50 Spectacular Canyons in the US You Need to See to Believe!

Best canyons in the US blog cover image.  Text overlaying an image of a couple looking out over Zion canyon which is considered one of the best canyons in the united states.

The United States is home to a diverse variety of incredible canyons that include the largest, steepest, narrowest, and most colorful canyons in the world.

Whether you are looking for grandiose hikes such as those to the bottom of the Grand Canyon in Arizona or the Black Canyon in Colorado, or adventurous scrambles through the narrow, wind-carved slot canyons of the Southwest, you will discover the best of the best to add to your US bucket list.

Best Canyons in the US Overview

Canyons can range in all facets, from shape to size to coloration. And, as you will discover shortly, beauty is not directly correlated to any one of these features.

Top 20 Most Beautiful Canyons in the US

Ranked in order of beauty, the best canyons in the US are:

  1. Antelope Slot Canyon
  2. Bryce Canyon
  3. Grand Canyon
  4. Waimea Canyon
  5. Reflection Canyon
  6. Black Canyon of the Gunnison
  7. The Subway in Zion
  8. Horseshoe Bend
  9. Grand Canyon of Yellowstone
  10. Zion Narrows Canyon
  11. Canyonlands
  12. Snow Canyon
  13. Little Wild Horse Canyon
  14. Santa Elena Canyon
  15. Columbia River Gorge
  16. Zebra Slot Canyon
  17. Wirepass Slot Canyon
  18. Kings Canyon
  19. Death Valley Canyon
  20. Hells Canyon
Antelope Slot Canyon is the most beautiful canyon in the world.
Antelope Slot Canyon is the most beautiful canyon in the world.

Best Canyons in the US by type:

You will find each of these canyons and locations on the map below.

National Park Canyons

  1. Grand Canyon NP
  2. Black Canyon NP
  3. Bryce Canyon NP
  4. Columbia River Gorge
  5. The Zion Narrows
  6. Canyonlands NP
  7. Grand Canyon of Yellowstone
  8. Horseshoe Bend, Glen Canyon
  9. The Subway in Zion NP
  10. Sulphur Creek Canyon

Nat Park Canyons Cont.

  1. Paria River Canyon
  2. Bighorn Canyon
  3. Santa Elena Canyon
  4. Colorado National Monument
  5. Kings Canyon NP
  6. Red Rock Canyon
  7. New River Gorge NP
  8. Pine Creek Gorge
  9. Hells Canyon
  10. Death Valley NP

Slot Canyons

  1. Upper Antelope Canyon
  2. Lower Antelope Canyon
  3. Little Wild Horse
  4. Wirepass Canyon
  5. Kanarra Creek Canyon
  6. Zebra Slot Canyon
  7. Rattlesnake Canyon
  8. Spooky Gulch Canyon

Slot Canyons Cont.

  1. Red Hollow Canyon
  2. Peek-a-Boo Canyon
  3. Owl Slot Canyon
  4. Willis Creek Canyon
  5. Secret Antelope Canyon
  6. Petroglyph Canyon
  7. Jenny’s Slot Canyon

State Canyons

  1. Waimea Canyon
  2. Reflection Canyon
  3. Snow Canyon State Park
  4. Smith Rock State Park
  5. Dead Horse Point State Park
  6. Palo Duro Canyon State Park
  7. Carmel Canyon
  8. Letchworth State Park

State Canyons cont.

  1. Owyhee Canyon
  2. Keystone Canyon
  3. Tallulah Gorge
  4. Red Rock Canyon State Park
  5. Nine Mile Canyon
  6. Bell Canyon
  7. Royal Gorge

Best Canyons in the US Map

The map below shows all of the best canyons in the USA. They are divided into the same categories as above to help you easily navigate.

Click here or on the image below to open an interactive Google Map version of our Ultimate IS Canyons map in a new tab.

Map of the best canyons in the US
Map of the best canyons in the US.

Best Canyons in the US National Parks

Many of the best canyons in the US have been declared as national parks, monuments, or recreation areas. These tend to be the most popular and most visited canyons in America.

This section highlights the best canyons in the United States being managed by the National Park Service (NPS).

1. Grand Canyon National Park

Location: Arizona

The Grand Canyon is the largest of the canyons in the US, seen here with the milky way setting over it.
The Milky Way sets over the Grand Canyon.

The Grand Canyon is the largest canyon in the entire world and is one of the 7 Natural Wonders of the World. It is the most visited canyon in the US by a wide margin.

