The Grand Canyon is like nothing you’ve ever seen.
One’s first impression is of witnessing a different planet. The canyon is carved by the Colorado River in the state of Arizona. It is contained within and managed by Grand Canyon National Park, the Hualapai Tribal Nation, the Havasupai Tribe and the Navajo Nation. The Grand Canyon National Park is the United States’ 15th oldest national park and was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1979. Although first afforded Federal protection in 1893 as a Forest Reserve and later as a National Monument, it did not achieve National Park status until 1919, three years after the creation of the National Park Service.
Today Grand Canyon National Park receives close to five million visitors each year – a far cry from the annual visitation of just 44,173 which the park received in 1919.
The Grand Canyon is 277 miles long, up to 18 miles wide and attains a depth of over a mile. Nearly two billion years of Earth’s geological history have been exposed as the Colorado River and its tributaries cut channels through layer after layer of rock while the Colorado Plateau was uplifted.
Grand Canyon National Park is one of the world’s premier natural attractions, attracting visitors from all over the world. Overall, 83% are from within the United States; mostly from California, Arizona, Texas, Florida and New York representing the top domestic visitors. Seventeen percent of visitors are from outside the United States; the most prominently represented countries are the UK, Canada, Japan, Germany and The Netherlands.
The South Rim of the canyon is open all year round weather permitting.
The North Rim is normally open mid-May to mid-October. Casual sightseeing from the South Rim is the most popular with visiting tourists, averaging 7,000 feet above sea level. Also, rafting, hiking, running, and helicopter tours are the other most popular forms of visitor entertainment.
Weather in the Grand Canyon varies according to elevation. The forested rims are high enough to receive winter snowfall, but along the Colorado River in the Inner Gorge, temperatures are similar to those found in Tucson and other low elevation desert locations in Arizona.
The Grand Canyon area has some of the cleanest air in the United States. At times, however, the air quality can be considerably affected by events such as forest fires and dust storms in the Southwest.
Regardless of the length of your visit to the Grand Canyon, whether you stay right in the park or visit for a day, you will leave with a sense of wonder.