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Canyons can be the most committing — and rewarding — places to hike, paddle, climb, float. Whether you’re there to take pictures or immerse yourself deep in the backcountry, here are 27 formidable places.

Note: All depths listed are maximum canyon depths.

1. Glen Canyon, near Page, Arizona, US

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

Image by Eddie 11uisma

2. Sumidero Canyon, Chiapas, Mexico

In some places, Sumidero’s vertical canyon walls reach 1,000 meters. The Sumidero Canyon National Park gets 300,000 visitors every year for waterfall sightseeing, hiking, swimming, fishing, mountain biking, and spelunking.

Image by Igor Pardini

3. Coyote Buttes, between Kanab, Utah and Page, Arizona, US

“The Wave” in the Coyote Buttes North Area of Paria Canyon-Vermilion Cliffs Wilderness Area is a section of multicolored carved sandstone that looks like it was taken out of a page of Dr. Seuss’s Oh the Places You’ll Go.

4. Kali Gandaki Gorge, Nepal

Because all canyons and gorges are different, from the slope of their walls and their rim height above sea level, it’s difficult to determine a list of the “deepest” canyons in the world. Kali Gandaki Gorge, in the Himalayas, is proclaimed as such, if the depth is the measured by highest peak of the mountains on either side minus the elevation of the river — a depth of over 19,000 feet.

5. 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. The is also a really good for stargazing, with a 7.4 magnitude night sky, meaning the sky is so clear, you can see on average 7,500 stars. (For comparison, LA and New York have 2 magnitude night sky ratings).

Image by Dan Sorensen

6. Cheile Turzil, near 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.

7. Colca Canyon, near Arequipa, Peru

The Colca Canyon is more than twice as deep as the Grand Canyon, at a depth of 13,650 feet.

8. Blyde River Canyon, Mpumalanga, South Africa

Blyde River Canyon is 16 miles long and 2,500 feet deep, the second largest canyon in Africa.

Image by Irene

9. Palo Duro Canyon, near Amarillo, 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. Georgia O’Keefe often visited and painted the canyon when she taught at West Texas State Normal College.

Image by R Hensley

10. Fish River Canyon, southern Namibia

At 100 miles long and up to 1,800 feet deep, Fish River Canyon is the largest canyon in Africa and the second largest in the world. It’s a popular tourist attraction in Namibia — check the 53-mile Fish River Hiking Trail, which takes 3-5 days to hike.

11. 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, for the color of the canyon’s soil.

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

Copper Canyon is actually six canyons formed by six different rivers that eventually empty into the Sea of Cortez. Its traditional inhabitants are the Tarahumara (or Rarámuri). The total area covered is 25,096 square miles, with depths of over 6,000 feet.

Image by Matt Mawson

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

Santa Elena Canyon is one of the most popular spots in Big Bend National Park — you can hike above the Rio Grande and/or paddle the river. There are 31 known species of snakes in the park, so you’ll probably never see me hiking there.

Image by longhorndave

14. Fjaðrárgljúfur, Südosten, Iceland

At 328 feet deep and just over 1 mile long, Fjaðrárgljúfur isn’t a huge canyon, but there’s a hiking trail along one rim that leads down to the base. The nearest landmark to the canyon is Heiðarsel, a deserted farm.

Image by Johan Wieland

15. 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. Theodore Roosevelt established the Grand Canyon Game Preserve in November 1906, and it became a national park in 1919.

Image by B Rosen

16. 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. Hydropower lobby groups who’d like to harness the power of the Yarlung Zangbo River were disappointed this year when the Chinese government earmarked money to develop the area for tourism.

Image by Bob Jiang

17. 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. It’s one of the most photographed slot canyons in the US.

Image by James Neeley

18. Eldgja (Fire Gorge), near Landmannalaugar, 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.

19. Zion Canyon, Utah

Zion is home to the world’s largest arch: Kolob Arch, with a span of 310 feet. Wildlife you can see there includes golden eagles, mule deer, and mountain lions.

Image by ingridtaylar

20. 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.”

21. Buckskin Gulch, Utah, US

Also located in the Paria Canyon-Vermilion Cliffs Wilderness Area, Buckskin Gulch is the deepest slot canyon (narrow canyon) in the Southwest US. Permits are required for day hiking and backpacking overnight. Because only 20 overnight permits are issued each day, they’re often booked months in advance.

22. Charyn Canyon, Kazakhstan

Close to the Chinese border, Charyn Canyon reaches depths of up to 300 meters. Like many of the canyons on this list, it’s inside a national park. Charyn National Park is one of the newest, created in 2004.

Image by Vladimir L

23. 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.

24. Nine Mile Canyon, eastern Utah, US

Nine Mile Canyon is actually 40 miles long — it’s named for a creek that runs through it. The canyon has over 1,000 rock art sites containing 10,000 images. In more recent history, fur trappers, ranchers, and now natural gas developers have occupied the land in Nine Mile Canyon.

25. 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.

Image by katsrcool

26. Mides Canyon, Tunisia

Mides Canyon might look familiar if you’ve recently seen The English Patient (they filmed the desert scenes there). The Tunisian canyon system covers over 5,000 square kilometers.

Image by Chris Murphy

27. Dadès Gorge, Morocco

Located between the Atlas Mountains and Anti-Atlas range, the gorge valley is home to many Berber villages. The Berbers — an indigenous ethnic group of North Africa — originally settled the area for defensive reasons.

