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You've heard of the Grand Canyon, but what about these natural wonders?
Posted on 10/12/2018 , Modified on 07/11/2019

NatureFrance

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The Grand Canyon has made quite a name for itself, but did you know it's neither the largest nor the deepest of its kind?

Everyone's heard of the Grand Canyon, but what about lesser unsung rocky gems? Here are some of the world's most underrated canyons, ravines and gorges that are waiting to be explored.

Takachiho Gorge, Japan

Takachiho Gorge, Japan
© paylessimages/123RF

Located in southern Japan east of Kumamoto, this narrow passage is lined on both sides by almost-symmetrical natural rock columns that look like they could be man-made. The Minainotaki waterfall plunging down from 56 feet high into the Gokase River is also a huge draw for tourists. The canyon can be experienced via a trail running along its rim, or by boat, which gives visitors an up-close of the incredible natural architecture.

Fjadrargljufur, Iceland

Fjadrargljufur, Iceland
© Olga Gavrilova/123RF

Due to its location close to a ring road, it's easy to miss. But at over 300 feet deep and one mile long, this modest green gem near Kirkjubæjarklaustur in southeast Iceland is sight you don't want to skip. The Fjaðrá river runs through this gorgeous sight, and it's the perfect place to enjoy the sounds of the bubbling water and Iceland's pristine natural beauty.

Canyon de Chelly, United States

Canyon de Chelly, United States
© luckyphotographer/123RF

People have been living in this canyon for almost 5,000 years, making it the longest continuously inhabited place on the Colorado Plateau. Now it's part of the Navajo Nation and is jointly managed by the Navajo government and the park administration. While it may not be as stunning as the region's other natural sights, the history and culture of this area help make it such a beautiful sight.

Gorge of Da'an River, Taichung, Taiwan

Gorge of Da'an River, Taichung, Taiwan
© Chan Richie/123RF

In 1999, an earthquake swept through this region, creating a large gorge now called the Da'an River Grand Canyon. It now has one of the fastest rates of erosion ever recorded, as the gorge is being washed away at the upstream side at 56 feet per year. Chances are that this gorge will be gone within 50 years.

Bryce Canyon, United States

Bryce Canyon, United States
© timstirling/123RF

These bizarre formations called hoodoos can be found in all corners of the Earth, but Bryce Canyon in Utah is home to the world's largest collection of these weird rocky shapes. Although not technically a canyon, this collection of natural amphitheatres has earned the title in name due to its dramatic dips and dives.

Shentang Gulf, China

Shentang Gulf, China
© efired/123RF

The Wulingyuan Scenic Area is a World Heritage Site home to 32 canyons, all of which are over one mile long. Shentang is one of the most impressive of them all, making visitors feel as if they're staring down into a bottomless pit.

Motlatse Canyon, South Africa

Motlatse Canyon, South Africa
© Sara Winter/123RF

Previously known as the Blyde River Canyon, this is one of the largest canyons on Earth at 16 miles long and an average 2,182 feet deep. It's incredibly green thanks to the subtropical climate, and can be found in the Motlatse Canyon Provincial Nature Reserve.

Kings Canyon, Australia

Kings Canyon, Australia
© Outcast85/123RF

A three hour drive from Uluru, Australia's infamous red rock, this is the perfect place to watch the sunrise of Watarrka National Park. This area has also been home to to the Luritja people for more than 20,000 years.

Verdon Gorge, Provence, France

Verdon Gorge, Provence, France
© Richard Semik/123RF

The brilliant turquoise hue of the river running through the Verdon Gorge is actually due to small pieces of rock that have been broken down into a fine powder. There's a road around the gorge that can be driven, but it's also ideal for hiking and kayaking.

Piva Canyon, Montenegro

Piva Canyon, Montenegro
© Leonid Tit/123RF

This canyon in western Montenegro is the bes tway to experience the small country's mountain scenery and forests. It also makes for an incredible drive along hairpin turns and mountain passes.

The Valley of Castles, Kazakhstan

The Valley of Castles, Kazakhstan
© mariusz prusaczyk/123rf

There are actually five canyons included in the region with the Valley of Castles being the most famous. The red striated stone, snow-capped mountains in the background, and interesting flora and fauna make it an amazing place for camping and hiking.

Antelope Canyon, United States

Antelope Canyon, United States
© kavram/123RF

This canyon is located on the Navajo Nation, and is operated by the Navajo administration. Due to the dangers of flash flooding, it can only be visited with a guide. It doesn't take a lot of rain to cause major flooding here, so it's necessary to see it with a professional. It's an absolute paradise for photographers.

