Waimea Canyon is a large canyon, approximately ten miles (16km) long and up to 3,000 feet (900 m) deep, located on the western side of Kauai in the Hawaiian Islands of the United States. The canyon was formed by the collapse of an ancient volcano, and has been preserved as part of nearby Waimea Bay State Park. It is one of the largest natural canyons in the world. Its walls rise more than 600 feet above the ocean’s surface. The entire length of the canyon lies within the borders of the island of Kauai.
The name “waimea” means ‘reddish water’, a reference to the erosion of the red soil that forms the canyon walls. This type of soil results from volcanic activity on the island. During the formation of the volcano, lava flows were covered with a thick blanket of fine white sand. As time passed, this original sand became weathered into the reddish color seen today. The park contains several overlooks along its 11-mile (18km) length, including two major pullouts at Makaweli Overlook and Olokele Overlook, which offer 360 degree views of the canyon. Other notable features include the many arches and bridges created by nature, and the towering cliffs overlooking the Pacific Ocean. On December 2, 2011, the National Trust for Historic Preservation included the canyon as one of their “Save America’s Treasures” projects.