ECOSYSTEMS > INLAND OREGON > VALLEYS
If someone asked you to describe the difference between a canyon and a valley, could you do it? Both are depressions in the landscape, often formed by the movement of water such as rivers. Often the terms are used interchangeably, but most geologists will tell you the major difference between them is that canyons are deeper, more narrow and with steep sides.
Keeping this in mind, how does the Willamette Valley compare the Grand Canyon in Arizona?
Well, at 150 miles long (241 km) the valley is considerably shorter than the 227-mile (365 km) long Grand Canyon. However, it’s almost three times as wide — spanning 60 miles (96.5 km) at its widest point. The difference in width is a result of how the two formations were created. The Willamette Valley is a flat floor valley created by glacial activity, meaning it was scoured out by huge sheets of moving ice, making its bottom both broad and flat. The Grand Canyon, however, is a river valley which was carved out by the cutting action of the Colorado River. As a result, it has a more narrow, steep and winding configuration.
Now take a look at the slideshow show to the left for a visual comparison of valleys and canyons from around the United States.