If you love the outdoors and enjoy traveling, there are few things more exciting than seeing the natural wonders of the world. If you hope to see something truly majestic, add visiting some of the deepest canyons in the world to your bucket list.
When it comes to canyons, there is much more to do than just admiring the panoramic views. You can go climbing and hiking, and in many cases, the rivers at the bottoms of the canyons offer excellent opportunities for floating, canoeing, and kayaking.
For photographers, canyons are amazing places to take epic photographs, and for geography enthusiasts, well, they’ll have the unique chance to view Earth’s remarkable changes. It takes thousands of years for a canyon to form, and it’s quite humbling to realize how ancient our world truly is.
Let’s dive in and explore some of the world’s deepest and most majestic canyons.
Table of Contents
Glen Canyon has had inhabitants for thousands of years – prehistoric and archaic Native American cultures lived and roamed there. In later years, the area was populated by miners, explorers, ranchers, all of whom have left their mark on the canyon.
The Glen Canyon National Recreation Area is spread over 1.25 million scenic acres and is famous for being full of geological wonders and stunning scenery.
In the 561-foot-deep canyon, you can see Defiance House, which was home to prehistoric tribes. While at the canyon, you can also enjoy outdoor activities at Lake Powell.
If you want to visit the deepest canyon in the world, you’re going to have to venture to Tibet to see the Yarlung Tsangpo. At its deepest, this canyon reaches 25,000 feet deep.
The area around the Yarlung Tsangpo is unspoiled and highly remote. If you’re lucky, you might spot the takin, a mammal similar to the goat, which is endemic to the area.
Because the canyon is so vast, it has significantly different climate zones. You can find yourself in sub-tropical temperatures in one area of the canyon while experiencing arctic-like conditions at its higher peaks.
One of the deepest canyons in Europe, the Tara River Canyon is about 4,265 feet at its deepest point. The canyon is located in the Durmitor National Park, and because of this, it attracts many ecotourism fans.
The canyon and the river that formed it got their names from the ancient Illyrian tribe that once lived in the area. Tara River has an unusual cascade structure and is one of the country’s main attractions. In fact, the river has over 40 significant rifts.
One amazing thing about the Tara River is that the water is so pure and crystal-clear that you can drink from it safely, an experience that many visitors enjoy.
The river flowing along the bottom of Kali Gandaki Gorge, and the gorge itself, are named after the Hindu goddess Kali. Kali personifies nature’s powerful forces, so the name is quite apt.
No one has accurately measured the precise depth of the Kali Gandaki Gorge, but estimates place it at 19,685 feet deep. The gorge is surrounded by the equally majestic Dhaulagiri and Annapurna mountains.
Every year, thousands of visitors travel to the gorge to see its snow-capped peaks. Since ancient times, indigenous people in the area have considered both the gorge and the mountains nearby to be sacred.
The Indus River got its name from the ancient Sanscrit language word “Sindhu,” and the gorge is between 15,000 and 17,000 feet deep in the Nanga Parbat area. The Indus River is a major Asian river that passes through this picturesque gorge.
The river passes by the world’s ninth highest mountain, the Nagan Parbat. The Nagan Parbat is covered with glaciers, so it offers a particularly spectacular view.
The area was home to several early civilizations, including the Indus Valley Civilization.
Nine Mile Canyon is actually 75 miles long (not nine) and has been recognized for its more than 60 sites featuring ancient rock carvings.
While there, you can explore ancient pictographs, petroglyphs, and other historic sites without supervision. The petroglyphs on the canyon’s walls are estimated to be more than 8,000 years old.
Located three hours from Salt Lake City, Utah, you can enjoy your time exploring the history of ancient America when you drive along Nine Mile Canyon Road.
In south-eastern France, there is a canyon that many people believe is the most beautiful canyon in Europe. The Gorge du Verdon is a river canyon that is about 2,300 feet deep.
The Verdon River is a striking emerald color and is one of the most beautiful features in the area. Visitors go to the canyon to climb and walk, but it’s also a popular spot for water sports. On nice days, you can see people kayaking, rafting, sailing, and even water skiing on the gorgeous Verdon River.
The river crosses the departments of the Var in the Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur and Alpes-de-Haute-Provence.
If you’re a hiker, the Buckskin Gulch should have a place on your bucket list. The gulch offers a visually arresting hike that makes an excellent day trip. If you’re feeling more adventurous, you can spend four days hiking the entire 20-mile area.
The gulch is located near Kanab, Utah in the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument and Paria Canyon-Vermillion Cliffs Wilderness in Arizona.
