The Grand Canyon of Yellowstone is stunning. In my opinion, it’s beauty outshines the Grand Canyon found in Arizona. The raging, crystal blue river carves it’s way through the yellow and red canyon. And then, of course, there is the massive waterfall located at one end of the canyon, one of the most famous views of Yellowstone National Park.
The canyon is roughly 20 miles along, ranges 900 to 1,2000 feet in depth and is 1,500 to 4,000 feet in width. This massive geologic feature of Yellowstone is actually rather recent, in terms of Earth history, predicted to be no more than 14,000 years old. Similar to the Grand Canyon in Arizona, the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone was caused by erosion from the Yellowstone River, although it did have some help from faulting caused by the caldera eruption as well as lava flow.
Besides the raged ridges and size, another reason why we found the canyon so interesting is the color. Originally we thought the color was caused from sulfur but what we learned is that it’s from a process called hydrothermal alteration. This is the heating of rocks which causes a chemical alteration in the iron compounds. When the rocks are exposed to the elements they are in fact rusting.
One thing is for certain. If you’re traveling to Yellowstone, no matter how long your trip, make sure you make time to explore the Grand Canyon. Pictures and words just don’t do it justice.