11 Breathtaking Canyons in the US You Can’t Miss

11 Breathtaking Canyons in the US You Can’t Miss

After wading, scrambling, shimmying, and squeezing our way through the Zebra Slot Canyons in Utah this past weekend, we started to think about what other amazing and beautiful canyons in the US are worth exploring.

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Last Updated: Apil 13, 2020

11 Breathtaking Canyons in the US to Explore

We’ve visited all but the ones in Hawaii and Buckskin Gulch (this is a hike that’s been on our bucket list for a while), and we can’t wait to go out and explore them. In the meantime, these are the ones we highly recommend you visit.

Indian Rte 222, Page, AZ 86040, map

This is probably the most popular slot canyon for photographers and tourists alike. Antelope is made up of Upper and Lower Antelope, and it can only be visited with a permit and guide. We’ve been to the lower canyons multiple times, which is the less crowded of the two.

If you’re making the trip from Las Vegas, we highly recommend Max Tours.

Antelope Canyon USA (11 Beautiful Canyons in the US You Must Explore).

photo: 

2. Nine Mile Canyon, Utah

9 Mile Canyon Rd, Helper, UT 84526, map

Named after the creek that runs through it, Nine Mile Canyon is 40 miles long and home to thousands of petroglyphs and pictographs.

Nine Mile Canyon Utah (11 Beautiful Canyons in the US You Must See in Your Lifetime).
Bureau of Land Management / creative commons

Bryce, UT 84764, map

This is not your typical canyon because it’s filled with hoodoos or pillars of rock. It has the highest concentration of hoodoos, which makes for some of the most photogenic landscapes.

Bryce Canyon Utah (11 Beautiful Canyons in the US You Must See in Your Lifetime).

1 Zion Park Blvd, St Route 9, Springdale, UT 84767, map

Zion National Park offers spectacular views, amazing hikes, and can be reached via its two major roads. It’s a great place to visit for anyone as it offers a wide range of ways to experience the canyon, including scenic views from the road and hiking through them.

The Narrows Zion Utah National Parks

4304 Bullfrog, Lake Powell, UT 84533, map

It’s most well known for Horseshoe Bend but offers a lot to explore in its 1.2 million-acre national park. If you’re up for a challenging hike, we highly recommend Reflection Canyon. It’s by far one of our favorite spots in the park and quiet.

Reflection Canyon Glen Canyon National Recreation Area

Chinle, AZ 86503, map

Owned by the Navajo Nation, you can view Canyon De Chelly from the rim or visit the canyon floor when accompanied by a park ranger or Navajo guide. Spider Rock, which is a 750-foot sandstone spire, is it’s most recognized feature.

Canyon de Chelly Spider Rock

7. Buckskin Gulch, Paria Canyon, Utah

Utah 84741, map

Making its home in the Paria Canyon-Vermilion Cliffs Wilderness Area, Buckskin Gulch is the deepest slot canyon in the Southwest United States. It’s highly regulated, requiring permits for day hikes and only allowing 20 overnight permits every day! Our friend recently did this epic hike, and we can’t wait to get our hands on permits too.

Buckskin Gulch Utah

Big Bend National Park, TX, 79834, map

This is one of the most popular spots to visit in Bend National Park. You can hike, paddle the river, or just enjoy the beautiful scenery. When we were there, there were multiple photoshoots happening, including a wedding shoot.

Santa Elena Canyon Big Bend National Park Texas + 11 Beautiful Canyons in the US You Must Explore

11450 State Hwy Park Rd 5, Canyon, TX 79015, map

Known as the “Grand Canyon of Texas,” Palo Duro Canyon is the second largest canyon in the United States. It is 120 miles long with depths up to 997 feet.

Palo Duro Canyon in Texas

Grand Canyon, AZ 86023, map

You can’t make this list without including the granddaddy of all canyons. The Grand Canyon is one of the largest and longest canyons in the world and one of the 7 Natural Wonders of the World.

It can be explored in so many ways. You can drive up to viewpoints, do a helicopter tour, white-water raft down the Colorado River, or even walk out onto a glass bridge. The rim-to-rim hike has also made our list of 25 Best Hikes in the World.

Las Vegas Grand Canyon Tours with Maverick Helicopter.