Grand Canyon National Park was the 15th site to be given National Park status to protect this miracle of nature.

Explore our Grand Canyon Guides


2. Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park

Location: Colorado

Sunset photography from Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park in Colorado, arguably one of the most beautiful canyons in the US.
Golden hour light spills into the Black Canyon of the Gunnison in Colorado.

The Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park is home to the sheerest, steepest canyon walls in all of North America. While the walls of the black canyon are actually shades of grey and brown, the name is derived from the fact that sunlight only reaches the river bottom for less than one hour per day, even in the summer.

For many years, the Black Canyon of the Gunnison was a National Monument in remote Western Colorado that travelers would pass by. However, after receiving National Park status in 1999, visitors began to discover it and quickly recognized it as being one of the most beautiful canyons in the US.

Explore our Black Canyon of the Gunnison Guide


3. Bryce Canyon National Park

Location: Utah

A lightning storm over Bryce Canyon National Park, one of the prettiest canyons in the US.
A storm over Bryce Canyon National Park, one of the prettiest canyons in the US.

Few people can forget their first time gazing upon the amphitheater at Bryce Canyon National Park in Southern Utah.

Unless you are from the American Southwest, chances are you have never even heard of a hoodoo, but these strange formations will leave you speechless.

While this may not be the largest park or canyon in the US, it is arguably the most beautiful.

Explore our Bryce Canyon Guides


4. Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area

Location: Oregon

Multnomah Falls is the tallest waterfall in Oregon and the crown jewel of the Columbia River Gorge, one of the premier canyons in the US.
Multnomah Falls is the tallest waterfall in Oregon and the crown jewel of the Columbia River Gorge.

One of the official “Seven Wonders of Oregon,” the Columbia River Gorge is a 90-mile canyon of pure Pacific Northwest beauty.

Within this popular Portland-getaway flows more waterfalls than anywhere else in the entire US. Among them is the majestic Multnomah Falls, which is the tallest and most famous waterfall in Oregon.

Explore our Columbia River Gorge Guides


5. The Zion Narrows

Location: Zion National Park, Utah

The Virgin River has carved out one of the most beautiful canyons in the US known as the Zion Narrows.
The Virgin River has carved out one of the most beautiful canyons in the United States known as the Zion Narrows.

Aptly named, The Narrows is the narrowest part of Zion Canyon. Its steep walls tower a thousand feet high with its narrowest sections only 20-30 feet wide.

For most people, reaching The Narrows requires a one-mile hike, wading through the vibrant blue Virgin River from the Temple of Sinawava. However, the more adventurous have the option of a top-down hike which requires permits, some gear, and 16 miles of hiking.

Explore our Zion National Park Guides


6. Canyonlands National Park

Location: Southwest Utah

Professional photography from sunrise at Mesa Arch in Canyonlands National Park, considered one of the Top 10 canyons in the US.
Few sights are more exhilarating than that of Mesa Arch at sunrise from Canyonlands National Park.

The majority of the best canyons in the US are located along the Colorado Plateau spanning a vast area of the American Southwest. Among them, Canyonlands National Park provides one of the most picturesque displays of a landscape shaped by time and water.

There are three distinct regions Canyonlands NP: Island in the Sky, The Needles, and The Maze. The Island in the Sky section is the most popular and accessible. It is also where you will discover one of the most iconic sunrise destinations for photographers in the USA.

Explore our Canyonlands National Park Guides


7. Grand Canyon of Yellowstone

Location: Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming

The bucket list view of Yellowstone Falls in the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone from Artist's Point.
The bucket list view of Yellowstone Falls the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone from Artist’s Point.

Yellowstone National Park is famous for a lot of things, including its reputation as being the most beautiful of all 63 of the US National Parks.

Most people who have never visited Yellowstone NP do not realize that it has its own “grand canyon”, though it is a very miniature version. What the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone lacks in size, however, it more than makes up for in natural beauty.


8. Horseshoe Bend – Glen Canyon

Location: Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, Arizona

Horseshoe Bend is a marvel of nature located in Glen Canyon National Recreation Area.
Horseshoe Bend is a marvel of nature located in Glen Canyon National Recreation Area.

Even if you have never explored the Southwest region of the USA, you have likely seen photos of the iconic Horseshoe Bend. From the viewpoint, the Colorado River curves symmetrically through the vibrant orange earth of Glen Canyon.

Horseshoe Bend is located in Glen Canyon National Recreation Area near the city of Page in Arizona. Though it be small, Page has some of the best canyons you will discover anywhere in the world and will be featured often throughout this guide.