When you hike the Buckskin Gulch, you are hiking the deepest and longest slot canyon in the Southwest. Visual delights include pools and rock jams. But be warned, obstacles abound, including quicksand and flash floods. At its deepest, it is 500 feet deep, and at its most narrow, only 10-feet wide.
At 3,000 feet deep and 15 miles long, Zion Canyon is a narrow and deep gorge located in southwestern Utah. The gorge was carved by the Virgin River’s north fork.
Located in the western part of Zion National Park, the canyon is one of its most popular attractions. You’ll enjoy seeing the clear-flowing rivers, lonesome desert plateaus, and soaring sandstone cliffs.
The Narrows is a popular section of the canyon to visit, and the area has been protected since 1909 when President William Howard Taft established the Mukuntuweap National Monument via the Antiquities Act. Zion National Park was created by Congress in 1919.
A protected natural area south of Cluj-Napoca, Cheile Turzii (Turzii Gorge) belongs to the northern side of the Trascau Mountains in the heart of Transylvania.
With steep walls towering at 820 feet, the diversity of rock towers, sharp ridges, and caves make this canyon one of the most impressive natural sites in Romania. The gorge resembles a double funnel in shape and was shaped by the Hasdate River.
Visitors to the gorge can explore the entire length by following the trail that is set at the river level. This is a popular spot for climbers as well as people looking to explore the caves.
When you visit Bruce Canyon National Park, you can see it all in one day. However, if you love the outdoors, you may want to spend two days there so that you can enjoy all of the park’s best viewpoints. This will also give you time to hike the longest trail in the park.
Some of the most popular amphitheater viewpoints are Sunset, Sunrise, Inspiration, and Bryce. Take the time to hike the popular Navajo Loop Trail and Queen’s Garden or take the scenic drive.
The deepest point is the Bryce Amphitheater, which is three miles wide, 12 miles long, and 800 feet deep.
The Canyon de Chelly National Monument is located within the boundaries of the Navajo Nation and lies in the Four Corners region.
The canyon is located in northeastern Arizona and preserves the ruins from the indigenous Navajo and Anasazi tribes. Also, the canyon is owned by the Navajo Nation’s Navajo Tribal Trust and about 40 Navajo families live there.
The area covers more than 83,800 acres and the canyon was cut by the streams in the nearby Chuska Mountains. At its deepest, Canyon de Chelly is 5,500 feet deep.
The Dadès Gorges were carved out by Morocco’s Dadès River and are a series of wadi gorges. Millions of years ago, the area that forms the gorge was at the bottom of the sea.
Over the years, huge quantities of sediment have been deposited around gigantic coral reefs, and eventually, this material formed a variety of sedimentary rocks such as limestone and sandstone. The earth’s crust moved and caused the region to rise above sea level and form the surrounding landscape, which includes the Atlas Mountains.
The Dadès Gorges are between 656 and 1,640 feet deep. The area is also known for producing roses and rose water, as well as almond and palm trees.
Mexico’s Copper Canyon area has six separate canyons that are located in the southwestern part of Chihuahua in the Sierra Madre Occidental, and this vast area stretches more than 25,000 square miles.
Six rivers that drain the Sierra Tarahumara formed the canyons, and all six rivers merge into the Rio Fuerte, where they later empty into the Gulf of California.
The walls of the canyon are copper/green in color, which is how the area got its name. You can explore the Copper Canyon by hiking, driving, biking, or horseback riding. However, the most popular way to explore this area is by train because the Ferrocarril Chihuahua al Pacifico (ChePe) runs along the Canyon Urique.
The Tsangpo River is nicknamed the “Everest of Rivers” because it is so mighty. In some areas, the canyon reaches depths of 17,000 feet, which is three times deeper than the Grand Canyon.
The Yarlung Tsangpo Grand Canyon is located in Tibet in the northern Himalayas. Travel to the area is often restricted and permit fees are expensive, so this area has few visitors. However, the river’s whitewater is some of the fiercest in the entire world.
The first team to ever successfully descend the upper portion of the gorge was led by Scott Lindgren in 2002 – it took them 45 days.
Located in a remote area of the Andes Mountains, Cotahuasi Canyon is twice as deep as the Grand Canyon in the U.S. At its deepest, Cotahuasi Canyon is 11,595 feet deep, so people who venture into this amazing canyon are true adventure-seekers.
The cliffs are incredibly steep, making this an excellent place for high-level trekking and climbing. You can also kayak in the river below.
The biggest city near Cotahuasa Canyon is Arequipa, which is located approximately 123 miles to the southeast. However, there are smaller villages and towns nearby.
