The red of cactus blooms pops in a Grand Canyon valley. Cut by the Colorado River over millions of years, the Grand Canyon is considered one of the finest examples of arid-land erosion in the world. The immense canyon is 277 miles (446 kilometers) long and averages 4,000 feet (1,200 meters) deep, but it is only 15 miles (24 kilometers) across at its widest.
Sheer basalt towers rooted in flood-carved gorges mark the Simen Mountains in Ethiopia. This harsh landscape, sometimes called the African Alps, is the only home of the endangered gelada baboon. The monkeys find protection from jackals, hyenas, and leopards on the canyons' sheer cliffs.
Water rushes around rocks as the Colorado River continues to cut its way through the Grand Canyon. It takes two days by foot or mule to get to the bottom of the Grand Canyon and back, and at least two weeks to complete the journey through the canyon by raft. In 1963 the Glen Canyon Dam was completed upstream of the Grand Canyon, radically changing the flow of the Colorado.
With Mexico on the left and the United States on the right, the Rio Grande forges a clear barrier between the two countries. On the U.S. side the river winds through the Santa Elena Canyon in Texas' Big Bend National Park. Towering 1,500-foot (460-meter) cliffs of solid limestone mark the canyon.
A slot canyon scores the Arizona desert, just one of many dotting the state's border with Utah. Slot canyons are comparatively short and unusually narrow canyons that can be several hundred feet deep. A region needs a special combination of rainfall and geographical features to make slot canyons possible. Rainwater and snowmelt cut and rubbed the red rock of this region for eons to form these slots.
A waterfall cascades down the sheer face of the Grand Canyon in Arizona. In addition to the mighty Colorado River running through the canyon, water—a vital resource in the arid Southwest—exists in the form of springs, streams, and seeps.
Sunlight sneaks into the crevices of Arizona's Antelope Canyon, painting the undulations crafted by years of flash floods and other erosive processes. The slot canyon is one of the most visited canyons in the Southwest.
Rock formations jut from the floor of the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone National Park. Floods from melting glaciers helped carve this canyon, deepening it and removing most of its sand and gravel.
Carved rock stretches as far as the eye can see in Canyon de Chelly National Monument in Arizona. Canyon de Chelly is unique among U.S. national parks—it is composed entirely of Navajo Tribal Trust Land, which remains home to a Navajo community. According to Navajo beliefs, a deity named Spider Woman lived on top of Spider Rock, the sandstone monolith in the foreground of this picture. She devoured children who misbehaved, and their bleached bones turned the top of Spider Rock white.(NGC)
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