If you are an outdoor enthusiast and a nature lover, you know how exciting visiting a canyon can be. Not only can you hike and climb, but the rivers below offer opportunities for kayaking, canoeing, and floating. Canyons also provide unmatched vistas for photographers and those who simply want to take in incredible, panoramic views. Knowing the deep valleys and high cliffs of a canyon have taken thousands of years to form as a result of weathering incites the realization of the majesty of these natural landforms. Deep canyons offer the most drastic adventures and views, often including once-in-a-lifetime experiences. Below you will find the five deepest canyons in the worlds to help you plan your next adventure travel getaway.
Grand Canyon, United States
As the deepest, and most famous, canyon in the United States and one of the deepest in the world, the Grand Canyon is a sight to behold. Its deepest point is 6,093 feet. It's also a large canyon, which can fit the entire state of Rhode Island. Scientists estimate that the Colorado River began carving the canyon through modern day Arizona about six million years ago, but some studies estimate the process began almost 70 million years ago.
Visitors can view the canyon from its rims, or take a hike on one of the many trails within the canyon. Bright Angel remains one of the Grand Canyon's most popular trails. With multiple switchbacks, hikers can explore the canyon and get amazing views of the large cliffs, if they don't want to go white-water rafting in the Colorado River. Visitors who are more about the view than heading out on a trail can find great vantage points at the North Rim and the South Rim stations; however, a visit to the Grand Canyon isn't complete with out viewing it from The Skywalk at Grand Canyon West, a horseshoe steel frame with a glass floor that extends about 70 feet from the rim of the canyon.
Urique Canyon, Mexico
Urique Canyon is one of the six canyons that make up the area referred to as Copper Canyon in Mexico's Sierra Madre Occidental Mountains in the state of Chihuahua. As the deepest (6,236 feet) and largest of the canyons, Urique draws visitors from all over the world, especially those who want to explore and view Copper Canyon by train. El Chepe, the train that traverses the canyon remains one of the most scenic rides in the world. El Chepe makes several stops along its journey from Chihuahua to Los Mochis, giving ample opportunities for those who want to explore the canyon up close.
Two favorite stops within the canyon are Posada Barrancas and Divisadero, only a few miles from each other. Divisadero doesn't offer much for amenities, but it does have a hotel on the rim of the canyon. Most stop here to take in the spectacular view from one of the best lookout points along the trip through Urique Canyon. Additionally, the top attraction in the area is an adventure park, which gives visitors the chance to experience Copper Canyon in a different way.
Cotahuasi Canyon, Peru
This remote canyon in the Andes Mountains is almost double the depth of the Grand Canyon at its deepest point of 11,595 feet. The largest city near Cotahuasi Canyon is Arequipa, Peru, located about 123 miles southeast of the canyon. The area is home to some smaller towns and villages whose residents farm the protected area of the canyon, which includes well over a million acres.
Those who venture into Cotahuasi are true adventure travelers at heart. The steep cliffs and remoteness of the location are only suitable for those who want to experience a truly rugged canyon adventure that includes trekking, climbing and kayaking. Those who visit don't need a permit to enter the reserve, but they should be aware that the local flora and fauna are protected by law. Additionally, local farmers still practice traditional farming techniques to grow ancient crops such as quinoa, maize, chilpe, kiwicha, and other beans. Local farmers also raise llamas and sheep as they chew locally grown coca leaves for energy.
Colca Canyon, Peru
One reason Cotahuasi Canyon might not be as popular of a tourist destination is the fact that the world's second deepest canyon, Colca Canyon, is also in Peru and is much more easily accessed from Arequipa, the country's second largest city. Colca Canyon reaches depths of more than 13,600 feet, making it a truly wondrous site for those who visit and take in the picturesque views from its rim. The most popular vantage point in the valley is Chivay, also home to La Calera hot springs, a favorite of locals and tourists alike. Chivay offers travelers accommodations, dining, shopping, and tourist activities blended with local traditions. When you begin to explore the wonder of Colca Canyon, pay special attention to the majestic Andean condors flying throughout the canyon. One popular lookout point that offers breathtaking views is Cruz del Cóndor, located only a few short miles from Chivay.
Yarlung Tsangpo Grand Canyon, Tibet
The deepest canyon in the world, Yarlung Tsangpo, reaches depths of more than 25,000 feet near the valley where Mount Namcha Barwa is located along the Yarlung Tsangpo River, which runs through Tibet. This highly remote, unspoiled region of the the globe has distinctive flora and fauna such as the takin, a goat-like mammal endemic to the region. The vast size of the river and the canyon also result in multiple different climate zones. On one part of the canyon you can be in sub-tropical temperatures, while near the highest peaks trekkers will experience arctic-like conditions. In fact, the Yarlung Tsangpo River is so daunting, it has earned the nickname "Everest of Rivers." As of 2019, no one has successfully rafted or kayaked the entire river.