While defining canyons as ‘largest’ or ‘deepest’ is always imprecise because you can measure length, total area, height in different locations, etc., and because not all canyons and gorges can be measured accurately because of inaccessibility, the following collection has a mix of the longest, deepest, and widest (in area) canyons and gorges from around the world.
Yarlung Zangbo Grand Canyon
The Yarlung Zangbo Grand Canyon in China has a length of approximately 150 miles and bends around Mount Namcha Barwa and through the eastern Himaylayan range. The Yarlung Trangpo River ( the ‘purifier’) is now commonly called ‘Zangbo’ since it runs through the gorge. The water from the gorge eventually passes through India, becoming the Brahmaputra. The area has been declared the “Yarlung Tsangpo Grand Canyon National Reservation” by the government because of its unique ecosystem consisting of unique animal and plant species untouched by human intervention.
Kali Gandaki Gorge
If you measure the depth of a canyon by calculating the difference between the highest peaks of the gorge and the height of the river surface, the Kali Gandaki Gorge is the world’s deepest. The Gandaki river the flows through the gorge is older than the Himalayas and has (at its lowest point) an elevation of 1300 metres, creating a difference of 6800 metres (from the highest peak). The gorge is popular among trekkers in Nepal because of the easy access to the river.
Cotahuasi Canyon is considered to be one of the deepest in the Americas. At 3535 meters, it is 335 meters deeper than the Colca Canyon (though less deep than several canyons in the Himalayas). The canyon, in the Peruvian south, is characterized by its steep relief and noted for its isolated nature that has allowed the preservation of the local peoples’ traditional cultural customs.
The Grand Canyon
The Grand Canyon is a gorge carved by the Colorado River and is contained in the Grand Canyon National Park in Arizona, one of the first national parks in the United States. According to scientific research the canyon was created by the Colorado River over a period of six million years. The canyon is 277 miles long and has a maximum depth of 6000 feet, exposing almost two billion years of Earth’s history through its various layers of rock.
Barranca del Cobre
Barranca del Cobre, or Copper Canyon, is a group of 6 canyons located in the Sierra Tarahumara, in the southwestern part of Chihuahua, Mexico. The cumulative area of the ‘canyon system’ is larger and several portions of the system are deeper the Grand Canyon. To preserve the culture of the Raramuri people and showcase the beauty of this area, Mexico has established the Parque Nacional Barranca del Cobre, or Copper Canyon National Park.