The 277-mile Grand Canyon runs through the heart of Arizona. It was set aside as a national park in 1919 and today is managed under the authority of the Organic Act which provides broad congressional direction to the National Park Service.
The Grand Canyon’s story began millions of years ago. At the end of the Ice Age, prehistoric people hunted mammoths and giant sloths in the area. Archaeologists have found hundreds of split-twig animal figurines left by those inhabitants.
Which part of the USA is the Grand Canyon?
The Grand Canyon is in northern Arizona in the United States. It’s a massive canyon formed by the Colorado River and its many tributaries between imposing cliff walls of ancient rock. The Grand Canyon is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and it’s the second most visited national park in the United States.
There are four major Grand Canyon locations that you need to familiarize yourself with before your trip, namely the South Rim, North Rim, West Rim (Marble Canyon), and the Havasupai Indian Reservation. Each one offers something different. The Grand Canyon is a UNESCO world heritage site and everyone must respect this place by following the Leave No Trace guidelines.
The canyon was carved by the Colorado River over millions of years. It’s a geologic feature created by tectonic uplift and it exposes rocks that date back to the earliest parts of Earth’s history. There are also several cliff dwellings in the canyon, some of which were occupied by prehistoric peoples.
What is the Grand Canyon?
The Grand Canyon is one of the Earth’s greatest geologic wonders. Located in Northern Arizona and bordering Utah, it is 277 miles long, a quarter mile wide at its narrowest point, and more than a mile deep in some places.
Over the millennia, a combination of deposition, uplift, cutting, and erosion has shaped this incredible landscape. A unique geologic feature of the canyon is the Great Unconformity, a set of rock layers where older rocks are overlain by younger ones. The youngest layer is sandstone, which often features fossils of marine creatures.
The canyon is also home to five major ecosystems and three of North America’s seven life zones. In addition, archeological evidence demonstrates that humans have been living in the Grand Canyon area for more than 13,000 years. Spear points found here date back to the Ice Age and include remnants from Basketmaker, Paleo-Indian, and Ancestral Puebloan tribes. Today, 11 Native American tribes have a historic connection to this spectacular national park.
Why is the Grand Canyon so beautiful?
Geologists like to use a diagram called a stratigraphic column to look at rock layers, and the Grand Canyon’s layered rock is especially remarkable. The oldest rocks appear at the bottom, and the youngest on top. In between, time passed, and sediment formed throughout millions of years.
The canyon exposes rock layers dating back 2 billion years. Some of these layers contain fossils, which help scientists to understand the past. For example, the Grand Canyon is home to Paleozoic-era trilobites—invertebrates that live in shallow marine environments. The canyon also contains trace fossils, such as burrows and tracks made by these invertebrates as they walked in muddy ocean sediment.
Over the last century, people have come to know and love the Grand Canyon as a natural wonder and national icon. Yet this iconic landscape wasn’t always so beautiful. When the Colorado River was dammed at Glen Canyon in 1963, natural floods stopped replenishing sandbars and beaches along the canyon banks, and invasive species crowded out native plants and animals.
What is the Grand Canyon like?
There are many canyons on Earth, but none rivals the Grand Canyon for its size or beauty. Stretching 277 miles, the canyon reveals one of the most complete records of geologic history on Earth. From the basement Vishnu schist to the capping Kaibab limestone, the exposed rock layers tell a story of 1.7 billion years.
The canyon was cut by the Colorado River some six million years ago. The river’s swift velocity and the large amounts of sand, gravel, and mud it carries down the canyon allow it to carve the steep-sided canyon.
In addition to its beauty, the Grand Canyon is home to several major ecosystems. It is also a vital water source for the region. Its arid climate creates a unique diversity of plant species, and five of the seven life zones can be found in the park. A portion of the Grand Canyon was designated a National Park in 1919, and it is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site.