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11 Breathtaking Canyons in the US You Can’t Miss

Love exploring canyons? You need to add these to your bucket list.

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.

11 most breathtaking canyons in the usPin

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Last Updated: November 1, 2023

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.

1. Antelope Canyon, Arizona →

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.

See More: What You Need to Know Before Visiting Antelope Canyon

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 petroglyphs + 15 beautiful canyons in the usPin

3. Bryce Canyon, Utah, USA →

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.

See More: 9 Amazing Things to Do in Bryce Canyon National Park

4. Zion Cayon, Utah, USA →

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

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

See More:15 Best Hikes in Zion National Park

5. GLen Canyon, Arizona →

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 very quiet. You can even camp there to take in the night sky.

See More:11 Fun Things to Do in Lake Powell and Glen Canyon National Recreation Area

Reflection Canyon Glen Canyon National Recreation AreaPin

6. Canyon De Chelly, Arizona, USA

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 RockPin

7. Buckskin Gulch, Paria Canyon, Utah

Utah 84741, map

Buckskin Gulch is the deepest slot canyon in the Southwest United States. It’s within the Paria Canyon-Vermilion Cliffs Wilderness, a highly regulated area that requires 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.

See More:11+ Incredible Things to Do in Kanab Utah Area

Buckskin Gulch UtahPin

8. Santa Elena Canyon, Texas →

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.

See More:11 Amazing Things You Can’t Miss in Big Bend National Park

Santa Elena Canyon + 11 Amazing Things to Do in Big Bend National ParkPin

9. Palo Duro Canyon, Texas

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.

See More:101 Things to Do in Austin Texas

Palo Duro Canyon in TexasPin

10. The Grand Canyon, Arizona, USA →

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.

See More:The Ultimate Las Vegas to Grand Canyon Road Trip

moran point grand canyonPin

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 ExplorePin

Map of the Best Canyons in the US

List of Canyons in the US

  • Alabama – Cane Creek, Dismals, Little River, Tennessee River Gorge
  • Arizona – AntelopeGlen Canyon (also UT), Canyon de Chelly, Grand Canyon, Marble, Sabino, Salt River, Walnut
  • California – Golden and Mosaic and Natural Bridge and Titus in Death Valley, Grand Canyon of the Tuolumne in YosemiteKings Canyon
  • Colorado – Black Canyon of the Gunnison, Gates of Lodore, Glenwood, Monument in Colorado National Monument, Royal Gorge, Ruby (also UT)
  • Georgia – Cloudland, Providence, Tallulah Gorge
  • Hawaii – Waimea
  • Idaho – Hell’s Canyon (also OR, WA)
  • Kentucky – Red River Gorge
  • Maine – Ripogenus Gorge
  • Montana – Bad Rock, Bighorn (also in WY)
  • Nevada – Black Canyon, Echo, Grapevine, PastelRed Rock, Titus
  • New Hampshire – Flume Gorge
  • New Mexico – Chaco, Rio Grande Gorge
  • NY – Ausable Chasm, Genesee River Gorge, Niagara Gorge
  • North Carolina – Linville Gorge
  • Oregon – Columbia 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 and Santa Elena in Big Bend NP, McKittrick in Guadalupe Mountains NP, Palo Duro
  • Utah – Bluejohn, Bryce Canyon, Buckskin Gulch, Canyonlands National Park, Cateract, Cedar Breaks National Monument, Desolation, Flaming Gorge (also WY), Grand Staircase Escalante, Fremont River, Horseshoe, Logan, Nine Mile Canyon, Provo, San Rafael River Gorge, Spooky Gulch, Virgin River Gorge (also AZ), Westwater, Zion
  • 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

Top 10 Largest Canyons in the US

  1. Grand Canyon, Arizona
  2. Palo Duro Canyon, Texas
  3. Antelope Canyon, Arizona
  4. Columbia River Gorge, Oregon
  5. Royal Gorge Canyon, Colorado
  6. Hells Canyon, Oregon & Idaho
  7. Kings Canyon, California
  8. Death Valley, California
  9. Black Canyon, Colorado
  10. Bryce Canyon, Utah

List of Canyons in the World

Top 10 Deepest Canyons in the World

  1. Yarlung Zangbo Grand Canyon, Tibet, China (6,009 m/19,714 ft)
  2. Kali Gandaki Gorge, Nepal (5,571 m/18,277 ft)
  3. Indus Gorge, Pakistan (5,200 m/17,060 ft)
  4. Colca Canyon, Peru (4,160 m/13,648 ft)
  5. Tiger Leaping Gorge, China (3,790 m/12,434 ft)
  6. Cotahuasi Canyon, Peru (3,535 m/11,597 ft)
  7. Hell’s Canyon, USA (2,411 m/7,913 feet)
  8. Urique Canyon, Mexico (1,879 m/6.164 ft)
  9. Grand Canyon, USA (1,828 m/5,997 ft)
  10. Blyde River Canyon, South Africa (1,383 m/4,537 ft)

Top 10 Largest Canyons in the World

  1. Kali Gandaki Gorge, Nepal
  2. The Grand Canyon, USA
  3. Capertee Valley, Australia
  4. Yarlung Tsangpo Grand Canyon, Tibet
  5. Fish River Canyon, Namibia
  6. Cotahuasi Canyon, Peru
  7. Colca Canyon, Peru
  8. Copper Canyon, Mexico
  9. Blyde River Canyon, South Africa
  10. Tara River Canyon, Montenegro

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.

Recap of the Best Canyons in the US

  1. Antelope Canyon, Arizona
  2. Nine Mile Canyon, Utah
  3. Bryce Canyon, Utah
  4. Zion Canyon, Utah
  5. Glen Canyon, Arizona
  6. Canyon De Chelly, Arizona
  7. Buckskin Gulch, Paria Canyon, Utah
  8. Santa Elena Canyon, Texas
  9. Palo Duro Canyon, Texas
  10. The Grand Canyon, Arizona
  11. Waimea Canyon, Hawaii

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 and JacobPin

Esther + Jacob

Esther and Jacob are the founders of Local Adventurer, one of the top 5 travel blogs in the US. They believe that adventure can be found 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. Bryan Shigihara

    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. jacob

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

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