The Grand Canyon is a 227 miles long and located in Arizona, Nevada (wikipedia). It has been a natural attraction that has awed tourists for centuries now. Its sheer size is absolutely impressive, meanwhile, it boasts a beautiful view that you will certainly remember forever. Many tourists visit the Grand Canyon, as it is famous for its size and recognized for its natural park status, however, how much do we really know about it?
How was the Grand Canyon made? How old is it? Did dinosaurs once live here? Did humans ever inhabit it? What animal might I encounter on my visit? All these questions and so many more will be answered in this article! The Grand Canyon has an absolutely interesting history that includes its involvement in religion, legislation and politics! Read on to become a complete expert in everything Grand Canyon.
Bonus: If you’re visiting soon, these facts might help you understand how to dress for your adventure! Safe travels!
26 It’s Bigger Than Rhode Island
We all knew the canyon was big, but do we know how big it actually is? If you visit the Grand Canyon and look out into its depth and feel a little daunting, well you’re not wrong. The canyon truly is huge! It is approximately 1900 square miles, meanwhile, Rhode Island is only about 1200 miles squared (pinkadventuretours)! How crazy is that? If you ever visit Rhode Island or live there, it’s certain to feel a little smaller than it originally felt.
25 The Canyon Was Once A Holy Land
The Grand Canyon is obviously old, but how much do you know about its history? Over 3000 years ago, the canyon was inhabited by its very first civilization, which we now call the Pueblo Indians (wheninyourstate). The Pueblo Indians used the canyon as shelter and for storage, however, it is believed that this civilization deemed it a holy land. While today, we admire the canyon for its sublime beauty, we definitely do not attribute any religious values to it. It’s interesting to see how we value things changes throughout the generations.
24 The FFA Was Created Because of the Canyon
I’m certain most readers are wondering what on Earth is the link between the Federal Aviation Administration and the Grand Canyon. Well, it’s actually super interesting! In the ’50s, many pilots decided to go off route in order to explore the beautiful aerial view of this natural wonder (wheninyourstate). This resulted in several plane collisions that showed the United States' government that they needed some serious in-air regulations to avoid any further tragedies (wheninyourstate). The pilot's desire to go off-course and explore the canyon led to the creation of the Federal Aviation Administration. Thankfully, this now means that any flight you take today, be it over the canyon or elsewhere, is safe!
23 The Cleanest Air in the U.S. is Found at the Canyon
Unfortunately, increased pollution has made some air in certain countries very unhealthy to breathe. While some areas of the United States may be more urban and polluted, you can enjoy a real breath of fresh air when you explore the canyon. The air is so pure when you go to the canyon because it is a national park that is highly protected by the government (wheninyourstate). Pollution, littering and anything that could harm its environment is prohibited, meaning you’ll be breathing some seriously clean air when you visit!
22 It’s Temperatures Vary Greatly
Most images we see of the canyon make us imagine that the weather is nice and warm and totally enjoyable. Interestingly enough, the weather is completely inconsistent throughout the Grand Canyon. Due to its large size and varying degrees of depth, there are several different temperatures. The temperature can vary up to 25 degrees from it’s lowest to highest points (pinkadventuretours)! In the summer, its deep points are often extremely hot, yet in the winter, the northern rim tends to be freezing cold! Dress accordingly if you’re going to visit.
21 There Are Many Hidden Caves
The Grand Canyon is so huge there are certainly several discoveries that remain to be uncovered. When exploring the canyon, you’re certain to see some things that will rouse some curiosity. One of the most mysterious things that can be found in this natural wonder are thousands of hidden caves (pinkadventuretours). Only one of these caves can actually be explored, so that leaves lots to the imagination! One can only imagine what mysteries lie in these unexplored caves.... why they were initially created and by who?
20 The Canyon is Still Growing
The Grand Canyon is huge, right? Well, surprise, surprise! It’s actually continually growing! Scientists have concluded that the canyon was created due to erosion, mainly caused by the strength of the Colorado River (wheninyourstate). Considering that the Colorado River is continuously flowing to this day, it’s only natural that it continues to erode the canyon and expand it in size! It’s definitely not something you’ll see happen overnight, but it’s certainly growing, so keep an eye out!
19 It Is One of the Seven Wonders of the World
The Grand Canyon is considered to be one of the Seven Wonders of the World. The Seven Wonders of the Natural World include some of the most beautiful natural wonders one can find on earth today. These were decided by the organization Seven Natural Wonders, a non-profit that aims to protect the beauty of the Grand Canyon, as well as the six others on the list. This list includes other impressive sites, such as the Great Barrier Reef and Mount Everest (wikipedia). This project began in 2008 and includes a natural attraction for each continent. It’s no mystery why the Grand Canyon was selected in North America.
