Arizona’s Grand Canyon is in fact grand, but it’s not the only impressive crevasse in Earth’s surface. These seven canyons are also jaw-dropping and worthy of praise. Several are among the world’s deepest and longest, and what the rest lack in record-setting measurements they make up for in unprecedented beauty. From Hawaii’s Waimea Canyon with its vast palate of colors to Peru’s impressively deep Colca Canyon, these seven geological wonders are a bucket list must.
Paste Travel’s Bucket List columnist Lauren Kilberg is a Chicago-based freelance writer. Her travels have found her camping near the Pakistani border of India and conquering volcanoes in the Philippines.
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Dubbed the Grand Canyon of the Pacific, Hawaii's Waimea Canyon is 14 miles long and more than a mile wide. The Waimea River helped erode the surrounding landscape to form the canyon, which revealed layers of sunset-hued lava rock. It's located within the 1,866-acre Waimea Canyon State Park on the island of Kauai. Aside from its size and impressive color, Waimea Canyon is home to crags and crested buttes, among its many geological offerings.
Photo by: sharkhats, CC BY-NC 2.0
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At 100 miles long, more than 16 miles wide and just over 1,804 feet deep, Fish River Canyon is officially Africa's largest. Located in southern Namibia, the canyon is one of the country's most popular attractions and for obvious reasons. If you're planning a visit, head to Hobas where you'll find a rest area and the trail head for hiking the canyon and its surrounding nature conservation park.
Photo by: Bobby Bradley, CC BY-NC 2.0
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At 10,725 feet deep, Colca Canyon is more than twice as deep as the Grand Canyon and one of the deepest in the world. Located within the vibrant Colca Valley in the Andres of southern Peru, the canyon contains a number of worthwhile sites, including La Calera hot springs and the caves of Mollepunko with their 6,000-year-old rock art. Visit the canyon and you might also spot some of its impressive wildlife like the Andean condor and giant hummingbird.
Photo by: Joe, CC BY 2.0
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Charyn Canyon and the surrounding national park is home to the Valley of Castles and its abundantly beautiful rock formations. Located in Kazakhstan near the border with China, the canyon began to form some three million years ago with help from the erosive forces of the Charyn River. While it's just shy of two miles long and less than 1,000 feet deep, it has come to known as the Grand Canyon's little brother due to its comparable beauty.
Photo by: Mariusz Kluzniak, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
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Not only is South Africa's Blyde River Canyon one of the world's largest, it's uniquely one of its greenest as well. The 16-mile-long canyon's red sandstone is predominately covered in lush vegetation. Head to the Three Rondavels, a scenic outlook with three rock pinnacles, for one of the best views of the canyon.
Photo by: Armin Rodler, CC BY-NC 2.0
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The fiery red, pink and orange hoodoos of Utah's Bryce Canyon make it look as though the landscape is aflame. Despite its name, it's not technically a canyon by geological definition, but it makes this list in name. Bryce Canyon contains the world's largest collection of hoodoos, rock pillars formed from erosion, that together form natural amphitheaters carved into the rim of the Paunsaugunt Plateau.
Photo by: Nagaraju Hanchanahal, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
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Not only is it larger than the Grand Canyon, but at points Copper Canyon is deeper as well. Located in Mexico's Sierra Madre Occidental, it's actually comprised of six individual canyons named for their copper and green-hued rocks. A popular method for exploring the area is aboard the Chihuahua al Pacifico train, which takes you through tunnels and over bridges on a scenic tour of the canyon and its surrounds.
Photo by: Comisión Mexicana de Filmaciones, CC BY-SA 2.0