Explore our Glen Canyon Guides


9. The Subway – Zion National Park

Location: Kolob Canyon, Zion National Park, Utah

A challenging 8 mile hike and permit is needed to reach The Subway, arguably the most beautiful of the slot canyons in the US.
A challenging 8 mile hike and permit is needed to reach The Subway, arguably the most beautiful slot canyon in the US.

The Subway is located deep in Zion National Park in the Kolob Canyon region. It is one of the most beautiful canyons in the USA but also one of the most difficult to get to.

Hiking to the bottom of the canyon requires some athletics, technical skills, and a permit which can be difficult to obtain.

Explore our Zion National Park Guides


10. Sulphur Creek Canyon – Capitol Reef NP

Location: Capitol Reef National Park, Utah

The Sulphur Creek has carved a small but beautiful canyon through Capitol Reef National Park.
The Sulphur Creek has carved a small but beautiful canyon through Capitol Reef National Park.

The humble Sulphur Creek may not seem like much, but over the centuries it has managed to carve out a stunning canyon within Capitol Reef National Park.

In order to experience this hidden gem, hikers have to walk through the stream bed from the visitor center.


11. Paria River Canyon (The Wave)

Location: Southern Utah

The Wave in Paria River Canyon is the most iconic and intriguing landscape of any of the canyons in the US.
The Wave in Paria River Canyon.

What you are seeing may well be the most remarkable demonstration of nature’s artistry in the entire United States. This sweeping sandstone is known as “The Wave” and is located in the Paria River Canyon on the border of Utah and Arizona.

If you’re hoping to visit, be aware that this location is tightly guarded and requires winning a literal lottery to acquire permits.

Explore our Southwest Guides


12. Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area

Location: Wyoming

Bighorn Canyon in Wyoming
Bighorn Canyon in Wyoming.
Credit: Sheridan Travel & Tourism / Shawn Parker

Despite being a nationally recognized and protected recreation area, Bighorn Canyon is one of the lesser-known natural marvels.

Most visitors come for the unspoiled nature which provides excellent fishing, camping, and outdoor opportunities. There are also 4 historic ranches on site for those with an interest in the way things were.


13. Santa Elena Canyon – Big Bend NP

Location: Big Bend National Park, Texas

Wading through the Rio Grande in Santa Elena Canyon.
Wading through the Rio Grande in Santa Elena Canyon.

Western Texas is a region known for its stark and desolate desert landscape. While this is mostly the case, Big Bend National Park is a nature and outdoor-lovers oasis stashed away in this remote corner of the country.

Within Big Bend is the Santa Elena Canyon; a large canyon with vertical cliffs created by the Rio Grande.

Explore our Big Bend National Park Guides


14. Colorado National Monument

Location: Colorado

Afternoon photo of Colorado National Monument, also known as "the Little Grand Canyon."
Colorado National Monument, aka “Little Grand Canyon”.

You will find Colorado National Monument tucked away on the Western border of Colorado just after leaving Utah. This park is reminiscent of a “Little Grand Canyon”, with several steep canyons running through it, including Fruita Canyon, Monument Canyon, Ute Canyon, and Red Canyon.

The Colorado National Monument is a scenic drive that takes you up and around these vast canyons with countless viewpoints along the way.

Explore our Colorado National Monument Guides


15. Kings Canyon National Park

Location: California

Fall colors decorate King's Canyon National Park.
Fall colors decorate King’s Canyon National Park.

King’s Canyon National Park is California’s most beautiful canyon and arguably the best canyon in the western states.

An autumn stroll along the Kings River feels like walking in a painting.


16. Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area

Location: Las Vegas, Nevada

The Milky Way rises in the city glow of Red Rock Canyon National Park near Las Vegas, Nevada.
The Milky Way rises in the city glow of Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area near Las Vegas, Nevada.

Red Rock Canyon is located less than an hour’s drive from Las Vegas. This national conservation area provides a quick escape from the city lights to a land of cactus and red rock.

The main attraction is the scenic loop road that allows tourists to explore the otherworldly landscape from a variety of viewpoints along the drive.

Explore our Red Rock Canyon Guides


17. New River Gorge National Park

Location: West Virginia

In December 2020, the 63rd National Park was welcomed to the exclusive collection of America’s most beautiful place. The designated was given to New River Gorge becoming the only national park in West Virginia.

One glance at the intriguing landscape and you will immediately understand why the decision was made to elevate its status. You will also see why it demands a place on the list of the best canyons in America.


