- June 18, 2021
- 13 min to read
8 Most Famous Canyons in USA
The United States is home to some incredible and widely photographed geological structures — of them, the canyon.
Simply put, when a river cuts through resistant rocks and forms a steep and deep valley in the shape of a v, it results in a canyon. These canyons offers abundant opportunities for inspiring and grand photography.
From oddly shaped spiked ‘hoodoo’ rocks in Utah, to waterfalls on the Hawaiian Island of Kauai, we’re excited to introduce you to some of the most beautiful canyons in America.
Check also: "10 Most Famous Canyons in the World" (Beside USA).
Antelope Canyon, Arizona
The magical Antelope Canyon, located in the American Southwest, is a slot canyon made up of two distinct sandstone-walled canyons. There’s Upper Antelope Canyon (about 660 feet) which is often referred to as “The Crack” and Lower Antelope Canyon (about 1,335 feet) — often called “The Corkscrew.” It rests on Navajo land east of Page, Arizona, and it accessible by guided tour only. It is popular for tourists and photographers alike — though photography within the canyons can prove to be difficult due to the way the light reflects off the canyon walls. Think you’re up for the photo challenge? Put this place on your bucket list, find your perfect tour guide, and get shooting. For all you serious photo-takers out there, opt for a fully-guided Photographic Tour into Upper Antelope Canyon which will help you to get the best image possible.
Santa Elena Canyon, Texas
This canyon is one of the most well-known features of Big Bend National Park in Texas. Hike, paddle down the river, or simply sit and take in the scenery with your camera. The best way, they say, to see the canyon is by raft or canoe. They’ll be prime opportunities for wildlife photography — though before you go, make sure to snag a guidebook and check out the conditions. The famous Rockslide, after all, is known as a rapid that proves to be a challenge for even seasoned wilderness professionals. Consider going with a GoPro or waterproof camera for this particular canyon adventure.
Waimea Canyon, Hawaii
At 10 miles long and 1 mile wide, Waimea Canyon — located on the Hawaiian Island of Kauai — is the largest canyon in the Pacific. Known as the “Grand Canyon is the Pacific” the majesty of this hike rests in the waterfalls and the rainbows. For breathtaking images, venture to one of two lookouts, the Puu ka Pele and Puu hinahina, which both have parking and provide stellar opportunities for snagging a beautiful shot. The lush blues and greens of your photos will become even more vivid once edited and enhanced (just make sure to pack the right hiking shoes).
Bryce Canyon, Utah
Bryce Canyon in Utah isn’t your typical canyon. It’s known for its high concentration of crimson-colored hoodoos — the pillars of spiked rock that make this canyon one of the most sought after canyons in the country to photograph. If you’re looking for an accessible place to grab your photos, go for shooting on the rim. If you take the park’s main road, this will lead past the Bryce Amphitheater and place you in the hoodoo filled fortress that lies below the Rim Trail hiking path.
The Wave, Arizona
Though you aren’t going to be finding any ocean waves in Arizona, you’ll certainly find a surreal experience at The Wave (that is, if you’re lucky enough to snag the golden hiking permit). Located near the state’s northern border with Utah, this red-hued formation finds itself on the slopes of the Coyote Buttes in the Paria Canyon-Vermilion Cliffs Wilderness of the Colorado Plateau. 20 permits per day are issued through a high-demand lottery system and we’ve heard it can be tough to land your hands on one. However, if you do, you’re promised a whimsical look into the wonders of Mother Nature. Use your camera to gather surreal images and enhance their colors by post-processing with Photolemur.
Nine Mile Canyon, Utah
This 40 mile canyon in Utah is named after the creek that runs through it. For photographers, it’s home to some of the most spectacular rock art, including the famous "Hunter Panel.” Most of the art was created by the Fremont Indians who lived in the area 1,000 years ago, which has inspired many to refer to the surroundings as an outdoor museum. You’ll find remnants of dwellings and art that has remained untouched due to the location’s dry climate and isolation. Take your camera and capture what some like to call, “America’s Largest Art Gallery.”
Zion Canyon, Utah
In Zion National Park, you’ll find Zion Canyon — one of the most popular destinations for photographers worldwide due to its sensational views and incredible hikes. The canyon can be reached through two major roads, though if you’ve never visited before, photographers are known to face challenges due to the unpredictability of lighting in the canyon. If you’re looking for a neat vantage point, try shooting Hop Valley at either sunrise or sunset. The Hop Valley Trailhead is easy to locate and is 3 miles-one way, offering enchanting wildlife to see and photograph along the way.
The Grand Canyon, Arizona
Known all over the world as one of the best hikes in the United States, the Grand Canyon is one of the 7 Natural Wonders of the World and can be explored and photographed in a myriad of ways. From helicopter tours to strolls along the glass bridge to white water rafting in the Colorado River, this famed canyon is a playground for photography of all sorts. It’s a steep-sided canyon that offers unique combinations of geological color and erosional forms, so you’ll want to make sure to capture your images in a way that pays homage to this specific elements. There’s a reason why it’s appeared in famous films like National Lampoon’s Vacation, Transformers (where the canyon is depicted as Mars), and Into the Wild, after all.
Related article: Most Famous Canyons around the World (Beside USA).
So, whether you’re capturing the grand nature of the Grand Canyon or snapping shots of an ancient art gallery, we hope you go forth and find a fantastic adventure filled with many opportunities for natural and photogenic shots.
Because there’s nothing in the world more beautiful than Mother Nature, right?
Have any favorite canyons in America or around the world that you love photographing? Feel free to share them with us in the comments below. We’re eager to hear where you find your tidbits of inspiration.