This area of the country is protected by law, but you can visit without a permit. Just keep in mind that the local fauna and flora are carefully protected, and nearby farmers, sheepherders, and llamas call the area home.
The second deepest canyon in the world is Colca Canyon, which is located in Peru. Easily accessible from Arequipa, Colca Canyon is 13,600 feet deep at its lowest point.
Chivay is the valley’s most popular vantage point, and it’s also home to the famous La Calera hot springs, which are frequented by tourists and locals alike.
In Chivay, you can enjoy accommodations, shopping, dining, and plenty of tourist activities that blend with local traditions.
Check out Cruz del Cóndor, a popular lookout point with spectacular views, and be sure to take note of the majestic Andean condors that fly through the canyon.
Fjaðrárgljúfur canyon is 328 feet deep and 1.24 miles long. This gorgeous canyon was formed by water flowing from glaciers over the last 9,000 years. Located near the village of Kirkjubæjarklaustur in southeast Iceland, Fjaðrárgljúfur is fairly easy to get to.
The Fjaðrá River runs through the canyon and features a stunning waterfall that is visible to hikers. Fjaðrárgljúfur Canyon has fascinating, oddly shaped bumps and salients and twisting, turning walls.
Of all the canyons on this list, Fjaðrárgljúfur is the most likely to have come straight from a fairytale.
When you travel to Big Bend National Park in Texas, you want to be sure to visit the Santa Elena Canyon. The walls of this majestic canyon are 1,500 feet tall, and people love making a three-day trip out of a visit here.
This canyon is so huge, you can see it from more than 10 miles away. The Rio Grande River abruptly changes direction after several miles, cutting through the mountains to form this narrow and deep gorge.
To reach the canyon, you have to travel along the Ross Maxwell Scenic Drive, and the one-hour journey is steep and winding.
Located in the Mpumalanga Province of South Africa, Blyde River Canyon is more than 4,500 feet deep, and people have been exploring this canyon for more than 100,000 years.
In ancient times, the Swazi tribes roamed the valley, and scientists have discovered paintings by these tribes on the walls of caves in the canyon. Ancient remains of people who died in wars between the tribes have also been found in the area.
These days, primates and rare kudu antelope are the main occupants of the canyon. There are also leopards here, so locals recommend that you enjoy this spectacular scenery with a guide.
At 885 feet deep, Eldgjá is the world’s largest volcanic canyon. Eldgjá is located in southern Iceland and stretches from Landmannalaugar to Kirkjubæjarklaustur.
Eldgjá was discovered in 1893 by Icelandic geographer and geologist Þorvaldur Thoroddsen. Within the canyon is a two-stream waterfall called Ófærufoss, and a natural bridge that once crossed the waterfall disappeared in 1993 because of water from the melting ice.
Since 2011, Eldgjá’s northern part and the surrounding areas have been a part of Vatnajökull National Park. While there, you can visit the Lakagígar craters nearby, one of the area’s most important attractions. There, 25 craters sit in a row and are surrounded by stunning lava formations.
The Mides Canyon was used as the setting for desert scenes for the 1996 film “The English Patient” and “Raiders of the Lost Ark,” so you know it’s beautiful enough to make it into the movies.
From the raging torrent of water snaking through its rocky walls, the stratified rock has been shaped by millions of years of erosion. Mides Canyon is located about 40 miles from Tozeur in southern Tunisia near the border of Algeria.
You can find colorful minerals and fossils that are millions of years old in this mountain oasis. The canyon system sprawls out over about 3,106 square miles.
Six canyons make up the area in Mexico that is referred to as Copper Canyon and Urique Canyon, and “Fire Gorge,” is one of them. Copper Canyon is located in the country’s Sierra Madra Occidental Mountains in Chihuahua.
In the Copper Canyon area, Urique Canyon is the deepest and largest. This canyon measures 6,236 at its deepest point and draws visitors from the entire world.
It’s especially rewarding to explore the Copper Canyon area by the El Chepe train, which gives visitors one of the world’s most scenic rides.
Along the train ride, passengers enjoy disembarking at Divisadero and Posada Barrancas. There is a hotel in Divisadero, and there is an adventure park nearby that offers fun for the entire family.
Palo Duro Canyon is located near Amarillo, Texas, in one of the most visited state parks in Texas. As the second-largest U.S. canyon, the Palo Duro is sometimes called the “Grand Canyon of Texas.”
This picturesque canyon has depths of up to 997 feet and is 120 miles long. You can take a 16-mile scenic drive through the park that will take you down to the beautiful canyon floor. For hikers, there are about 50 miles of marked trails around the park.