18. Pine Creek Gorge in Zion NP

Location: Zion National Park, Utah

The Pine Creek Gorge is a hidden gem with numerous slot canyons located in Zion National Park.
The Pine Creek Gorge is a hidden gem with numerous slot canyons located in Zion National Park.

There are many small slot canyons that exist along the Pine Creek wash in Zion National Park. These can be discovered without technical equipment by parking along one of the many pull-offs along Carmel Highway in eastern Zion can taking a walk through the wash.

Additionally, there is an official “Pine Creek Gorge” within Zion which is a technical canyon and requires additional permits and equipment.

Explore our Zion National Park Guides


19. Hells Canyon National Recreation Area

Location: Oregon / Idaho / Washington border

Spanning the Pacific Northwest border states is the 10-mile long Hells Canyon National Recreation Area.

Hells Canyon is the deepest river gorge in North America, deeper even than the Grand Canyon!

It has become a favorite getaway for fishing and anglers as well as kayakers, jet boatters, campers, and all manner of outdoorsmen.


20. Death Valley National Park

Location: Death Valley National Park, California

A girl walking through Mosaic Canyon in Death Valley National Park, California
Mosaic Canyon in Death Valley National Park.

Death Valley National Park might not be the first place that springs to mind when thinking of the best canyons in the US. However, it is home to many different canyons. These canyons, including, Golden Canyon, Mosaic Canyon, Sidewinder Canyon, Natural Bridge Canyon, and Fall Canyon, provide some of the best hikes in the park.

Explore our Death Valley National Park Guides


Best Slot Canyons in the US

Transitioning from the grandiose landscapes and famous canyons of the National Park Service, this section features the smallest and lesser-known gems hiding in the nooks and crannies of the American Southwest.

Slot canyons are narrow channels that are forged by water, wind, and erosion, then polished by sand. The result is a colorful and intricately carved phenomenon that you have to see to believe.

Below you will discover the most beautiful slot canyons in the United States. If you like what you see and are interested in finding out more, you can find exact locations and plenty more slot canyons in these related guides:

1. Upper Antelope Canyon

Location: Page, Arizona

The Antelope Slot Canyons are internationally renowned for being the most beautiful canyons in the US.
The Antelope Slot Canyons are internationally renowned for being the most beautiful canyons in the US.

The Antelope Canyons of Arizona are the most famous and most beautiful slot canyons in the US. Even international travelers are beckoned by the windswept splendor of these incredible natural marvels.

Visiting the Antelope Slot Canyons requires a guided tour with one of the local Navajo tour operators (as do most of the other slot canyons in Page.) While they are all good, we recommend booking with Adventurous Antelope Canyon Photo Tours and considering the extended photo tours to see some of the secret slot canyons in the area.

Be sure to load our guide to Page if you are interested in planning a trip. There is more than you realize in this desert gem!


2. Lower Antelope Canyon

Location: Page, Arizona

Warm tones decorate the carved walls of Lower Antelope Slot Canyon. The Antelope Slot Canyons are considered the most beautiful canyons in the US.
Warm tones decorate the carved walls of Lower Antelope Slot Canyon.

Each of the Antelope Canyons has its pros and cons if you are planning on only visiting one, but both are world-class.

The Upper Canyon tends to be the more popular, for better and for worse. This means that tours of the Lower Antelope Canyon will have smaller groups.


3. Little Wild Horse Canyon

Location: Utah

Light and shadows create a complex color palette at the Little Wild Horse Slot Canyon.
Light and shadows create a complex color palette at the Little Wild Horse Slot Canyon.

Little Wild Horse Slot Canyon is located just outside of Goblin Valley State Park in Utah. Due to its ease of access and reputation for being safe and friendly family, this is among the most visited slot canyons in the state.

Utah is home to more slot canyons than any other place in the world. If you are interested in exploring them, we have created the most extensive guide on the internet featuring locations and information for the Top 50 Utah Slot Canyons.


4. Wire Pass & Buckskin Gulch

Location: Utah / Arizona border.

Seeing stone faces in the Wire Pass Slot Canyon.
Stone faces in the Wire Pass Slot Canyon

The Wire Pass Slot Canyon in Buckskin Gulch is the longest slot canyon in the world, spanning about 12 miles in length. While it is possible to explore it in its entirety, most visitors just do a mile or two before turning back.

The Wire Pass trailhead is also the trailhead for The Wave in Paria Canyon mentioned in the first section of this guide (though permits are required for that hike.)


