The Grand Canyon is the Deepest Gorge in the U.S.

The Grand Canyon is the deepest gorge in the U.S.

Don’t Believe That!

Five million people visit Arizona’s majestic Grand Canyon each year. As you gaze out at the incredible landscape, which continues as far as the eye can see, it is natural to assume that this is the deepest gorge in the United States, if not the entire world. In fact, it is neither.

The Grand Canyon is over 250 miles long and 18 miles wide at its widest point. This makes it the largest U.S. gorge, but not the deepest. With an average depth of about 4,000 feet and a maximum depth of 6,093 feet (a little over a mile), the Grand Canyon is easily eclipsed by Hells Canyon on the Idaho/Oregon border. Hells Canyon, which was carved by the Snake River, attains a depth of 7,993 feet (over one-and-a-half miles).

Both the Grand Canyon and Hells Canyon are mere surface scratches compared to the Kali Gandaki Gorge in the Himalayas. By some measures (difficult due to the surrounding mountainous terrain), it has a maximum depth of 18,278 feet.

If you include the oceans in your definition of “the world” then the deepest gorge by far is the Mariana Trench in the Pacific Ocean, which descends to 35,827 feet below the surrounding ocean floor.

Finally, if you extend your search to include the entire solar system, Valles Marineris on Mars is ten times deeper than the Grand Canyon and large enough to contain the entire continental United States!

Bonus Fact: The Grand Canyon is considered a gorge, not a valley, because a river runs through it.


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