Bucket List February 15, 2022
by Sarah McCosham 16 Captivating Canyons Scattered Across America That Rival The Grand Canyon
There’s nothing quite like standing at the precipice of a canyon, gazing out at the immense expanse stretching endlessly into the horizon. It’s a momentous moment that anchors you in the here and now, and something you really must experience in person. While there is one
grand canyon that needs to introduction, there are extraordinary canyons all across the country that are equally brilliant and breathtaking. So let the following photographs and words be your inspiration, guiding your future travels and bucket-list escapades to our country’s most captivating and commanding canyons.
Columbia River Gorge - Oregon and Washington
The Crown Jewel of the Pacific Northwest
, the Columbia River Gorge is the largest natural scenic area in the United States. The mighty Columbia River serves as the border between Oregon and Washington, and there are all sorts of treasures awaiting you on both states’ sides. Known for its abundance of waterfalls (there are over 90 on the Oregon side alone), the Columbia River Gorge is immensely scenic and beautiful. One of the best ways to see the highlights of this natural wonder is by driving the Historic Columbia River Scenic Byway. This 75-mile scenic highway winds past dozens of amazing waterfalls, scenic viewpoints, charming small towns, and hiking areas. Lewis and Clark first happened upon the Columbia River Gorge during their expeditions in 1806, and we can only imagine how awestruck they were at discovering this pristine PNW paradise. Go discover it for yourself, and experience total awe and wonder.
Columbia River Gorge N S A Boundary, Washington 98605, USA
Yellowstone Grand Canyon - Wyoming
Yellowstone National Park
is one of the most remarkable places on the planet, full of immense beauty and wonder. It has its very own Grand Canyon, too, and it's a place that's every bit as extraordinary as the park itself. The Grand Canyon of Yellowstone is easily the most majestic sight in the park: it's 20 miles long, 4,000 feet wide, and 1,200 feet deep. Its mineral-marked walls speak to the great history of this wondrous place, and Yellowstone's Upper and Lower falls crash through the canyon in an incredible display of power. There's nowhere in the world like the Yellowstone Grand Canyon, and it's truly a place that both inspires and satisfies wanderlust.
Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone, Wyoming 82190, USA
Death Valley National Park - California and Nevada
One of the most sublime and intriguing places in the country,
Death Valley National Park
is an otherworldly wonder. Situated on the border of California and Nevada, Death Valley is a land of extremes: it's the hottest, driest, and lowest-elevation national park in the country. Unique geographical features such as the salt flats, which stretch for 200 square miles, seemingly endless sand dunes, and sedimentary badlands form the landscape of Death Valley, creating a landscape that's wholly unique and uncanny. If you're going to visit, do so during the winter months; in the summer, temperatures in Death Valley can climb up to 120 degrees Fahrenheit, living up to the warning inherent in this national park's name.
Zabriskie Point, California, USA
Antelope Canyon - Arizona
Provocative and undulating,
isn't so much a place as it is an experience. Located on land belonging to the LeChee Chapter of the Navajo Nation in northern Arizona, Antelope is a slot canyon with tall sandstone walls, captivating orange and red hues, and wholly unique natural designs. Created by the slow seeping of water into the natural cracks of sandstone; over the years, these small cracks turned into large, narrow gorges -- known as slot canyons -- that are dramatic and deep. One of the most famous slot canyons in the country, Antelope Canyon features two distinct areas to explore; Upper Antelope Canyon is unique, as the entrance into this canyon is at ground level. You do not have to climb or rappel to access this area of the canyon, making this an accessible place for anyone with an adventurous soul and spirit.
Antelope Canyon, Arizona 86040, USA
Glen Canyon National Recreation Area - Arizona and Utah
The Grand Canyon might be the most well-known canyon in Arizona (and the world), but it's not the only incredible canyon in the state. For proof of this, look no further than
Glen Canyon National Recreation Area
, a 1.2-million acre national park that's home to the eponymous Glen Canyon. The most distinct feature of Glen Canyon is its natural bridges; in fact, this national park is home to one of the world's largest-known natural bridges, and the single largest in the country. Spanning 234 feet, Rainbow Bridge is considered sacred to a number of local Native American tribes, and it attracts nearly 85,000 visitors from all over the globe each year. Comprised of sandstone deposited by wind as dunes, the bridge began forming about 200 million years ago, and it's so massive, it's visible from outer space!
