America's Coolest: Canyons

America's Coolest: Canyons

The United States is a country well known for National Parks that feature beautiful canyons, the most famous of which is arguably the Grand Canyon. Yet with so many other beautiful canyons scattered throughout the country, there’s no reason that should be the only one you ever visit. Here are some other gorgeous canyons in the US that you won’t want to miss!

Antelope Canyon, Arizona: If the Grand Canyon is the most well known in the United States, Antelope might be the most photographed. Most people have seen at some point in their lives, the stunning images of orange, sand-sculpted walls and shafts of penetrating light illuminating the narrow space between the rock walls. Entrance to the canyon is by permit only from the Navajo Nation and available in the nearby town of Page .

Sedona, Arizona: The city itself gets a nod because it’s easier than listing all the canyons that surround it. There are two fantastic ways to take in the drastic scenery, by land via a Pink Jeep, and by air in a helicopter that takes off from SEZ. Visitors to the area can also hike the many trailheads, of which Brins Mesa is one of the more popular. The red rocks and bizarre formations that form the canyons around Sedona offer stunning scenery and adventure challenges year round.

Cathedral Wash, Arizona: Access to this gorgeous canyon via the Lees Ferry access road that curves around prominent formation, Cathedral Rock. You’ll traverse through narrow passageways of sandstone and limestone where arches, alcoves and views of Cathedral Rock will greet you until you reach the Colorado River.

Bryce Canyon, Utah: Well known for the bizarre formations that people have taken to calling “hoodoos,” this Canyon is otherworldly. It truly features geography unlike what you can find at the other national parks in the United States, in the likes of the Claron Formation. While visiting, keep an eye out for the second-fastest mammalian runner in the whole world, the Pronghorn. This animal can reach speeds of up to 60 mph!

Palo Duro Canyon, Texas: Second largest in size to the Grand Canyon, Palo Duro has more to offer than just its enormity. It’s believed that early Spanish settlers discovered the canyon and gave it the name for “hardwood” because of its abundant mesquite and juniper trees. You can also visit the still open and working JA Ranch, which at its peak supported more than 100,000 head of cattle.

Sequoia and Kings Canyons, California: The draw for these two valleys, which lie side-by-side in the southern Sierra Nevada, east of the San Joaquin Valley, is, of course, the giant Sequoia tree. However, trails like the Sawtooth will show you beauty that goes beyond the famous trees and is very distinctive to the Sierra Nevada area.

Death Valley, California: Located near the border of Nevada and California and within the Mojave Desert, this is the lowest and driest area in the United States. Dramatic, and at times very stark, landscapes make this a place that’s sought after by landscape photographers. Within the valley, at Furnace Creek, the hottest temperature ever on record was noted in 1913 – a whopping 134°!

Black Canyon, Colorado: The National Park Service uses this tagline for this park: “Deep, Steep and Narrow” and says “Big enough to be overwhelming, still intimate enough to feel the pulse of time, Black Canyon of the Gunnison exposes you to some of the steepest cliffs, oldest rock and craggiest spires in North America.” So, it’s definitely the perfect place for an adventure, but be careful! On the bright side, this canyon doesn’t have snakes or amphibians because nighttime temperatures in the park drop too low for them to survive, which is a win for any visitor who, like Indiana Jones, isn’t a fan of slithering creatures! You can explore to your heart’s content without fear of what’s hiding in the rocks.

Kirsten Alana is a professional photographer, writer, teacher and social media consultant. She has worked with brands like AOL, Expedia and Beck’s Beer; co-hosted #ExpChat, #TNI and #FriFotos on twitter; as well as been on-air talent for commercials and travel shows on networks like CNN and AMC. She enjoys teaching photography at conferences all over the globe but her true passion is simply inspiring people to see and know more of the world.

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