What Is a Gorge in Geography?

By Donna Eigen; Updated April 24, 2017
The Grand Canyon is one of the world's largest gorges.

A gorge is a deep channel formed by a river that has eroded the earth's crust over millions of years. Some gorges are so large they are visible from space. One of the most famous is the Grand Canyon.

Characteristics

Gorges have steep banks where the river has cut through the earth. The Grand Canyon, which was formed by the Colorado River, reaches 6,000 feet deep -- more than a mile -- and is 277 miles long and 15 miles at its widest point. Some gorges are dry and the rivers that once carved them long gone.

Famous Gorges

Gorges are found all over the world. The largest American gorges include the Grand Canyon, Gorges of Finger Lakes, Columbia River Gorge, New River Gorge and Canyon Lake Gorge. China's gorges include the Yangzi River’s Three Gorges, Yarlung Zangbo Grand Canyon and Kali Gandaki Gorge. The Victoria Falls Gorge and Olduvai Gorge are located in Africa; the Gorge du Verdun is in Europe.

Benefits

The tremendous power that produced the gorges is now harnessed on many of the rivers by hydroelectric dams to produce electricity. The rivers and gorges also offer whitewater rafting, hiking, wind sailing and other recreational opportunities.

About the Author

Donna Eigen has written, produced and managed communication programs for global, government, university and nonprofit organizations since 1980. Eigen has taught graduate business communication and is a certified facilitator in work force diversity, leadership, team building and effective presentations. She has a Master of Arts in communication and a Bachelor of Arts in sociology from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.