Planning to visit the US state Arizona or planning anywhere near it, The Grandeur of The Grand Canyon is something that should unquestionably feature on top of your itinerary list. the Grand Canyon is one of nature’s wonderful phenomenons that whoever has visited are left spell bounded would want to be dragged back to experience it all over again.
The Grand Canyon is located in the northern region of the US state of Arizona. The canyon is 446 km long, 29 km wide and 6,093 feet deep. It contains one of the oldest rock formations that due to erosion over a period of millions of years led to the emergence of the Grand Canyon. The oldest rocks in the canyon are called the Vishnu Basement Rocks. They can be found near the bottom of the Inner Gorge. The Vishnu rocks formed about 1.7 billion years ago when the magma hardened.
The grand canyon history dates back to ten thousand years. During the last ice age, early humans populated the Grand Canyon. The imprints of which were left through stone spear carving. It is famously believed that hundreds of small split-twig figurines were created a thousand years ago as a form of documentation of the successful hunting practices by the hunters of that period. The small split-twig figurines consist of the bighorn sheep and deer. The early habitats of the canyon were found to be the Pueblo people. Later the Cinchona, Paiute, Cerbat, Zuni and Navajo were forcibly made to evacuate by the United States Government. It is believed that the Havasupai people occupied the canyon arena for approximately eight hundred years. The grand canyon has been built on the Havasupai ancestral land for the inception of the Grand Canyon as a reserve and later a national park in 1919. After major publications like the Wall Street Journal, the Los Angeles Times and the San Francisco Chronicle highlighted the injustice when the ancestral home of the Havasupai people was snatched away for the construction of the Grand Canyon.
The Havasupai recovered a major portion of their land in 1975. Today, the Hapastani people earn a majority of their income through the proceeds that come from the Grand Canyon tourism. In September 154o, Francisco Vasquez de Coronado who was a conquistador that led a team from Mexico. A quest was held to the United States in the discovery of the fabled Seven Cities of Gold.
The team included Spanish soldiers and Hopi guides to the Grand Canyon. They were the first Europeans to reach the Grand Canyon. John Newberry who was part of the team was the first geologist to study the Grand Canyon.
After two hundred years, two Spanish priests travelled to the Grand Canyon to witness its surreal beauty. They were the second set of non-native Americans to have seen it.
CREATION OF THE GRAND CANYON
How was the Grand Canyon formed? Well, definitely not in a day. There are a lot of floating stories about the formation of the Grand Canyon. But, the story that comes upfront and is firmly believed by various geologists is that the Colorado River, one of the principal rivers of the United States carved it five to six million years ago.
The formation commenced with the igneous and metamorphic rocks building in the inner gorge of the Grand Canyon. A layer of sedimentary rocks was built on top of them. The oldest rocks at the bottom and the younger rocks on top of them this process is known as the principle of superposition. In a period of million years through the action of plate tectonics, the entire region was uplifted. thus, resulting in the flat Colorado Plateau. Another six million led the Colorado River to carve its way into the rocks and cause erosion by the tributary streams led to the stretching of the canyon. Weather conditions during the period of ice age also increased the amount of water in the Colorado River. The ancestral Colorado River countered by casting its channel faster and deeper. This increased the rate of erosion and cut nearly all of the Grand Canyon’s current depth by 1.2 million years ago.
SKETCH OF THE GRAND CANYON
Grand Canyon Village
The most popular entry into the Grand Canyon National Park is through the Grand Canyon Village. Starting your journey from the Grand Canyon Visitor centre is the apt point. the visitor centre consists of three points. The Mather Point, Yaki Point and the Yavapai point.
The Village is most popular for being the point from where the best view of the canyon is visible. that point is known as the Yavapai point hence, it attracts millions of tourists from all over the world. The village comprises of stunning architecture with an age-old history behind it. Most of the buildings have been designed by Mary Colter, renowned architecture and one of the few female architects of her days. The village is largely appreciated for the access to various souvenirs through its gift shops and markets. The Hopi house that was made as a living museum for Hopi Indians to craft and sell their artworks. Today, it serves as the last souvenir store and art gallery. The Verkamp’s Visitor Centre, Kolb Studio and the Lookout Studio present here are also worth visiting. Stop at the Arizona Room, Bright Angel Restaurant and the Harvey House Cafe in and near the Grand Canyon Village for an appetizing and scrummy meal.
Grand Canyon National Park’s SOUTH RIM is located 60 miles north of Williams, Arizona and 80 miles northwest of Flagstaff. The Grand Canyon lies entirely within the state of Arizona. The South Rim is at an elevated height of 7000 feet. It is the most visited part of the park and is open all 365 days of the year. The South Rim consists of 11.3 km scenic stretch known as the Hermit road. It is located in the west of the Grand Canyon Village. It is non-accessible for private vehicles. Hence, you can either hike or board a shuttle bus service. During your travel, you will come across the Abyss with its and the Pima Point, where you can see a glimpse of the ancient Colorado River. Passing through the Desert View Drive at the canyon’s extreme point you will reach the Yak point but, from there no shuttle buses go further. Board a private vehicle to experience other high points throughout the journey. Other popular spots include the Tusayan Museum that has displays from the local Native American cultures.