5. Kanarra Creek Canyon

Location: Zion NP, Utah

Kanarra Falls is a picturesque cascade flowing through the Kanarra Creek Canyon and is one of the prettiest canyons in the US.
Kanarra Falls is a picturesque cascade flowing through the Kanarra Creek Canyon.

Anytime you can combine waterfalls and slot canyons, you are going to have something special. Kanarra Creek has carved out its own small canyon in this remote section of Zion National Park.

The major attraction is, unsurprisingly, the Kanarra Falls. Permits are unfortunately required to hike here at this point and while the photos are stunning, you may be disappointed by its humble size in reality. Still, it makes for one of the most beautiful canyon photos you’ll find.


6. Zebra Slot Canyon

Location: Hole-in-the-Rock Road, Utah

Zebra Slot Canyon is hidden gem in Utah and one of the best canyons in the US.
Zebra Slot Canyon is hidden gem in Utah and one of the best canyons in the US.

Of all the slot canyons in Utah, Zebra Canyon is the most beautiful. The incredible lines and colors and natural symmetry are something to behold.

While they may not have the color range or expanse of the Antelope Slot Canyons in Arizona, they are certainly in the discussion for the best canyons in the US in the slot category!


7. Rattlesnake Slot Canyon

Location: Page, Arizona

A windswept arch in Rattlesnake Slot Canyon.
A windswept arch in Rattlesnake Slot Canyon.

If you are already planning a visit to Page to see the many beautiful slots, you may want to consider booking a tour of the Upper Antelope Slot Canyon with Adventurous Antelope Canyon Photo Tours so that you can also see the incredible Rattlesnake Canyon. Their extended tour features a stop at this small but beautiful secret slot canyon which you cannot visit without a Navajo guide.

Many consider this the best non-Antelope slot canyon that can be found in the Page region, but you will see further in this section that it has some competition for that title.


8. Spooky Gulch Slot Canyon

Location: Hole in the Rock Road, Utah

Peek-a-Boo Slot Canyon in Southern Utah are some of the best slot canyons in the US.

Peek-a-Boo Slot Canyon in Southern Utah.

The first thing to note is that there are two slot canyons in Utah named “Peek-a-Boo”. This one is often referred to as “Peekaboo Gulch” and is located on Hole in the Rock Road, while the other is much further west, located between Carmel Junction and Kanab.

What both Peek-a-Boos have in common is that they are both impressive slot canyons that beckon plenty of explorers to experience their unique beauty and otherworldly landscapes.

Discover more incredible slot canyons and natural features:
25 BEST THINGS TO DO IN KANAB, UTAH


9. Red Hollow Slot Canyon

Location: Orderville, Utah

A hidden gem in Utah, Red Hollow Slot Canyon is one of the prettiest canyons in the United States.
A hidden gem in Utah, Red Hollow Slot Canyon is one of the prettiest canyons in the United States.

This quaint and local secret is located just outside the small town of Orderville in Southern Utah. It is located along the drive between Bryce Canyon NP and Zion NP, but missed by most.

It can be a bit difficult to find but the trail is short, easy to follow, and family friendly. Most importantly, the canyon itself is incredible!


10. Peek-A-Boo Slot Canyon

Location: Kanab, Utah

The "other" Peek-A-Boo Slot Canyon near Kanab, Utah.
The “other” Peek-A-Boo Slot Canyon near Kanab, Utah.

To make things simpler, we referred to the first Peek-A-Boo canyon by one of its many other names (Spooky Gulch.) This Peek-A-Boo is also known as Red Canyon and is one of the Top 10 visited slot canyons in Utah and one of the best things to do in Kanab.

The hike is incredibly short if you have access to an ATV, or a very long and hot walk through the desert without. If you wish to visit, you will want to do so with one of the local tour operators.


11. Owl Slot Canyon

Location: Page, Arizona

Orange sand spills down like a waterfall at Owl Canyon.
Orange sand spills down like a waterfall at Owl Canyon.

Owl Canyon is another one of many secret slot canyons near the Arizona city of Page. It derives its name from a family of horned owls that live in the canyon.

This particular sandstone cave is spectacular for its vibrant colors and delicate striping. In these regards, Owl Canyon will rival any of the more famous canyons nearby for the beauty crown.


12. Willis Creek Slot Canyon

Location: Southern Utah

Willis Creek Slot Canyon is a hidden gem just outside of Kodachrome Basin in Utah and one of the best slot canyons in the US.
Willis Creek Slot Canyon is a hidden gem just outside of Kodachrome Basin in Utah.

