11 Beautiful Canyons in the US You Must Explore

11 Beautiful Canyons in the US You Must Explore

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 are around us worth exploring.

Last Updated: July 28, 2018     First Published: Mar 30, 2015

11 Breathtaking Canyons in the US to Explore

1. Antelope Canyon, Arizona, USA

This is probably the most popular slot canyons for photographers and tourists alike. Antelope Canyon is made up of two separate canyons, Upper and Lower Antelope. It can only be visited with a permit and guide. We’ve been to the lower canyons, which was the less crowded of the two, and required little hiking.

More: What You Need to Know Before Visiting Antelope Canyon

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

2. Buckskin Gulch, Utah, USA

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 a highly regulated canyon requiring permits for day hikes and only allowing 20 overnight permits every day!

Buckskin Gulch Utah (11 Beautiful Canyons in the US You Must Explore).Buckskin Gulch Utah (11 Beautiful Canyons in the US You Must Explore).
left: John Fowler; right: Adam Baker / creative commons

3. Nine Mile Canyon, Utah, USA

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

4. Canyon De Chelly, Arizona, USA

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 Arizona (11 Beautiful Canyons in the US You Must Explore).
Marina & Enrique / creative commons

5. Bryce Canyon, Utah, USA

Bryce Canyon doesn’t look like 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 canyon land.

More: 9 Amazing Things to Do in Bryce Canyon

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

6. Waimea Canyon, Hawaii, USA

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

Waimea Canyon Hawaii (11 Beautiful Canyons in the US You Must Explore).
sharkhats / creative commons

7. Palo Duro Canyon, Texas, USA

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.

More: 101 Things to Do in Austin Texas

Palo Duro Canyon Texas (11 Breathtaking Canyons in the US You Must Explore).
bug138 / creative commons

8. Glen Canyon, Arizona, USA

Glen Canyon is most well known for Horseshoe Bend but offers a lot to explore in its 1.2 million acre national park.

Glen Canyon Arizona (11 Beautiful Canyons in the US You Must Explore in Your Lifetime).
Nagaraju Hanchanahal / creative commons

9. Zion Canyon, Utah, USA

Making its home in Zion National Park, Zion Canyon 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.

More: Backpacking Gear List for the Zion Narrows Hike

Zion Canyon Utah (11 Beautiful Canyons in the US You Must Explore in Your Lifetime).

10. Santa Elena Canyon, Texas, USA

Making its home in Big Bend National Park, Santa Elena Canyon is one of the most popular spots to visit. You can hike, paddle the river, or just enjoy the beautiful scenery.

Santa Elena Canyon Texas (11 Beautiful Canyons in the US You Must Explore).
Yinan Chen / creative commons

11. The Grand Canyon, Arizona, USA

You can’t make a list of canyons and not include the grand daddy of all canyons. The Grand Canyon is one of the 7 Natural Wonders of the World and 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.

More: The Grand Canyon Helicopter Tour

Las Vegas Grand Canyon Tours with Maverick Helicopter.Las Vegas to Grand Canyon Tour with Maverick Helicopters.

BONUS: The Wave, Arizona, USA

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. We’ve been hoping to get a permit to hike the area, but it’s proven to be quite difficult since they use a lottery system.

More: How to Get the Wave Permits in Arizona

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

Which canyons in the US have you visited? Where would you want to visit most?

“Meet

ESTHER + JACOB

Esther and Jacob are the founders of Local Adventurer, which is one of the top 25 travel blogs in the world. They believe that adventure can be found both near and far and hope to inspire others to explore locally. They explore a new city every year and currently base themselves in NYC.

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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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