Image by rosino

About The Author

Morgan deBoer

Morgan deBoer is a writer spending two years in Japan. She is a staff writer for Matador and blogs at Hello Morgan. Follow her @morgandeboer.

  • Nima Heydarian

    Great post. I didn’t know there are so many canyons right by nose in Texas.

    • Dave Shaffer

      Visit Caprock Canyons…Palo Duro’s lesser-known neighbor. Real “Red Rock” country, and home to the state bison herd.

  • Thai Nguyen

    Yes please. Got a few out of the way, 22 more to go! =)

  • John Gillis

    What about Hell’s Canyon formed by the Snake River, along the Oregon/Idaho border? It’s deeper than the Grand Canyon.

  • Fairul M. Zain

    You guys sure that Jebel Sham in Oman shouldn’t be in the list?

    • Nyain Swe

      Jebel Shams is amazing

  • Patty Tybroski Wahle Bray

    You may only see these canyons by photos so look be astounded now!

  • Dan Sorensen

    Wow that picture of Bryce Canyon is awesome!

  • Marie Lisa Jose

    Buckskin Gulch is like “WOW”!

  • Jason Clinch

    I would add the Columbia Gorge to this list…created by the largest known catastrophic floods on Earth otherwise known as the Missoula Floods.

  • Scott Stacey

    What about Horsethief Canyon in Alberta, Canada?

  • House of Muki

    It’s Cheile Turzii, and yeah, it’s a great place for climbers!

  • Dave Shaffer

    A few points to ponder…everything in Big Bend has either thorns, teeth, or claws. Just sayin’. And watch for snipers if you’re in the Santa Elena Canyon. You’ll never see (or hear) ‘em, but still. And if you’re going to shoot a canyon (or any landscape, for that matter) don’t have some bimbo blocking the shot, Ugh. Lastly, if you’re going to attempt “HDR”, please do it right.

  • Nyain Swe

    Yup. I went to Jebel Shams and it’s amazing. It’s the Grand Canyon of Arabia.

  • Wayanyway Airfares

    WOW! They all look awesome! We will be travelling to US in September and I’ve noted some canyons that I did not know about : ) Thanks for the heads up!

    Way Any Way – Airfare search done right.

  • Alexandre Lavrador

    Por favor, alguem que tenha um blog pode me explicar esse site? O_o

    É isso mesmo?

  • Jim Harrelson

    You totally got your info wrong about the Copper Canyon region.The Huichol people live in the state of Nayarit, not Chihuahua! The people who inhabit the Copper Canyons are the Tarahumara, or as they call themselves, Raramuri.Very blatant mistake! DO YOUR RESEARCH! You’re of no use and even detrimental by providing totally wrong information to people.Not cool guys! Now when I read about other destinations which I’m not familiar with, i will be left to wonder if any of what’s written is factual.Nobody’s walking from Chihuahua to San Louis Potosi to do peyote rituals.Two completely different cultures!

    • Carlo Alcos

      You’re right. Not sure how that mistake was made. Apologies to our readers, will get that fixed up. Thanks for the correction.

  • Jim Harrelson

    The wave isn’t even in a canyon, let alone deep.So matador writers just kick back and pull stuff off the internet about Mexico, or Arizona and Utah and wherever else and feed it to us as fact, without ever checking the facts for themselves.This is supposed to be an informative travel magazine, but the reality is something different.Not fact checking is poor journalism.You wrote this from Japan? Have you even been to the Copper Canyon? Or Vermillion Cliffs? Doesn’t sound like it.I don’t think anyone likes being misinformed by so called experts.

    • Katie Harrelson


    • Carlo Alcos

      The post is meant for entertainment and inspiration. Yes, it’s desk researched, and admittedly liberties are sometimes taken…as is the case for the photo of the wave, it being in the area of the paria canyon.

  • Jim Harrelson

    Matador took down my comment informing people that the Huichols don’t inhabit the Copper Canyon,(that being the home of the Tarahumara people.The Huichols live the the state of Nayarit.I guess they don’t like being corrected or spreading the truth.Too bad, cause I actually liked them.

    • Daniel Trunk


    • Carlo Alcos

      Not sure what you mean, I see the comment in the post.

    • Carlo Alcos

      By the way, this has been corrected now. We get things wrong from time to time. We do our best, but it happens.

    • Jim Harrelson

      Thank you for the correction! Even if the article is for entertainment purposes,it should still be factual and as accurate as possible.Kudos to you for fixing that and responding so promptly.

  • Cole Blaney

    Black Canyon of the Gunnison should definitely be on this list.

  • John Anderson

    If you had left “deepest” out of the title, it would have made a better article. Many of these don’t belong on any “deepest” list.

  • Chad Scott

    How is Hell’s Canyon not on here? it’s the deepest river cut canyon in the US.

  • Ana Roig

    My favourite one is Colca Canyon. Who wouldn’t want to be the condor you can see flying across! It is a beautiful place.I remember it with such wonderful memories.Central Asia has some stunning canyons too!


    Amazing! Unfortunately never been to any of these canyons :( recently visited the grand canyon of yellowstone if that counts!

    • underground72

      It does count. After you seen one you should be good..

  • cheap flights Trip

    Amazing and fabulous pictures.

  • humbarcam

    Where is the deepest canyon of the world? Cotahuasi Canyon in Perú (11,001 feet)

  • K Gaurav

    You should take a look at Venkateshwara National Park, Andhra Pradesh in India.

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