Glen Canyon, Arizona 86036, USA
*The* Grand Canyon - Arizona
When a place is as ingrained in our national consciousness as the Grand Canyon, it's easy to lose sight of just how extraordinary a place
Arizona's Grand Canyon
is. So allow us to reacquaint you with this national natural wonder. The Grand Canyon is one of the largest and longest canyons on Earth, and one of the 7 Natural Wonders of the World. A playground for outdoor enthusiasts, the Grand Canyon is also a beloved destination for waterfall chasers, as it's home to some of the country's finest falls. The Grand Canyon can be explored in myriad ways: you can drive up to scenic viewpoints, explore on a helicopter tour, whitewater raft down the Colorado River, or even walk out onto a glass bridge. But however you chose to experience *the* Grand Canyon, know it will be a bucket-list-worthy adventure you'll never forget.
Grand Canyon, Arizona 86052, USA
Zion Canyon - Utah
There are some places in the world that will leave an imprint on your soul.
Zion National Park in Utah
is one those unforgettable places. Located in southern Utah, Zion National Park was established in 1919, making it the state's very first national park. But it's not simply Utah's original state park; it's Utah's most spectacular state park. The park’s most distinguishing feature is the steep red cliffs of the eponymous Zion Canyon. In fact, the park is often referred to as a “vertical park” because of its sharp, scarped sides. In addition to this epic, expansive canyon, Zion is also home to more than 90 miles of hiking and backpacking trails, making it an amazing place for near-endless exploration and adventure.
Zion Canyon, Springdale, UT 84737, USA
Nine Mile Canyon - Utah
Another superlative showstopper in Utah, Nine Mile Canyon is a bit of a misnomer; this incredible canyon spans 46 magnificent miles and features art created more than a thousand years ago. Often called the world's largest art gallery,
Nine Mile Canyon
features tens of thousands of prehistoric petroglyphs and pictographs that adorn its rocky red walls. This winding and rocky canyon was home to Fremont and Ute people for thousands of years, and eventually became a route for European fur trappers, traders, and settlers. Today, the ancient artworks make this wholly unique canyon a top destination for history buffs, nature lovers, archaeologists, and explorers.
Nine Mile Canyon Road, Nine Mile Cyn Rd, Utah, USA
Black Canyon of Gunnison - Colorado
With its tan-streaked canyon walls, austere angles, and sharp crevices,
Colorado's Black Canyon commands -- and demands -- attention
. Located along the state's Western Slope, the Black Canyon of the Gunnison is a 48-mile-long gorge that encompasses the Gunnison River below and features dramatic walls and cliffs above, and it's been hailed as Colorado's superlative park. Featuring breathtaking vistas, unrivaled camping opportunities, and extraordinary natural features, there is plenty to love about the Black Canyon of the Gunnison, especially when explored on foot via one of the beautiful trails. Said to house some of the oldest rock, most precipitous cliffs, and craggiest spires in the country, the Black Canyon is also unique in that the Gunnison River drops an average of 34 feet per mile (versus the Grand Canyon's Colorado River, which lowers an average of 7.5 feet per mile). Add it all up, and you've the makings of a truly remarkable place of immense grandeur that shouldn't be missed.
Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park, Colorado, USA
Santa Elena Canyon - Texas
While everything is certainly bigger in Texas, Santa Elena Canyon is a place of intricate and quiet beauty that's positively sublime. Santa Elena Canyon, a majestic limestone grotto nestled deep within the
, is the prettiest and most popular feature of Big Bend National Park. While there are many ways to explore this commanding canyon, kayaking will give you the most immersive experience. The Rio Grande meanders right through the canyon for 13 miles, making it an ideal -- and idyllic -- kayaking spot. Several outfitters offer trips that range in length from one to three days, appealing to a variety of skill levels. Along the way, you'll pass rare wildlife and even get the opportunity to camp on spacious sandbars, all while reveling in the resplendence of this incredible Texas canyon.
