’re the explorer type and if earning badges or selling cookies is a bit too 1970s for you, than please pay attention. Canyons can be the most committing — and rewarding — places to hike, paddle, climb, float, you name it. It doesn’t matter if you’re there to take pictures or immerse yourself deep in the backcountry, it’s one experience you will never forget. Allow me to help out, and reveal to 23 deep canyions worth exploring. Check it out!

1. Glen Canyon, Arizona, US

Glen Canyon, Arizona, US

Within Glen Canyon National Park, which covers an area over 1.2 million acres, Horseshoe Bend is an incredible spot along the Colorado River where the river bends so sharply, it almost completes a circle. Stunning.

2. Coyote Buttes, Arizona, US

Coyote Buttes, Arizona, US

“The Wave” in the Coyote Buttes North Area of Paria Canyon-Vermilion Cliffs Wilderness Area is a section of multicolored carved sandstone, looking out-of-this-world. I mean, Star Wars scenes coud easily be shot here.

3. Bryce Canyon, Utah, US

Bryce Canyon, Utah, US

Bryce Canyon’s iconic landscape is composed of pillars of sedimentary rock called hoodoos. Bryce has the highest concentration of hoodoos in the world, as well as a clear sky: you can see on average 7,500 stars from here.

4. Cheile Turzii, Turda, Romania

 Cheile Turzii, Turda, Romania

This canyon is 2,900 meters long, in some points 300 meters high, and is home to over 1,000 species. Cheile Turzil is one of the most popular spots for climbing in Romania, and speaking as someone who’s been there, it’s definitely worth the trip.

5. Colca Canyon, Arequipa, Peru

Colca Canyon, Arequipa, Peru

The Colca Canyon is more than twice as deep as the Grand Canyon, at a depth of 13,650 feet. Although not as popular, it is beautiful.

6. Blyde River Canyon, Mpumalanga, South Africa

Blyde River Canyon, Mpumalanga, South Africa

Blyde River Canyon is 16 miles long and 2,500 feet deep, and is the second largest canyon in Africa. Beautiful, isn’t it?

7. Palo Duro Canyon, Texas, US

Palo Duro Canyon, Texas, US

The second largest canyon in the United States, the “Grand Canyon of Texas” is 120 miles long with depths up to 997 feet. It’s strange who a deserted place like this can be so impressive.

8. Waimea Canyon, Kauaʻi, Hawaii, US

Waimea Canyon, Kauaʻi, Hawaii, US

Waimea Canyon is 10 miles long and 3,000 feet deep, formed initially by a volcanic collapse and then by erosion. Waimea means “reddish water” in Hawaiian, just in case you were wondering.

9. Barranca del Cobre (Copper Canyon), Chihuahua, Mexico

Barranca del Cobre (Copper Canyon), Chihuahua, Mexico

Copper Canyon is actually six canyons formed by six different rivers. Its traditional inhabitants are the Tarahumara, who live within a total area of 25,096 square miles, with depths of over 6,000 feet.

10. Santa Elena Canyon, Big Bend National Park, Texas, US

Santa Elena Canyon, Big Bend National Park, Texas, US

Santa Elena Canyon is one of the most popular spots in Big Bend National Park. Hiking above the Rio Grande and/or paddle the river sounds fun, but be careful. There are 31 known species of snakes in the park, so you’d better watch out.

11. The Grand Canyon, Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona, US

The Grand Canyon, Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona, US

The Grand Canyon runs 277 miles long, up to 6,000 feet deep, and 18 miles wide. It’s the largest (longest) canyon in the world, and most popular because of that. Theodore Roosevelt established the Grand Canyon Game Preserve in November 1906, and it became a national park in 1919.

12. Yarlung Zangbo Grand Canyon, Tibet

Yarlung Zangbo Grand Canyon, Tibet

The Yarlung Zangbo Grand Canyon is also considered by some the deepest in the world. It’s most extreme depth is 19,714 feet, and there’s no hurry; the Chinese government earmarked money to develop the area for tourism.

13. Antelope Canyon, Page, Arizona, US

Antelope Canyon, Page, Arizona, US

Antelope Canyon is on Navajo Land near Page, Arizona. It can only be visited with a permit and a guide from the Navajo Nation, but it’s definitely worth the hassle. It’s one of the most photographed slot canyons in the US, and probably the world.

14. Eldgja (Fire Gorge), Iceland

Eldgja (Fire Gorge), Iceland

Eldja is called Fire Gorge because it’s a volcanic canyon. At 270 meters deep and 600 wide, it’s the largest such canyon in the world. That sounds like  hot!

15. Zion Canyon, Utah

Zion Canyon, Utah

Matrix fans, cool off. Zion is home to the world’s largest arch: Kolob Arch, with a span of 310 feet. Wildlife here includes golden eagles, mule deer, and mountain lions.

16. Itaimbezinho, Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil

Itaimbezinho, Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil

Located in Aparados da Serra National Park, Itaimbezinho is 5.8 kilometers long and up to 2 kilometers wide and 700 meters deep. In the Tupi-Guarani language, “ita” means “stone” and “aimbe” means “cut.” Pretty obvious, as well as stunning.

17. Buckskin Gulch, Utah, US

Buckskin Gulch, Utah, US

Located in the Paria Canyon-Vermilion Cliffs Wilderness Area, Buckskin Gulch is the deepest slot canyon in the Southwest US. Permits are required for day hiking and backpacking overnight, but please note only 20 overnight permits are issued each day so you might have to book that months in advance.

18. Charyn Canyon, Kazakhstan

Charyn Canyon, Kazakhstan

Somewhere close to the Chinese border, Charyn Canyon reaches depths of up to 300 meters. Inside a national park, Charyn National Park is one of the newest, created in 2004. Check it out.

19. Gorge du Verdon, France

Gorge du Verdon, France

25 kilometers long and 700 meters at its deepest, the Gorge du Verdon is named for the turquoise river that runs through it. Tourists from the nearby French Riviera can kayak, hike, or rock climb some of Verdon’s multi-pitch routes. And it’s France, so enjoying a nice wine is always allowed – and recommended.

20. Nine Mile Canyon, Utah, US

Nine Mile Canyon, Utah, US

Nine Mile Canyon is actually 40 miles long, named after a creek that runs through it. The canyon has over 1,000 rock art sites containing 10,000 images; more recently, fur trappers, ranchers, and now natural gas developers have occupied the land in Nine Mile Canyon. That’s not cool.

21. Canyon De Chelly, Arizona

Canyon De Chelly, Arizona

This canyon has been inhabited for around 5,000 years and is the longest uninterrupted stretch on the Colorado Plateau. It became a National Monument in 1931 and sits within the boundaries of the Navajo Nation. I guess the picture speaks for itself.

22. Mides Canyon, Tunisia

Mides Canyon, Tunisia

Mides Canyon might look familiar if you’ve recently seen The English Patient. The Tunisian canyon system covers over 5,000 square kilometers and it makes you realize how interesting and alive our planet is.

23. Dadès Gorge, Morocco

Dadès Gorge, Morocco

Located between the Atlas Mountains and Anti-Atlas range, the gorge valley is home to many Berber villages. The Berbers are an indigenous ethnic group of North Africa, who originally settled the area for defensive reasons. But I am now drooling at that winding road: joy ride, anyone?

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