Celebrate these amazing landforms in November and learn more and share your favorites!
So, what’s the difference between a canyon, gorge and ravine? In general, canyons are the largest and deepest, followed by gorges, with ravines being the narrowest and shallowest. However, there is some overlap between these terms and they are often used interchangeably.
A canyon is a deep, narrow gorge with steep walls formed by the erosive action of a river over time. The Grand Canyon in Arizona is perhaps the most famous example in the United States, but there are many other impressive canyons around the world, including:
The Nahanni Canyon in Canada is one of the deepest and longest in North America. It measures 6.5 miles (10.5 kilometers) long and more than 2,000 feet (600 meters) deep in some places.
The Copper Canyon in Mexico is even larger than the Grand Canyon, measuring an impressive 40 miles (64 kilometers) wide and up to 6,000 feet (1,800 meters) deep.
The Colca Canyon in Peru is the deepest canyon in South America, measuring 12,500 feet (3,810 meters) from top to bottom.
Gorges are similar to canyons but tend to be narrower and have less steep sides. The English word “gorge” comes from the French word “gorge” meaning throat. Some of the most famous gorges in the world include:
The Siq Gorge in Jordan is a 1-mile-long (1.6 kilometer) slot canyon that was carved out by flash flooding over time.
The Gorges du Verdon in France is a massive gorge measuring 25 miles (40 kilometers) long and up to 1,300 feet (400 meters) deep.
The Marble Arch Caves Geopark in Northern Ireland features a series of dramatic gorges and ravines that were carved out by glaciers over thousands of years.
Ravines are typically much narrower than canyons or gorges and have very steep sides. They are often characterized by a V-shaped bottom which caused them to be carved out by fast-flowing water sources such as rivers or streams. Some of the most famous ravines around the world include:
The Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park in Colorado is one of the deepest and darkest ravines in North America, with walls that reach up to 2,700 feet (823 meters) high.
The Zhangjiajie National Forest Park in China is home to some of the tallest ravines on Earth, with sheer cliffs that tower more than 3,000 feet (915 meters) high.
The Royal Gorge in Colorado is one of the deepest ravines in the world, measuring more than 1 mile (1.6 kilometers) deep and 2,500 feet (760 meters) wide in places.
Which is your favorite? Plan a trip and visit these amazing landforms and share your favorites.