Las Vegas to Grand Canyon Tour with Maverick Helicopters.

11. Waimea Canyon, Hawaii, USA

Waimea Canyon Dr, Waimea, HI 96796, map

Holding the title for the largest canyon in the Pacific, Waimea Canyon makes its home on the island of Kauai. It’s 10 miles long, 1 mile wide, and 3,600 feet deep.

Waimea Canyon Kauai Hawaii + 11 Beautiful Canyons in the US You Must Explore

745 East, US-89, Kanab, UT 84741, map

Also making its home in the Paria Canyon-Vermilion Cliffs Wilderness Area and more specifically the Coyote Buttes North Area, “The Wave” offers a surreal look into what Mother Nature can do. It’s nearly impossible to get a permit since only 20 people are allowed in a day.

The Wave AZ - a sandstone rock formation popular among hikers and photographers. They only allow 20 people in per day and it's by lottery // localadventurer.com

Map

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More Canyons in the US

  • Alabama – Dismals, Little River
  • Arizona – Marble, Sabino, Salt River, Walnut
  • California – Golden and Mosaic and Natural Bridge and Titus in Death Valley, Grand Canyon of the Tuolumne in Yosemite, Kings Canyon
  • ColoradoBlack Canyon of the Gunnison, Gates of Lodore, Glenwood, Monument in Colorado National Monument, Royal Gorge, Ruby (also UT)
  • Georgia – Tallulah Gorge
  • IdahoHell’s Canyon (also OR, WA)
  • Kentucky – Red River Gorge
  • Maine – Ripogenus Gorge
  • Montana – Bad Rock, Bighorn (also in WY)
  • Nevada – Echo, Red Rock
  • New Hampshire – Flume Gorge
  • New Mexico – Chaco, Rio Grande Gorge
  • NY – Ausable Chasm, Genesee River Gorge, Niagara Gorge
  • North Carolina – Linville Gorge
  • OregonColumbia River Gorge (also WA)
  • Pennsylvania – Lehigh River Gorge, Pine Creek Gorge
  • Tennessee – Big South Fork of the Cumberland River Gorge (also in KY) 
  • Texas – Boquillas and Mariscal in Big Bend NP, McKittrick in Guadalupe Mountains NP
  • Utah – Bluejohn, Canyonlands National Park, Cateract, Desolation, Flaming Gorge (also WY), Grand Staircase Escalante, Fremont River, Horseshoe, Logan, Provo, San Rafael River Gorge, Virgin River Gorge (also AZ), Westwater
  • Vermont – Quechee Gorge
  • Virginia – Breaks (also KY), James River Gorge
  • Washington – Moses Coulee, Grand Coulee
  • West Virginia – New River Gorge
  • Wyoming – Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone, Wind River
  • Puerto Rico – Saint Christopher’s

What's the Difference between a canyon vs gorge

They can be used interchangeably. Canyon is a more widely used term in the US and gorge is more widely used in Europe. I always thought a gorge needed to have a river flowing through it, but it turns out they can go either way.

What to Pack for Your Hike

Best Places to Stay

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How many of these canyons in the US have you visited? Can you think of any others we should check out?

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Esther + Jacob

Esther and Jacob are the founders of Local Adventurer, which is one of the top 5 travel blogs in the US. They believe that adventure can be found both near and far and hope to inspire others to explore locally. They explore a new city in depth every year and currently base themselves in Las Vegas.

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This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Great post and excellent information! I’d add Hell’s Canyon along the Idaho/Oregon border to that. It’s the deepest river gorge in North America at 7,993 ft deep at it’s deepest point. That’s nearly 2,000 feet deeper than the Grand Canyon! Great camping, beautiful scenery, world-class whitewater rafting, and some of the best Sturgeon fishing around. There’s also the Snake River Canyon near Twin Falls, ID. Home to two major waterfalls, including the “Niagara of the West”, Shoshone Falls is 212 feet high, which is taller than Niagara. Just outside of Twin Falls is the famous Perrine Bridge, which is the only US location open to BASE jumping year round. Perrine Bridge is also near the site of an unsuccessful attempt to jump the canyon by Evel Knievel in 1974.

    1. Oh yess! We definitely need to add Hell’s Canyon.

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