Visitors will find themselves in awe of the majestic multicolored layers of rocks, as well as the steep mesa walls that look similar to those found in the Grand Canyon.
The Grand Canyon in the United States is one of the most famous canyons in the world. At 6,093 feet at its deepest point, the Grand Canyon is also one of the world’s deepest canyons.
The Grand Canyon is not only deep, but it’s also huge. If you could pick the canyon up and move it, it would cover the entire state of Rhode Island.
According to scientists, the Colorado River began to carve the Grand Canyon about six million years ago. However, some studies indicate the process may have actually begun nearly 70 million years ago.
When you visit the Grand Canyon, you can view it from the rim. However, to really immerse yourself in the experience, consider taking a hike on one of the canyon’s many trails.
Don’t forget to visit the Skywalk at Grand Canyon West. The Skywalk features a glass floor that extends approximately 70 feet out from the canyon’s rim.
Located just north of Chiapa de Corzo in southern Mexico, Sumidero Canyon is one of the country’s most popular natural attractions. The canyon began forming about the same time as the Grand Canyon in the U.S.
In some spots, the soaring walls of Simidero Canyon reach 3,280 feet. Because of its gorgeous scenery, the Sumidero Canyon National Park welcomes more than 300,000 visitors annually. The park is federally protected and covers more than 53,000 acres over four Chiapas municipalities.
Visitors to the park enjoy swimming, spelunking, fishing, swimming, mountain biking, and waterfall sightseeing. At the canyon’s north end, you can see the Chicoasen Dam and the artificial reservoir.
Located on the western side of Kaua’i Island, Waimea Canyon is known as the “Grand Canyon of the Pacific.” For hundreds of years, the Waimea River has flowed through volcanic rocks and created one of the world’s most picturesque canyons.
With a depth of about 2,952 feet, this gorgeous canyon is spectacular with its colorful crests and hills, deep gorges, and steep cliffs. The canyon has lots of green vegetation, as you would expect in a tropical climate.
When you’re there, be sure to take the Waimea Canyon hike, which is about eight miles long. You will wind your way through the koa forest and see native hibiscus along with other beautiful plant life.
Hitting 7,913 feet deep at some points, Hells Canyon, which is located in Oregon and Idaho, is the deepest canyon in North America. The canyon is in the northeast corner of Oregon and forms the eastern border with Idaho.
Considered one of the most spectacular natural wonders of the Pacific Northwest, Hells Canyon was formed by lava flows, erosion, and the shifting of tectonic plates over 150 million years.
Technically, Hells Canyon is a canyon system that rises up above the Imnaha River, the Snake Rivers, and several creeks. Congress established the canyon as a recreational area in 1975, and the Hells Canyon Recreation Area protects more than 200,000 acres.
When visiting Hell’s Canyon, you can enjoy not just the stunning views, but also jet boat tours, kayaking, and rafting.
The Paria Canyon-Vermillion Cliffs Wilderness covers 112,500 acres and one small part of that is known as “The Wave,” or Coyote Buttes North. The area has some of the world’s most visually striking geological sandstone formations.
Located inside an undeveloped wilderness area, Coyote Buttes does not contain developed facilities or trails. People who have permits are given a description of the route, a map, GPS coordinates, and a photo guide.
The hike to the Wave is a grueling 6.4-mile round trip and only people in the best physical condition should attempt this adventure. Overnight visitors are not allowed and people who want permits have to enter a lottery for approval.
The largest canyon in Latin America is located in the city of Cambará do Sul in the Aparados da Serra National Park. The Itaimbezinho Canyon is 2,296 feet deep and has two easy trails for visitors to hike if they want to see the gorgeous, araucaria covered walls.
There are two major trails within the park. The Cotovelo (Elbow) trail is 3.91 miles long, is completely flat, and takes about two and a half hours.
The second trail is less than a mile long and is the perfect hike for people of all ages. It takes only 45 minutes to get to the lookouts where you can enjoy the view of the Cascata das Andorinhas that was formed by the Arroio Perdizes River.
Frequently Asked Questions
Below, we’ve compiled some of the most commonly asked questions about the deepest canyons in the world.
At 25,000 feet deep (6400 meters), the Yarlung Tsangpo Canyon is the world’s deepest canyon.
At 7,913 feet deep at some points, Hells Canyon in Oregon and Idaho is the deepest canyon in North America.
Canyons are generally larger than gorges. Although both are deep valleys, canyons are usually wider. Gorges are often associated with rivers while canyons are not always.
Both the Valles Marineris and Grand Canyon are visible from space. International Space Station astronauts have often taken photos of the Grand Canyon.