Canyons or gorges are one of nature’s natural wonders carved out over eons by fast moving rivers. Most canyons were formed by a process of long-time erosion from a plateau level. The cliffs form because harder rock that are resistant to erosion and weathering remain exposed on the valley walls. Canyons offer some of the most dramatic landscapes on earth (and even in the solar system), not only for the sheer size but also for the beauty that often lie hidden beneath the ground.
Note: The word canyon is generally used in the United States, while the word gorge is more common in Europe.
Todra Gorge is situated on the remote east side of the High Atlas Mountains and is one of the popular tourist attractions in Morocco. The final 600 meters of the Todra Gorge are the most spectacular as the canyon narrows to a flat stony track as little as 10 meters (33 ft) wide in places with sheer and smooth rock walls up to 160 meters (525 ft) high on each side.
King’s Canyon is one of the major tourist attractions in the southern desert region of the Northern Territory in Australia. Enigmatic domes formations, sharp cliffs, and good views of the surrounding desert reward the visitor talking the rim walk around the canyon. Part of the canyon is a sacred Aboriginal site and visitors are discouraged from walking off the walking tracks.
Situated near the rocky east coast of Taiwan, Taroko Gorge is one of the island’s biggest tourist attractions. The canyon is 19 kilometer long and offers a number of different hiking trails through breathtaking scenery of spectacular cliffs and white-water rapids.
The Copper Canyon is in fact a network of canyons which together are several times larger than the Grand Canyon. The most popular way to explore the Copper Canyon is on the “Chihuahua al Pacifico” Railway. The track passes over 37 bridges and through 86 tunnels, rising as high as 2,400 meter (7,900 feet) above sea level featuring spectacular views of the canyons below.
Colca Canyon is a canyon of the Colca River, in the Andes mountain range, in southern Peru. It is more than twice as deep as the Grand Canyon, but the canyon’s walls are less steep. The big attraction here, in addition to the awesome sights, are the Andean condors. The condors can be seen at fairly close range as they float on the rising thermals.
The Samariá Gorge is a 16 km long canyon in southwest Crete. Walking the Samariá Gorge is extremely popular and more than a quarter million people do so each year. The walk takes 4-7 hours and passes through forests of ancient cypresses and pines, then cuts very deep between vertical cliffs through the mountains to emerge at Agia Roumeli on the Libyan sea, at which point tourists sail to the nearby village of Hora Sfakion.
Waimea Canyon, located on the western side of Kauai, is the largest canyon in the Pacific and one of the most colorful in the world. The canyon is 16 km (10 miles) long, 1.6 km (1 mile) wide and 1,100 meter (3,600 feet) deep. It was carved thousands of years ago by rivers that flowed from Mount Waialeale at the center of the island.
With its graceful curves in the rock and glowing orange and purple colors, the Antelope Canyon is one the most-photographed sandstone slot canyons in the world. It includes two separate photogenic canyons – Upper and Lower Antelope. Both canyons are so narrow in places that one can stretch out his or her arms and touch both sides. Although the canyons are beautiful, they can sometimes be dangerous. In 1997 a flash flood swept into Lower Antelope and killed 11 tourists.
The Gorge du Verdon is a river canyon in south-eastern France that is considered by many to be Europe’s most beautiful. The canyon is about 25 kilometers in length and rises a spectacular 700 meters (2,300 feet) from the Verdon river below. The river, which is named after its startling green emerald color, is one of the canyon’s most beautiful features. The area has become a magnet for walkers, climbers and lovers of water sports which includes rafting, kayaking, sailing and water skiing.
Tiger Leaping Gorge is situated on the Yangtze River in southwestern China. About 15 km (9 miles) in length, the canyon passes through a series of rapids surrounded by mountains on both sides that sharply rise 3,000 meters above the river. It is believed to be the deepest canyon in the world – depending on the criteria applied. The canyon’s narrowest point is just 30 meter wide.
The Fish River Canyon is second only in grandeur to the Grand Canyon in Arizona and one of the top tourist attractions in Namibia. It is absolutely magnificent and breathtaking in its immensity. The canyon features a gigantic ravine, in total about 160km (100 miles) long, up to 27 km wide and in places almost 550 meters deep. Because the Fish River is being dammed it only contains a small amount of running water.
The Grand Canyon is located in northern Arizona and is one of the great tourist attractions in the United States. Carved over several million years by the Colorado River, the canyon attains a depth of over 1.6 km (1 mile) and 446 km (277 miles) long. The Grand Canyon is not the deepest or the longest canyon in the world but the overwhelming size and its intricate and colorful landscape offers visitor spectacular vistas that are unmatched throughout the world.