와이메아 캐니언 주립공원, Waimea Canyon State Park : 마크 트웨인이 “태평양의 그랜드 캐니언”이라고 칭송한 이곳은 수백만 년의 세월 동안 자연이 깎아 만든 협곡(峽谷)이다. 크기로는 그랜드 캐니언의 1/10정도의 협곡이나, 노출된 화산암 (volcanic rock)의 적색, 갈색 등의 무지개 색과 열대 식물의 푸른색, 녹색이 섞여 아름다운 조화를 이루고 있다. 아침에 보는 것이 좋다고 한다. 와이메아 타운에서 출발해 커브가 많고 경치가 뛰어난 550번 도로를 타고 올라간다.
So called “Grand Canyon of the Pacific," Waimea Canyon is a large canyon, approximately ten miles (16 km) long, one mile wide and up to 3,000 feet (900 m) deep, located on the western side of Kauai. The canyon was formed by a deep incision of the Waimea River arising from the extreme rainfall on the island's central peak, Mount Waialeale, among the wettest places on earth. It commands a spectacular array of rainbow colors created by the reds and browns of exposed volcanic rock, mingled with the blues and greens of lush tropical vegetation.
The canyon has a unique geologic history-it was formed not only by the steady process of erosion, but also by a catastrophic collapse of the volcano that created Kauai. Like the other Hawaiian islands, Kauai is the top of an enormous volcano rising from the ocean floor. With lava flows dated to about 5 million years ago, Kauai is the oldest of the large Hawaiian islands. Roughly 4 million years ago, while Kauai was still erupting almost continuously, a portion of the island collapsed. This collapse formed a depression, which then filled with lava flows. In the time since, rain-water from the slopes of Mount Waialeale have eroded Waimea Canyon along one edge of the collapse. The cliffs on the west side of the canyon are composed of thin lava flows that ran down the surface of the Kauai volcano. On the other side of the canyon, the cliff walls are built from thick lava flows that pooled in the depression. Over time, the exposed basalt has weathered from its original black to bright red.