Glen Canyon, United States

Glen Canyon, United States
© somchaij/123RF

This is just one of many canyons carved by the Colorado River. Located in Utah, it also provides access to Lake Powell. The canyon is best seen by boat or houseboat, and camping is also available among the moon-like landscape beneath the towering rocks.

Santa Elena Canyon, United States

Santa Elena Canyon, United States
© William Silver/123RF

Located in Big Bend National Park in Texas, this is one of the preserve's most famous canyons. The mighty Rio Grande runs through it, and during the dry season it can be hiked. During the rainy season, it's best visited by boat. The sheer canyon walls tower over 1,500 feet, dwarfing the Rio Grande.

Turda Gorge, Romania

Turda Gorge, Romania
© IURII BURIAK/123rf

Formed from the erosion of limestone, this gorge is home to over 1,000 plant and animal species. The site has been inhabited by humans since Neolithic times, and is home to at least 60 small caves, most of them smaller than 400 feet.

Tiger Leaping Gorge, China

Tiger Leaping Gorge, China
© Lukasz Kurbiel/123RF

Located on the Jinsha River (a tributary of the Yangtze) in southwestern China, this gorge is over 12,000 feet deep, and home to the Naxi people. Tiger Leaping Gorge is actually not navigable, so the best way to see this world wonder is by hiking. Attempts have been made to alter the gorge by damming the Jinsha River, but most have been thankfully thwarted.

Todgha Gorges, Morocco

Todgha Gorges, Morocco
© Elena Odareeva/123RF

This series of limestone river canyons runs through the eastern part of the Atlas Mountains in Morocco. Created by the Todgha and Dades Rivers, these canyons can be mostly hiked during the dry season, but the Todgha River widens during the rainy season, making it almost impassable.

Weano Gorge, Australia

Weano Gorge, Australia
© philip1652/123RF

There's a swimming hole waiting at the end of this gorge in northwestern Australia. This is one of Australia's oldest natural wonders, and the hiking trails here are classified as difficult, including a lot of climbing and wading through shallow water. The end section close to Handrail Pool is considered very difficult, with a handrail being required to make your way to the pool. But the views here are rewarding if you can handle the climb.

Palouse River Canyon, United States

Palouse River Canyon, United States
© cnaene/123RF

Threaded by the Palouse River, a tributary of the Snake River, this canyon in Washington State was carved up by flooding during the last ice age. It's also home to the gorgeous Palouse Falls, and the landscape here ranges from dry, brown hills to lush farmland.

Loch Ard Gorge, Australia

Loch Ard Gorge, Australia
© PA©ter Gudella/123RF

A popular stop along Australia's Great Ocean Road, this spot is also home to the 12 Apostles, eight rocky columns shooting out of the sea that are slowly being eaten away by the water. In 2009, the archway connecting the two sides of the gorge collapsed, as things often do in this region, due to water erosion and harsh weather. The landscape here is constantly changing, so it's good to see it while it lasts.

Barranco de los Encantados, Canary Islands

Barranco de los Encantados, Canary Islands
© tamara1k/123RF

This sandy formation was caused by the sea retreating 135,000 years ago. It left a dry, arid landscape behind, and revealed these intricate sand formations. Located on Fuerteventura, it's not the easiest place to get to, but it's worth a visit.

Tolmin Gorge, Slovenia

Tolmin Gorge, Slovenia
© Alberto Loyo/123RF

This area makes for beautiful hiking through Slovenia's Triglav National Park. Carved by streams called the Tolminka and Zadlascica, these beautiful mossy cliffs and rock formations make this part of the park one of its most popular areas.

Fish River Canyon, Namibia

Fish River Canyon, Namibia
© hecke/123RF

This is the largest canyon in Africa and the second most-visited tourist attraction in Namibia. It's was made by the Fish River, which cuts through the dramatic, desert-like plateau. The river doesn't have a constant flow, only becoming flooded at the end of the summer, making it easy to walk through. The thermal waters of Ai Ais are waiting for you once you've explored the canyon.

Vikos Gorge, Greece

Vikos Gorge, Greece
© igabriela/123RF

This is one of the deepest gorges in the world when compared to its width. Located in northern Greece on the southern side of Mount Tymfi, it's home to many native herbs that were once used by local healers. The healers used these endemic plants in recipes that can be traced back to Hippocrates.

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