About 60 km (37 miles) north of San Salvador de Jujuy, the inimitable Ruta 9 runs into the Quebrada de Humahuaca—a craggy, riotously colorful gorge that ranks among Argentina's most distinctive landscapes. Running alongside the Río Grande, variegated tones of pink, red, and gray brighten canyon walls like giant swaths of paint.
As the gorge deepens and narrows approaching Humahuaca on its northern tip, the colors become more vibrant. Brilliant-green alamo and willow trees surround villages, contrasting with the deep red hues in the background. In summer and fall, torrential rains mixed with mud and melting snow from the mountains rush down, carving deep ravines before pouring into the chalky gray river.