Most of the slot canyons you will find in Utah are out in the flatlands and desert, but Willis Creek Canyon is up a mountain road in the least likely place.

If you happen to visit at the right time of year, the creek will flow through the canyon and provide an amazing reflection of color and detail (as well as soggy feet.)


13. Secret Antelope Slot Canyon

Location: Page, Arizona

Secret Antelope Slot Canyon near Page

Upper and Lower Antelope Canyons are the most famous slot canyons in the US, but a vast collection of sandstone caverns exist nearby. One of the least explored is the Secret Antelope Slot Canyon.

All of these slot canyons are within Navajo Nation territory, which means you need a guide to explore them.  Only one company offers tours of Secret Antelope Slot Canyon which you can learn more about and book below:


14. Petroglyph Slot Canyon

Location: Snow Canyon State Park, Utah

A photo depicting the petroglyphs of Petroglyph Slot Canyon in Snow Canyon State Park.
Look carefully for the petroglyphs in this photo on the right.

Hidden in a remote section of Snow Canyon State Park is the Petroglyph Slot Canyon. Walking through this small but impressive canyon feels like strolling down an ancient hallway with stories carved into the wall at every step.


15. Jenny’s Canyon

Location: Snow Canyon State Park, Utah

A hiker staring up amidst the sheer cliff walls of Jenny's Canyon in Utah.

Another small but beautiful slot canyon in the US, Jenny’s Canyon is a short hike found in Snow Canyon State Park outside of St. George. It is the shortest section of slot canyon in this Top 15 list, but the colors, depth, and ease of access make it well-worth the trip.

Explorers in the St. George area typically miss the many local treasures with their eyes set on Zion, but here is a lot to do in the area. If you plan on visiting, you will want to peruse and bookmark our ultimate guide to St George, Utah: The Best Things to See & Do Nearby.


Best State Park & Small Canyons in the US

We’ve gone through biggest & steepest canyons in the US, followed by the smallest & narrowest. This final section is the Top 15 canyons that are not large or famous enough to be considered a national park, but are too large to be considered a slot canyon.

1. Waimea Canyon

Location: Kauai, Hawaii

Waimea Canyon on the island of Kauai showcasing why Hawaii is "the Rainbow State."
In “The Rainbow State” of Hawaii, even the canyons boast its colors.

Waimea Canyon is an incredible, colorful canyon on the island of Kauai. It is often referred to as “The Grand Canyon of the Pacific,” spanning 14 miles in length at 1 mile wide and more than 3,600 feet deep.

Explore our Kauai Guides:


2. Reflection Canyon

Location: Glen Canyon National Rec Area, Arizona

Reflection Canyon photographed just before sunrise.
Reflection Canyon seen just before sunrise.

Only the most adventurous hikers and explorers will have the privilege of experiencing a sunrise in Reflection Canyon. This remote treasure is located deep within the Glen Canyon and requires a 15-20 mile roundtrip hike to reach.

Still, dedicated photographers and hiking enthusiasts make the hike every day to witness one of the most beautiful canyons in the US at Reflection Canyon.

Explore our Glen Canyon Guides


3. Snow Canyon State Park

Location: St. George, Utah

Sunset at the Petrified Sand Dunes in Snow Canyon State Park.
Sunset at the Petrified Sand Dunes in Snow Canyon State Park.

Most visitors of St. George in Utah pass through this incredible region on their way to Zion National Park without ever realizing the incredible landscapes surrounding them.

Snow Canyon State Park is an otherworldly canyon filled with geological marvels and volcanic wonders. Of these, the petrified sand dunes are the most impressive.

Explore our Snow Canyon & St George Guides


4. Smith Rock State Park

Location: Terrabonne, Central Oregon

The canyon at Smith Rock State Park with an incredible sunset sky.
The canyon at Smith Rock State Park was carved by Crooked River.

Smith Rock State Park is the second of the official 7 Wonders of Oregon to make this list (the Columbia River Gorge being the first).

The 7 Wonders of Oregon were declared as being the most beautiful natural places to visit in Oregon. Seeing this view as the fiery colors of sunset fill the sky and foreground, it is easy to see why Smith Rock made the list.

The view above is achieved by climbing the grueling Misery Ridge Trail, widely considered the best hike in Smith Rock State Park.

Explore our Related Oregon Guides:


5. Dead Horse Point State Park

Location: Utah

Dead Horse State Park is one of many incredible canyons within the Colorado Plateau.
Dead Horse Point State Park is one of many incredible canyons within the Colorado Plateau.