Rising at a height of 1000 feet, the North Rim is 305 m higher than the South Rim. The North Rim is open only in the month of May to October every year. During the winter season, all roads are closed. Hikers and cross country skiers are able to enter the North Rim only after valid backcountry permits. Starting from the Desert View Tower to the North Rim is a 322 km ride. Due to its 1000 feet elevation, the North Rim is chilly even in summers. The North Rim s shut during winters due to the snowstorm season. Begin your hike or drive from the Visitor Center. The Grand Canyon Lodge is the only lodging services inside the North Rim. Tourists can opt for a small hike to the Bright Angel Point for an enthralling and spellbinding view.
Top Must visits of the Grand Canyon
- In 2019, the Grand Canyon was officially designated as an International Dark Sky Park by the International Dark-Sky Association. The Park Service converts thousands of lights across the park to a dark-sky compliant (minimization of glare while reducing light trespass and skyglow). Tourists not only get to be part of this extraordinary experience but it also benefits the wildlife too. A great photo opportunity with astronomy sessions with telescopes and photo workshops make it a must experience.
- The Toroweap Overlook is one of the rare points of the canyon that doesn’t witness many tourists. Since the roads are rocky and require a clearance for vehicles. But, if you manage to reach here you will surely not be disappointed with the only spot of the canyon that showcases the 3,000 feet vertical view of the Colorado River.
- The Shoshone Point turnout is the only least crowded trek of 3.5 km that comes under the easier hikes.
- The Pipe Creek Vista is a small 1-mile trek that overlooks the Brahma Temple and O’Neill Butte.
- Experience the Colorado River by opting for the Dory ride. The Dory ride is a convenient ride on the sharp waves and sharp cutting rocks of the river. The ride should surely not be missed as the Colorado River holds great cultural and geographical significance for the formation of the canyon and the tribe that has been residing here for eight hundred years.
- A popular path of the Native Americans, the Bright Angel Trail from the South Rim is the safest and best-maintained route into the canyon with easy access to amenities.
- The Lake Mead National Recreation is America’s first and largest national recreation area. It spreads to a vast area of 1.5 million acres that comprise of steeping mountains, crystal blue lakes, steep-walled canyons and wide valleys. Tourists boating in the waters of Lake Mead or Lake Mohave will be able to see the massive Hoover dams that are wide as two football fields.
- The Bearizona Wildlife Park is a drive-through Wildlife Park that stretches to approximately 160 acres. It is located at the gateway of the Grand Canyon where you will get to see mammals such as goats, bison, Arctic wolves, Alaskan tundra and black bears.
- The Havasu Canyon has been the home of the Havasupai Tribe for the past eight hundred years. The Havasupai tribe is the smallest Indian Nation in America with a population of only 600 people. The waterfalls of the canyon hold great significance for the tribe.
- The Grand Canyon lays down a plethora of helicopter ride options. The Helicopter tour takes you to the South or West Rim and above the North Rim. A dreamlike aerial tour of the magnificent Grand Canyon is a great option for tourists willing to cherish the enchanting splendour of the Canyon from a different aspect.
- The Grand Canyon was established in the year 1919.
- The rocks that made the Grand Canyon are older than dinosaurs. But the Canyons were formed after the Dinosaurs became extinct.
- The Grand Canyon National Park is bigger than the entire state of Rhode Island (3,140 km²).
- There are an estimated 1000 caves within the canyon, but only 335 have been recorded. Out 0f the 335 only one cave is open to the public.
- the Grand Canyon is not the world’s deepest canyon. The Yarlung Tsangpo Grand Canyon in Tibet is regarded as the deepest canyon in the world at 18,000 ft.
- The canyon survives the Mountain Lions, Rattlesnakes, scorpions, spiders, coyotes, mule deer, canyon bats, bighorn sheep, ringtail cats and lizards. But, the most dangerous animal in the canyon is the rock squirrel.
- It is believed that the Colorado River started carving out the canyon six million years ago, but recent studies have shown that this process may have started 70 million years ago.
- The canyon consists of fossils of ancient marine animals that are over 1.2 billion years old.
- The Grand Canyon consists of a small village called Supai with a mere population of just 208 people.
- There are approximately 2,163 kinds of fauna and 447 types of birds found in the Grand Canyon National Park.
- 2. The rocks that made the Grand Canyon are older than dinosaurs. But the Canyons were formed after the Dinosaurs became extinct.
- The Grand Canyon is one of the seven natural wonders of the world.
- Grand Canyon receives 6.2 million visitors annually.
- The North Rim of the Grand Canyon at an average height of 8,000 ft. and the South Rim is at a height of 1000 ft.
- The Grand Canyon holds great spiritual significance for the Hopi people. They consider it as a gateway to the afterlife.
- The climate of the Grand Canyon depends hugely on which part of the canyon you are. The South Rim has an elevation 7,000 feet above sea level. Hence, cool weather in winters and summers. The Inner Canyon has a distinctly different climate due to the lower elevation.
- The Grand Canyon is the 11th largest national park in the United States and the second most-visited national park.
- John Wesley Powell, the famous geologist and explorer was the first to call it the Grand canyon.
- The Grand Canyon is still going through alteration of shape due to the Colorado River flowing through it.