Of the Earth’s natural wonders, the jaw dropping beauty and size of its canyons, carved into the planet’s crust, might be its most incredible.
Canyons have been carved out at glacial speed over millennia or more. Sometimes, it takes millions of years for rivers to make these breathtaking and gigantic natural sculptures. Here are the five most striking canyons elegantly carved into the Earth.
Great Canyon of Yarlung Tsangpo
Many people believe that Colorado’s Grand Canyon is the world’s largest. According to the American Geography Committee, however, the title of world’s biggest canyon belongs to China – or rather, a state on the fringes of the People’s Republic.
Welcome to the Great Canyon of Yarlung Tsangpo (Brahmaputra) River in the Tibetan Himalayas. The spectacular rift plunges an incredible 20,559 feet at its deepest point. Horizontally, it is equally amazing – it stretches 150 miles The Brahmaputra river that slices through the Great Canyon of Yarlung Tsangpo is just another reason for adventurers to visit.
The river is known by kayakers for its sensationally choppy conditions, which have won it the nickname “The Everest of Rivers.” A white-knuckle ride is guaranteed. The Great Canyon of Yarlung Tsangpo begins high in the Himalayas, near the sacred Mount Kailash, and it occupies some terrific Tibetan terrain. The list of reasons to make the Great Canyon of Yarlung Tsangpo your next adventure destination goes on and on.
The Grand Canyon
The Grand Canyon, which is gouged into the desert of Arizona, may not be the world’s largest canyon, but it is definitely the world’s most famous. The Grand Canyon is 6,000 feet deep and 277 miles long. You can see why it is ranked as one of the Seven Wonders of the Natural World and made our list of the Most Amazing Natural Wonders of the U.S.
How the Grand Canyon was originally formed remains the subject of hot debate. According to one theory, 17 million years ago, the Colorado River began chipping its way through multiple layers of rock. It then kept widening and deepening the channel, eventually yielding the current mega-marvel – the definitive canyon.
Now, yearly, about five million people visit the Grand Canyon. Tourists are wowed by its fantastic shapes and coloration, which increase the impact of its size.
Antelope Canyon might just be the world’s most beautiful canyon. Antelope Canyon is eclipsed by the size of the Grand Canyon, but you’ll want to visit it for much different reasons. The canyon’s walls shine purple and orange in a lovely array that fascinates visitors.
It gets the “Antelope” name from the herds of pronghorn antelope that used to freely wander the area. For Navajo Indians, entering Antelope Canyon was like walking into a cathedral.
The delightful, twisting slot canyon is the most-visited and most-photographed slot canyon in the American Southwest. Seeming to bend the laws of physics, it stands on Navajo land near Page, Arizona.
The Capertee Valley
Australia has a few forgotten marvels tucked away amid its vast deserts. The Capertee Valley in New South Wales is one of those hidden gems. This brilliantly colorful canyon is the largest in the country and is known for its dramatic landscape and soaring sandstone bluffs.
Thanks to its youngish age, Capertee Valley lacks the immense depth of some rival canyons on this elite list. Still, it makes up for its comparative shallowness with sheer sprawl. In fact, even though many Aussies have never heard of it, Capertee Valley is wider and about 0.6 miles longer than the Grand Canyon.
At the foot of the valley, the Capertee River chews its way through Permian and Triassic rock dating back millions of years. The Aboriginal Wiradjuri people are heavily linked to this land, as shown by local rock art dating back 2,000 years. That’s a long time – about the length of Western civilization. Adding to the valley’s allure, it has yielded countless diamonds in the past.
The Blyde River Canyon
The Blyde River Canyon in South Africa is one of the biggest canyons in the world, but it is also largest “green canyon” thanks to the lush subtropical foliage. It goes against the traditional notion of canyons being carved out of desert.
Another standout feature: Blyde River Canyon has some of the deepest, sheerest cliffs of any canyon on the planet. It ranks as the second largest canyon in Africa, after the Fish River Canyon, and is also seen as one of the continent’s most stunning natural wonders.
The canyon is also home to a dizzying array of wildlife. Antelope, hippos, crocodiles and every primate species that may be seen in South Africa can be found around its cliffs.
The primate line-up includes greater and lesser bush babies, vervet monkeys and samango monkeys. Then, there is the birdlife, which includes cinnamon doves, emerald cuckoos, African fish eagles, cape vultures and black eagles.