Just outside of Canyonlands National Park, you’ll find one of the premier sunrise destinations in the state of Utah at Dead Horse Point State Park.

Layers of variable color and striations offer a real-time glimpse into how much our Earth has changed over the millenniums.


6. Palo Duro State Park

Location: Near Amarillo, Texas

Palo Duro State Park presents a juxtaposition of vibrant greens and oranges against a blue Texas sky.

Palo Duro State Park presents a juxtaposition of vibrant greens and oranges against a blue Texas sky.

The canyon at Palo Duro State Park is the most scenic thing to see near Amarillo, and pretty much the only stop worth mentioning for nature lovers.

A bright orange landscape amidst the stark Texas desert makes this one of the most unique canyons you will find in the US.


7. Carmel Canyon – Goblin Valley

Location: Goblin Valley State Park, Utah

Carmel canyon is one of the most beautiful canyons in America, seen here at sunset in Goblin Valley State Park.
A stunning sunset with Goblin Valley State Park in the Carmel Canyon.

One of those bucket list destinations for every landscape photographer is the incredible Goblin Valley State Park in Utah.

The Goblin Valley is located within Carmel Canyon, which also gives life to the Little Wild Horse slot canyon previously mentioned. Between these two incredible features, Carmel Canyon earns a reputation as one of the most beautiful canyons in the US.


8. Letchworth State ParK

Location: New York

Letchworth State Park is home to the "Grand Canyon of the East".
Letchworth State Park is home to the “Grand Canyon of the East

Voted as the number one state park in the country in 2015 and best attraction in New York State in 2017, Letchworth State Park is one of the most picturesque areas in the eastern US!

Known as the “Grand Canyon of the East”, the Genesee River has forged a deep canyon, with a picturesque U-shaped bend and three impressive waterfalls tumbling through 600 foot cliffs. All of this is surrounded by lush forest and 66 miles of hiking trails.

It is particularly beautiful in the autumn as the fall foliage adds a vibrant pop of color to the scene.


9. Owyhee Canyon

Location: Southeast Oregon

Owyhee Canyon is a local secret in the remote Southeastern Oregon desert.
Owyhee Canyon is a local secret in the remote Southeastern Oregon desert.

Gaining more popularity in recent years, the Owyhee Canyonlands has been a local’s only destination in a remote part of Oregon. It is popular for rafting, kayaking, hiking, and most notably for getting off the grid.


10. Keystone Canyon

Location: Near Valdez, Alaska

Aerial view of the Richardson Highway, Keystone Canyon, and Lowe River near Valdez, Alaska during the winter.
Aerial view of the Richardson Highway, Keystone Canyon, and Lowe River near Valdez, Alaska during the winter.

Keystone Canyon is an impressive, narrow canyon, with 600 foot sheer walls. The canyon floor has just enough space for the Richardson Highway to run alongside the Lowe River.

Through the canyon you will find many spectacular waterfalls and incredible geology. It is a particularly popular place for ice climbing in the summer.


11. Tallulah Gorge State Park

Location: Georgia

Tallulah Falls, Georgia, USA overlooking Tallulah Gorge in the autumn.
Tallulah Falls, Georgia overlooking Tallulah Gorge in the autumn.

Tallulah Canyon State Park is home to one of the most spectacular canyons in the eastern USA. The Tallulah Gorge is two miles long and almost 1000 feet deep. In addition to a number of overlooks, it is also possible to hike to the gorge floor, though a permit is required.

However, perhaps the best views are from the suspension bridge that hangs 80 feet above the canyon floor. From here you’re treated to wonderful views of the river and waterfalls. It is particularly impressive in the autumn when the forest surrounding the gorge becomes a beautiful blanket of warm hues.


12. Red Rock Canyon State Park

Location: California

Early morning light graces the cliffs of Red Rock Canyon State Park in California.
Early morning light graces the cliffs of Red Rock Canyon State Park in California.

Red Rock Canyon State Park is a small park where hikers can enjoy leisurely strolls across a variety of trails when temperatures permit. It is one of the few places where the monstrously beautiful joshua trees are found.


13. Nine Mile Canyon

Location: Utah

Pictographs tell the stories of another time.
Pictographs tell the stories of another time.

The Nine Mile Canyon preserves one of the best collections of ancient pictographs we have available. They have been painted onto the Book Cliffs throughout the canyon, providing insight into the lives of some of our oldest ancestors.


