Millions of years earlier, the Sinai Peninsula resided beneath the surface of the Red Sea, and as the waters receded they carved out deep grooves in the surface of the land. The Colored Canyon provides visitors with the striking evidence of this long-ago activity, and it also illustrates the composition of the canyon walls, which are primarily sandstone and limestone in a wide variety of shades and colors
A visit to the canyon provides instant recognition of where it gets its name. The walls of the canyon, which reach up to sixteen stories, are easily the most colorful and intriguing rock formations in all of Sinai. They were created by the erosion of water upon sandstone and limestone. In some places the deep coloration of rocks gives the canyon walls a prismatic and metallic sheen; in others, the stone is so smooth that it appears soft and pillows. The canyon mouth is accessible by car, and its short length of about 700 meters, makes it perfect for hiking. As one ventures into the canyon, the walls narrow in width to just a few feet in some places, giving the channel a close and secretive atmosphere. Modern hikers and backpackers have been trekking through the Sinai desert and mountains for decades, following the same routes used by ancient tradesmen, pilgrims and locals. The canyon is a commonly photographed location, with its contrasting textures of rugged and softly formed stones, and numerous depths of color and sheen. Some areas of the canyon reach over sixteen stories in height, providing dramatic effects in light and shadow, and giving the entire location a mysterious and ancient atmosphere.