Located in Arizona, US, the Grand Canyon is the one of the world’s deepest gorges, with cliff edges measuring up to a mile in depth. While it is not the deepest on the planet, the Grand Canyon is recognized mainly for its extreme beauty and the fact that all 227 miles of it is consistently awe-inspiring.
Before 1540 when Europeans immigrated to the Grand Canyon, this site was used as a habitat for Native Americans and later as a pilgrimage site for the Pueblo peoples. When Theodore Roosevelt became President of America he worked hard to preserve the area as he appreciated its great beauty, and also enjoyed hunting there. Today, the Grand Canyon lies within the Grand Canyon National Park, which in itself is considered a natural wonder of the world. This park is used to conserve the area that it comprises, allowing tourists to visit and explore it safely, without damaging any of the natural structures.
The Grand Canyon has also been declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO, which (along with the fact that it is a national park) has helped to protect it from various proposals, such as the damming of the Colorado River that runs within it.
While from the cliff tops the Grand Canyon may look like a dry and arid region, the same cannot be said for the land one mile below. In the deep valleys of this gorge there are rivers, rapids and even perfect conditions for white-water rafting; which many visitors to the area enjoy.
Some 40 million years ago, the Colorado River was formed. It grew gradually, being fed by various tributaries, to form a basin. After 23 million years this river grew to a point where it began to erode the land that it ran through, boring deep into the earth below.
Over the next 17 million years this erosion continued to the point where a gorge was formed, bringing with it such natural structures as caves and canyons. This time line brings us to the present day, where the grand canyon is one of the most spectacular natural structures on the planet, and one which continues to be formed all the time.
All those millions of years ago it was unlikely that the Grand Canyon would’ve been occupied by humans for a very long period of time. Indeed, ancient artifacts have been unearthed there, but these date back just 12, 000 years; not a very long time in Canyon’s long history. Humans evolved 200, 000 years ago so we know that they most definitely did live within the Canyons caves, but whether earlier species of the homo genus lived here too (e.g. homo erectus, Neanderthals or homo habilis) we cannot be entirely sure.
How to Get There:
The Grand Canyon has been preserved by the Grand Canyon national park that it exists within and as a result this has made it possible for tourists to come and visit the area safely, without causing any damage to it. It can be found in the state of Arizona, which has a number of sights to see in it besides the Canyon, so a trip here can span a fortnight, rather than just a couple of days to see the Grand Canyon.
To get there by air you can fly to any of the three airports that are nearby. The Grand Canyon actually has its own airport (The Grand Canyon Airport) although if you are staying in a hotel near Phoenix or are planning to see the rest of Arizona first then you can also fly to Phoenix Sky Harbor or Flagstaff Pulliam Airport. From here you can rent a car or take a bus to the Southern rim of the Grand Canyon. There are also a number of tour operators offering coach excursions in and around the Grand Canyon National Park, so even if you fly to the southern rim you won’t miss out on its northern side.
Where to Stay:
If you are a couple staying in the southern rim then you might enjoy Maswick Lodge which was renovated in 2006 and lies within walking distance of the Grand Canyon’s rim. Alternatively you could try the Holiday Inn Express for a budget stay suitable for individuals, couples and families. Perhaps the best hotel near the Canyon’s southern rim is the Red Feather Lodge.
At the northern rim you could try one of the many comping grounds there, or if you are a group of young people then try the Phantom Ranch (dormitories separated by gender). For a standard lodge or hotel stay then you should get in contact with the Grand Canyon Lodge, who offer a range of single, double and family rooms.