14. Bell Canyon

Location: Utah

Bell Canyon is another beautiful canyon in the American Southwest.
Bell Canyon is another beautiful canyon in the American Southwest.

Connected to Little Wild Horse canyon as an often-traveled loop trail is the Bell Canyon. Like Goblin Valley and Little Wild Horse, Bell Canyon is also part of the Carmel Canyon.

While it is does not hold quite the grandeur of the other two places, it is a lovely place for a stroll when the Utah weather is right.


15. Royal Gorge

Location: Colorado

The Royal Gorge Bridge in Colorado
The Royal Gorge Bridge by Matt Inden/Miles
Photo Courtesy: Colorado Tourism Office

The Royal Gorge canyon is a beautiful, 10-mile canyon that has become something of a tourist trap. Rather than being an outdoor mecca as most of those included in this guide, it is a place for families to go and ride the train, go skydiving, or book a rafting trip.

Development and consumerism withstanding, it remains one of the most beautiful canyons in the US.


US Canyons FAQs

What are the largest canyons in the US?

The Grand Canyon is the largest canyon in the US and in the world at 1902 miles.
Hells Canyon is the deepest canyon in the US at over 8000 feet.
The Black Canyon of the Gunnison is the sheerest canyon in the US.

What are the most beautiful canyons in the US?

The Grand Canyon is the largest and most visited, but the Antelope Canyons are undoubtedly the most beautiful. The 50 most beautiful canyons in the US are:

National Park Canyons

  1. Grand Canyon NP
  2. Black Canyon NP
  3. Bryce Canyon NP
  4. Columbia River Gorge
  5. The Zion Narrows
  6. Canyonlands NP
  7. Grand Canyon of Yellowstone
  8. Horseshoe Bend, Glen Canyon
  9. The Subway in Zion NP
  10. Sulphur Creek Canyon

Nat Park Canyons Cont.

  1. Paria River Canyon
  2. Bighorn Canyon
  3. Santa Elena Canyon
  4. Colorado National Monument
  5. Kings Canyon NP
  6. Red Rock Canyon
  7. New River Gorge NP
  8. Pine Creek Gorge
  9. Hells Canyon
  10. Death Valley NP

Slot Canyons

  1. Upper Antelope Canyon
  2. Lower Antelope Canyon
  3. Little Wild Horse
  4. Wirepass Canyon
  5. Kanarra Creek Canyon
  6. Zebra Slot Canyon
  7. Rattlesnake Canyon
  8. Spooky Gulch Canyon

Slot Canyons Cont.

  1. Red Hollow Canyon
  2. Peek-a-Boo Canyon
  3. Owl Slot Canyon
  4. Willis Creek Canyon
  5. Secret Antelope Canyon
  6. Petroglyph Canyon
  7. Jenny’s Slot Canyon

State Canyons

  1. Waimea Canyon
  2. Reflection Canyon
  3. Snow Canyon State Park
  4. Smith Rock State Park
  5. Dead Horse Point State Park
  6. Palo Duro Canyon State Park
  7. Carmel Canyon
  8. Letchworth State Park

State Canyons cont.

  1. Owyhee Canyon
  2. Keystone Canyon
  3. Tallulah Gorge
  4. Red Rock Canyon State Park
  5. Nine Mile Canyon
  6. Bell Canyon
  7. Royal Gorge
What is the deepest canyon in the US?

Hells Canyon is the deepest canyon in the US at 8,043 feet (2,452 meters) deep. It was carved out by the Snake River and is located on the border of Oregon and Idaho.

Also of note, the Black Canyon of the Gunnison has the sheerest canyon walls.

Which is deeper: Grand Canyon or Black Canyon?

The Grand Canyon at about 6000 feet deep is more than twice as deep as the Black Canyon at roughly 2700 feet deep.

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6 thoughts on “50 Spectacular Canyons in the US You Need to See to Believe!”

  1. Thank you for this site and the beautiful places to visit. Just a note on the slot section. On #9 you have the location as Page AZ, but the description you have it being by Orderville UT. Also, the location on #10 is labeled as Page AZ, but the description is the canyon is by Kanab UT. Please re-label these two pictures, since they are not at Page.

    Reply
  2. Thank you so much for this resource. Gorgeous photographs!
    One small correction, though.
    In the second paragraph about Black Canyon of the Gunnison, please change the location from “remote Eastern Colorado” to “remote Western Colorado”.
    (That’s a beautiful shot of the Painted Wall.)

    Reply

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