One of the most fascinating canyons in the world can be found in the Hawaiian Islands.
In this post, you’ll discover the ultimate list of interesting Waimea Canyon facts, a wonder of nature also known as the “Grand Canyon of the Pacific” (and you’ll soon discover why).
1. The canyon is located on the island of Kauai
Waimea Canyon is one of the most fascinating canyons in the world and is situated in the western part of Kauaʻi, one of the Hawaiian Islands. This island, nicknamed “The Garden Isle,” has a total area of 562.3 square miles (1,456.4 square kilometers) and is the second-oldest of the Hawaiian main islands.
The canyon’s name “Waimea” literally translates to “Reddish Water” and is a reference to its most prominent feature, the erosion of the red soil.
2. It was formed by one of the longest rivers in Hawaii
The most important element that formed the canyon is the Waimea River. This river originates in the central point and second-highest point of the Kauai Island, Mount Waialeale.
One of the most remarkable facts about this mountain is that its peak is considered to be one of the wettest places on the planet with an average yearly rainfall of 373 inches (9,500 millimeters) and a yearly record of even 683 inches (17,300 millimeters) in 1982.
This immense amount of water allowed the river to flow through the magnificent Kauai landscape and carve the canyon out of it for millions of years.
Even though it’s only 12.1 miles (19.5 kilometers) long, this important river is the second-longest on the Hawaiian Islands.
3. There was another major incident that shaped the canyon
The river alone isn’t the only thing that shaped this enormous canyon into what it is today. The origin of it can be traced back to an incident that happened about 4 million years ago, 1 million years after the island itself was formed.
This incident was the collapse of the enormous volcano that created the island straight from the ocean floor. This collapse pretty much split the island in half and allowed the depression to be filled with lava.
The Waimea River and rainwater running down the slopes of Mount Waialeale did the rest, and the next 4 million years, gradually cut through it.
4. The cliff walls were formed by flowing lava
The erosion process didn’t take place on both sides of the canyon as it only cuts through the landscape on the west side of it. This means that the huge cliffs on the east side of the canyon were built up from the lava that flowed through the depression which was created 4 million years ago.
The basalt of the cliffs was originally pitch black but has changed to a reddish color over time.
5. The Waimea Canyon is enormous
One of the most interesting Waimea Canyon facts is that it runs for about 10 miles (16 kilometers) and at some points has a total depth of approximately 3,000 feet (900 meters).
This means it gives proper honor to its nickname as the “Grand Canyon of the Pacific,” even though it’s located on a relatively small island with a population of just over 72,000!
6. It’s the major attraction of a State Park
The canyon is located in a U.S. State Park referred to as the “Waimea Canyon State Park” and is therefore administered by the State Parks Division of the Department of Land and Natural Resources.
This State Park covers a total area of 1,866 acres (7.5 square kilometers) and is by far the most popular tourist attraction on the island. Apart from the canyon, there are numerous adventure hiking trails as well.
7. It can be observed from a road that starts in a small town
The best way to get a complete view of the canyon is by following Hawaii state road 550, starting at the small town of Waimea in the western part of the island.
This town is significant in the history of Hawaii because the first Europeans to land on the island group, British explorer James Cook and his crew, did so right here in 1778. That’s also why the island itself is sometimes referred to as “Hawaii’s Original Visitor Destination.”
This town is located at Waimea Bay and the State Road is 18 miles (28 kilometers) long. It brings you all the way to Kōkeʻe State Park in the northwestern part of the island and features numerous lookout spots to discover this magnificent canyon!
8. There’s a trail leading up to another amazing feat of nature
One of the most amazing trails at the Waimea Canyon State Park is the one that brings you all the way to another miracle of nature, amazing waterfalls referred to as the Waipoo Falls.
Want to get an even better look at the canyon and these waterfalls? Then you can also visit them by helicopter as well starting at one of the multiple points on the island!