Majestic, awe inspiring and scary are just some of the few adjectives that can aptly describe the mighty stretches of the Grand Canyon, the most celebrated tourist spot in the US state of Arizona. This mesmerizing vacation destination is world renowned for its breathtaking natural landscape.
Mountains, plateaus, gorges, deep ridges, cliffs and valleys impart an uneven topography to this wonder place whose scenic beauty is unparalleled to any other natural architecture in the world. According to geologists, the vastness of the Grand Canyon and its sheer size is the result of numerous geographical phenomena (soil erosion, tectonic plate movements, volcanic eruptions, river flow) that has been occurring for over a period of six million years.
Interesting Facts About the Grand Canyon
✦ Arizona's crowning glory, the Grand Canyon is known worldwide as an ecological wonder and has many features that will leave you spellbound. The visual appeal of this gigantic natural wonder evokes a sense of deep admiration for nature.
✦ The Grand Canyon is one of the largest canyons in the world.
✦ In 1979, the park was declared as a World Heritage Site. Benjamin Harrison, the 23rd President of the US, initiated the establishment of Grand Canyon National Park and declared it as a forest reserve in 1893.
✦ Later, on 11th January, 1908 owing to the efforts of the then US President Roosevelt, Grand Canyon was named as a national monument. After a lot of political debate, it was officially announced to be a 'United States National Park' on 26th February, 1919.
✦ It is the most visited tourist destination in the United States, with nearly 5 million tourists visiting this Canyon each year.
✦ It's one of the seven wonders of the world. Moreover, it's a natural wonder of the world.
✦ According to scientists, this magnificent beauty took about 3-6 billion years to form. It is even older than the dinosaurs, which is why dinosaur fossils cannot be found here.
✦ In 1540, Garcia Lopez de Cardenas, a Spanish explorer became the first European to visit this Canyon.
✦ Spreading over an area of around 1,218,376 acres (4,931 square km, approx.) of land, the Grand Canyon is 277 miles or 446 km long, and has a width of 18 miles or 29 km. The depth of gorges and valleys range between 5000 (1,524 meters) feet to 6000 feet (2,134 meters).
✦ The mountains and valleys have rocks of different colors which impart the unique Grand Canyon look. Gypsum, limestone and chert are found on an elevation of around 1000 ft, on top of mountains. There are huge towers, turrets, edges and crags spread all over the Grand Canyon.
✦ The 227 mile Colorado river that flows through the Grand Canyon provides visitors an opportunity for various outdoor activities like white water rafting and kayaking, hiking, and mountaineering.
✦ It is interesting to note that the Grand Canyon National park is bisected into two places - the North and South Rim by the mile deep (1.6 km) Colorado river. This North and South Rim vary in weather conditions.
✦ Being higher in elevation (8000 feet above sea level) the North Rim is more colder and even experiences snow anytime through the year. This is why it is open to visitors between May to October. Point imperial, in the North Rim is the highest point of the Grand Canyon, at a height of 8000 feet. There is no rail or air connectivity to the North Rim and it can only be reached by road.
✦ South Rim is the best place for sight seeing. It is opened all through the year and is very easy to reach. It is usually very busy in summers. Excellent transport facilities in the form of air and rail service make South Rim the most popular area to visit in the Grand Canyon.
✦ The Grand Canyon park roughly includes 75 species of mammals, 300 species of birds, 50 species of reptiles and 5 amphibians. Mule deer, desert bighorn, bobcats and coyotes are the commonly found animals here. The park is a home to rabbits, bats and squirrels. Endangered bird species like bald eagle and willow flycatcher are a part of the wildlife of this park.
✦ Only desert plants are found in the Grand Canyon, due to the absence of actual soil. The rare Brady Pin-cushion cactus, is found in the Grand Canyon and was discovered in 1958.
✦ A world-class hotel El Tovar was built in 1905, to provide visitors better facilities.
✦ Desert view watchtower was built in 1932, and is considered to be one of the masterpieces of Mary Colter, a famous American architect.
✦ Grand Canyon's Railway depot, Hopi House and Verkamp's Curios are other places that were constructed to attract people from all over the world.
✦ The Skywalk, a horseshoe-shaped glass walkway is famous as one of the highest man-made structures in the world. Although technically, it is not a building, it extends from the canyon walls 4000 feet above the Canyon floor. So if you tour the glass walkway, you will be walking above 4000 feet from the ground that will let you to witness some magnificent natural beauty!
✦ There have been approximately 685 deaths recorded so far in the Grand Canyon including accidental falling, hiking mishaps, suicides, airplane crashes, etc. There is even a book: "Over the Edge: Death in the Grand Canyon", by Thomas Myers and Michael Ghiglieri.
✦ One man (petrified of rattlesnakes) named Cochrane from California, died of heart failure, after being scared to death by a rattlesnake. One man even died faking a fall at the Canyon. While faking, his feet actually lost footing and he fell 400 feet.
✦ The central Phoenix in Arizona is just 4 - 5 hours from this place.
✦ The earliest inhabitants of this beautiful place included the American-Indians such as the Hopi tribes, Navajo tribes, Havasupai, Paiute and Hualapai tribes. European, Spanish and American explorers have explored this rocky terrain thousands of years ago.
The scenic beauty of the Grand Canyon can take you to a world of solace and timelessness. To say the least, these facts are just the tip of the iceberg, when it comes to describing this greatest wonder of Earth. Every moment spent in the topography of this mesmerizing place brings with it new sets of challenges and thrills. You will have to be at Grand Canyon to feel its grandeur! A trip to this place would surely be a 'once in a lifetime' experience for nature lovers!