Famous Canyons

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Travel Guide General Guides Famous Landmarks Famous Canyons

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Introduction

Charyn Canyon

Charyn Canyon

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A canyon or gorge is a deep ravine between pairs of escarpments or cliffs and is most often carved from the landscape by the erosive activity of a river over geologic timescales. A canyon may also refer to a rift between two mountain peaks. Canyons within mountains, or gorges that have an opening on only one side are called box canyons. Slot canyons are very narrow canyons, often with smooth walls.

The definition of "largest canyon" is imprecise, as a canyon can be large by its depth, length, or the total area of the canyon system. The Grand Canyon of northern Arizona in the United States, with an average depth of 1,600 metres and a volume of 4.17 trillion cubic metres, is one of the world's largest canyons. Still, Copper Canyon in Chihuahua, Mexico is deeper and longer than the Grand Canyon. In August 2013, the discovery of Greenland's Grand Canyon was reported. Located under an ice sheet, based on the analysis of date from Operation IceBridge, it is believed to be the longest canyon in the world.

The Yarlung Tsangpo Grand Canyon in Tibet, is regarded by some as the deepest canyon in the world at 5,500 metres. It is slightly longer than the Grand Canyon in the United States. Others consider the Kali Gandaki Gorge in midwest Nepal as the deepest canyon, with a 6400 metre difference between the level of the river and the peaks surrounding it. The deepest canyon in the world is at the confluence of the Gilgit and Indus rivers, where the Indus gorge is 7,120 metres deep from river to peak at one point, more than 600 metres greater than the depth of the Kali Gandaki Gorge and 1,500 metres deeper than the Yarlung Tsangpo Gorge.

Here you won't find all of these superlatives, but the better known among travellers and therefore probably the most famous ones.

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Africa

Blyde River Canyon, South Africa

Bourkes Potholes

Bourkes Potholes

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The Blyde River Canyon is a significant natural feature of South Africa, located in Mpumalanga, and forming the northern part of the Drakensberg escarpment. It is 25 kilometres in length and is, on average, around 750 metres deep. The Blyderivierpoort Dam, when full, is at an altitude of 665 metres. The canyon consists mostly of red sandstone. The highest point of the canyon, Mariepskop, is 1,944 metres above sea level, whilst its lowest point where the river leaves the canyon is slightly less than 561 metres above sea level. This means that by some measure the Canyon is 1,383 metres deep. Blyde River Canyon is one of the largest canyons on Earth, and it may be the largest 'green canyon' due to its lush subtropical foliage.

Fish River Canyon, Namibia

Fish River Canyon

Fish River Canyon

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The scale of the Fish River Canyon in Namibia is hard to describe. Whether it is or isn't the second largest canyon in the world is anyone's guess, but either way it's absolutely huge! Most travellers visiting will come just to see the canyon from the top, and the viewpoint near Hobas provides unparalleled vistas. For the more adventurous, there is the epic 5-day 85-kilometre hike following the Fish River through the canyon. The trail runs from Hobas in the north to Ai-Ais in the south. This is only available between the 1st of May and the 30th of September because that is the dry and relatively cool season, but well worth doing if you can make it. Unfortunately for all future visitors, the day-hikes into the canyon are now forbidden ever since an unprepared hiker died attempting one.

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Asia

Charyn Canyon, Kazakhstan

Charyn Canyon

Charyn Canyon

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Charyn Canyon is a 80-kilometre-long canyon in Kazakhstan on the Charyn River, 200 kilometres east of Almaty, close to the border with Kyrgyzstan and China. It is part of the Charyn National Park, which was established on 23 February 2004 and located within the territory of the Uyghur and Kegen Districts of Almaty Province. It stretches 154 kilometres along the Charyn River in the northern Tien Shan mountain range. In parts, it attains a depth of 150 to 300 metres. One part of it is known as Valley of Castles for its unusual rock formations. The width of it ranges from 20 to 80 metres and the length is 2 kilometres.

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North America

Antelope Canyon, USA

Antelope Canyon, Page, Arizona

Antelope Canyon, Page, Arizona

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Antelope Canyon is a beautiful slot canyon located on the Navajo Nation near Page, Arizona. The canyon was formed through erosion, which smoothed the sandstone walls into a graceful, flowing shape. There are two main sites: Upper Antelope Canyon and Lower Antelope Canyon. Because the canyon is on the Navajo Nation, the only way to visit is by a guided tour.

Bryce Canyon, USA

Bryce Canyon is one of the natural highlights of any visit to the southwest of the USA. Located in the southwest of Utah, this park attracts many visitors inspired by the natural beauty of its famous hoodoos, spires created out of the bigger rocks they once were. The park is open all year round, with most of the crowds visiting during the warmer summer months from May to September. For a more tranquil visit, come in winter, when the 'hoodoos' are sometimes covered with a thin layer of snow. The Rim Road Scenic Drive is 18 miles long with many turnouts and beautiful views. Most of them are on the east side of the road. The Bryce Amphitheater stretches from Bryce Point to Sunrise Point where hoodoos form a great landscape. Sunset and Inspiration point are other highlights.

Copper Canyon, Mexico

Sunrise in Copper Canyon

Sunrise in Copper Canyon

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The Copper Canyon, or Barranca del Cobre, is a series of 6 different canyons in the Sierra Tarahumura, which is in the southwestern part of the state of Chihuahua, Mexico. All the canyons added together are larger and some parts are deeper then the Grand Canyon in the USA, although no individual canyon in Barranca del Cobre is larger then the Grand Canyon. The Chihuahuah Pacifico railroad goes up and down the canyon, which is known by the nickname Chepe. The canyons are the traditional home of the Tarahumara people, which are known for their long distance running ability. These people have been known to run 160 kilometres in order to run down an animal to kill it. The Tarahumara people still live a traditional lifestyle and practice a traditional religion with a Roman Catholic twist.

Grand Canyon, USA

Grand Canyon

Grand Canyon

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The Grand Canyon is one of the most popular tourist sights in the world with over 5 million visitors a year. The Colorado River and its tributaries created the Grand Canyon by moving through the sandy soil of the desert. Most of the Grand Canyon is located within the Grand Canyon National Park within Arizona, although parts of the canyon are in Utah and in several Indian Reservations. The canyon is believed to be over 17 million years old and cutting through 2 billion of years of history. The Grand Canyon is 443 kilometres long and ranges in width of 6.4 to 9.6 kilometres.

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South America

Colca Canyon, Peru

Inside the Canyon

Inside the Canyon

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Colca Canyon in southern Peru is supposedly the deepest canyon in the world, twice as deep as the Grand Canyon in the United States and it's certainly not hard to believe as you stand on the edge of a precipice a kilometre above the canyon floor. As you drive along the road from Chivay, you witness the canyon slowly sink further and further away from the road, and the roads being as narrow as they are gives you plenty of opportunities to look straight down the sheer cliff faces. There is more to Colca Canyon than vertiginous drops however, the most famous being the the condor viewpoint. This viewpoint perches on the edge of a spur overlooking the canyon where numerous condors soar on the rising thermals - caused by the sun on the canyon walls - before swooping past the viewpoint almost within touching distance.

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This is version 6. Last edited at 11:41 on Sep 2, 15 by Utrecht. 1 article links to this page.

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