Santa Elena Canyon, Texas 79852, USA
Palo Duro Canyon - Texas
Grand Canyon of Texas
, Palo Duro Canyon is the second largest canyon in the country. Within the eponymous state park, there are numerous ways to explore the canyon, starting with its 30 miles of trails. This canyon is 120 miles long and 20 miles wide, and is up to 800 feet deep in some areas. A place of immense history, you can see the beautiful colors of four geologic layers painted on the colossal canyon walls. The canyon began forming a million years ago -- but the walls of the canyon tell a much older geologic story, one that began 250 million years ago! Prepare to experience total awe and wonder at Palo Duro Canyon.
Arkansas Grand Canyon - Arkansas
Nestled in the wondrous Arkansas Ozarks, there's a grand canyon that's quite possibly one of the country's best-kept secrets. Running alongside AR 7, this gorge -- known colloquially as the Arkansas Grand Canyon -- is an expansive and extraordinary wonder in the Natural State. While much smaller in stature than the iconic Arizona canyon, the vistas of the Arkansas Grand Canyon are no less dazzling. In fact, this canyon
offers a 180-degree view of the Ozarks
, another oft-overlooked region of the U.S. that's a true natural beauty.
Arkansas Grand Canyon View Cabins, 10217 AR-7 South, Jasper, AR 72641, USA
Red River Gorge - Kentucky
Kentucky might be best-known as the home of the world's largest cavern system, but natural wonders abound aboveground, too. For proof of this, look no further than Red River Gorge. Dubbed
The Grand Canyon of Kentucky
, Red River Gorge is a canyon system along the Red River in the eastern part of the state. A magical place any time of the year, Red River Gorge offers some of the very best outdoor recreation in the country. While the hiking is unrivaled in this park (there are 60 miles of mapped hiking trails in various spots throughout the Gorge), those with limited mobility or who wish to explore the scenery in a more leisurely manner can take the Red River Gorge Scenic Byway, a 46-mile route with some of the most jaw-dropping scenery in the country.
Red River Gorge Geological Area, Robbie Ridge Rd, Stanton, KY 40380, USA
Letchworth State Park - New York
In Upstate New York, there’s a particularly epic, 176-foot waterfall that attracts upwards of 8 million visitors each year and definitely demands the spotlight. Of course, we’re talking about Niagara Falls, which truly is one of the world’s most splendid natural wonders. However, there’s another destination that’s less than two hours from the world-famous falls that’s equally wondrous and meritorious in its own right: Letchworth State Park. This New York State Park has some of the most sublime scenery in the country. Here, the Genesee River roars through the majestic gorge, over picture-perfect tiered waterfalls, between stately cliffs, and along the lush Upstate wilderness. Lauded as the
Grand Canyon of the East
, Letchworth State Park is magnificent, and truly one of our country's most beguiling and beautiful places.
Letchworth State Park, 1 Letchworth State Park, Castile, NY 14427, USA
Gulf Hagas - Maine
At the eastern edge of the United States, you'll discover one of the most eye-catching canyons in the country.
is a roughly three-mile-long stretch of rock walls that tower over the river rushing nearly 500 feet below. Nicknamed “the Grand Canyon of Maine” — and even “the Grand Canyon of the East” — it’s found along the northern stretch of the Appalachian Trail and features a network of trails, incredible rock formations, and a series of beautiful waterfalls. If while hiking you begin to question why Gulf Hagas is considered the "Grand Canyon of Maine," keep hiking: you’re likely only moments away from stumbling upon a vista that's sure to render you speechless.
Gulf Hagas Mountain, Northeast Piscataquis, ME 04414, USA
Waimea Canyon - Hawaii
Hawaii is a bucket-list destination in its own right, so a place like
truly is the icing on the cake. Called The Grand Canyon of the Pacific, Waimea Canyon is an immensely majestic place that's a true national treasure. With brilliant shades of red, brown, green, blue, gray, and even purple, Waimea Canyon State Park is a colorful wonderland that encompasses approximately 1,866 acres and is one of the island’s most popular destinations. At nearly 14 miles long, one mile wide, and more than 3,600 feet deep, the stunning Waimea Canyon isn't simply flush with commanding cliffs, vibrant colors, and cascading waterfalls; it's Hawaii’s most unspoiled and unrivaled natural beauty.
Waimea Canyon, Hawaii 96796, USA
The U.S. is home to some of the most beautiful places on Earth, and these canyons are some of our country’s most transcendent treasures.
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