The Grand Canyon is the canyon of all canyons, and regulary ranked among the top natural wonders on the planet. Carved over millions of years by the relentless Colorado River, the Grand Canyon is enormous, with a length of 277 miles, width of 4 to 18 miles, and a depth of over half a mile. Home to one of the oldest and most popular national parks, it is one of the most visited tourism destinations in the United States. The Grand Canyon National Park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Ancient Pueblo tribes inhabited the area around the Grand Canyon at least as far back as the second millennium BC. There were still local peoples in the area when a Spanish exploration party under Garcia Lopez de Cardenas arrived in 1540. The canyon was forgotten again until much later in the colonial era. In the 1850s, American surveyors explored the canyon, and it became a major tourist attraction when rail service connected it to Flagstaff. Teddy Roosevelt visited in 1903, and it became a national park in 1919.
The Grand Canyon has seventeen million years (possibly many more) of geology carved into its great striped rock walls. Everything from dinosaur fossils to pre-Columbian archaeological treasures can be found here. Well worn trails connect the canyon rims to the Colorodo River a half mile below, where campgrounds and white water rapids can be found. The Grand Canyon Village on the South Rim is home to extensive visitor facilities, the Desert View Watchtower, the El Tovar hotel, Lookout Studio, the Hopi House and the Grand Canyon Depot.
The Grand Canyon is a well developed national park, with countless things to see. Most visitors stay at the South Rim, while those seeking greater solitude visit the North Rim, and the adventurous make the scenic trek to the bottom and the river. The canyon is rich in wildlife, and few sights are as engrossing as watching birds of prey riding the air currents at eye level. Web: www.nps.gov/grca (official website).
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