18 The Colorado River Created the Canyon
This natural attraction is obviously amazing to look at and explore, but how was it actually created? No, it wasn’t done by alien intervention or under mysterious circumstances, it’s simply a result of a natural process called erosion (routes.tips). Scientists estimate that this process began approximately 6 MILLION YEARS AGO (routes.tips). The strength of the Colorado River that flowed through the Grand Canyon ate away at the rock of the canyon and eventually carved out the beauty that remains today. This truly shows that patience is a virtue.
17 It Receives Over 5.9 Million Visitors Each Year
We all have a fairly good idea of how popular the Grand Canyon is, as it is one of the most known canyons in the world. However, the amount of tourists that come visit this natural wonder is totally insane! Wheninyourstate.com pins the specific number down to 5.9 million visitors. While places like Disney World or Times Square will obviously get over double this amount, it’s quite a lot for a natural park, don’t you think? Now, the question remains, will you be amongst the 5.9 million tourists next year?
16 A Man Once Kayaked the Canyon
This one is hard to believe, but it is an absolutely heartwarming and true story! According to adventuresportsnetwork, Lonnie Bedwell was a brave navy veteran who, unfortunately, lost his eyesight due to a hunting mishap. Team River Runner is a kayaking organization that helps wounded veterans just like Bedwell and were instrumental in helping him succeed. Bedwell began kayaking only two weeks before his big mission, but his 226-mile journey across the Colorado River was successful nonetheless thanks to the TRR’s coaching (adventuresportsnetwork). This story is certainly inspiring!
14 It’s Not Actually The World’s Deepest Canyon
Disappointed? According to pinkadventuretours, the Grand Canyon is, of course, amongst the world's most famous canyons and attracts endless amounts of tourists, but it’s not the deepest one. It’s definitely amongst the most beautiful canyons in the world, and also amongst the most well-known, however in terms of depth, it has been beaten by Cotahuasi Canyon in Peru and the Kali Gandaki Gorge in Nepal (pinkadventuretours). Perhaps you can add those to your bucket list if you enjoy visiting large canyons!
13 It’s Home to A Small Town
Who knew? When visiting the Grand Canyon, most of us see it from a tourist's perspective and don’t imagine that people actually live there! Well, the Grand Canyon is actually home to the most remote town in the United States (pinkadventuretours). This tiny village is called Supai Village and has a little over 200 inhabitants (pinkadventuretours). To picture how remote this village truly is, know that this is the last place in the United States where mules deliver mail (wikipedia)! This is definitely not an urban town.
12 Keep An Eye Out For Pink Snakes
When visiting a desert, it’s totally expected that you might encounter a snake or two while on your hike trail. Traditionally, these snakes are very neutral colours like brown, black or earthy greens, making them blend into their environment seamlessly. Well, when visiting the grand canyon you’ll be shocked to find out that it’s actually home to pink snakes! These strange species can range from 16 to 54 inches long and are scientifically referred to as, “Crotalus oreganus abyssus” (wikipedia). While snakes are certainly frightening, the fact that they are pink doesn't make them any more approachable.
11 It’s Age Is Unknown
Every person, pet and country has a birthday, a special day where we celebrate their life and independence, the Grand Canyon, however, does not have one. There has been great debate amongst scholars about the age of the Grand Canyon (NPR). It’s easy to assume that the Grand Canyon is fairly old, but geologists have argued that it is both old and young (NPR). There remains a lot of ambiguity about the age and its creation, meaning no one really knows how old it is!
10 It Creates Its Own Weather
We’d all like to have the ability to control the weather, especially during the colder winter months, right? Well interestingly enough, the Grand Canyon’s weather differs depending on where you are in it (nationalparks). Elevation, specifically sudden changes in elevation, alter the weather tremendously, meaning depending on how deep certain areas are, its weather differs as well. Fun fact, there is only an 8-mile difference between the coldest station and the hottest one (nationalparks)! It’s certainly not easy to know how to dress when headed here.
9 It has Many Fossils, But No Dinosaur Bones
Considering that most people assume that the Grand Canyon is super old, it’s normal to assume that there are endless amounts of dinosaur remains lying below its surface, however, this is incorrect. There has never been a dinosaur fossil found here and it’s believed that the canyon was only created after the dino era (nationalparks). Despite never having found dinosaur fossils, many animal remains have been found in the Grand Canyon, including those of marine animals that date back to over 1 billion years ago (nationalparks)!
8 Two Photographers Own A Business Here
Two brothers and photographers, Emery and Ellsworth Cobb, developed a rather intelligent and lucrative business model atop the canyon. They set up a studio on the southern rim of the Grand Canyon in the early 20th century and took photos of this marvellous beauty. They also used their studio to snap shots of tourists exploring the canyon on horseback and mules and then sold these photos to them once they return to their top (mentalfloss). Definitely, a smart idea that obviously made them so real cash!!
7 Teddy Roosevelt Helped Protect It
We rarely discuss how a national park became a national park and what the process was. Well, the story of the Grand Canyon’s steps to becoming a national park illustrates that this is not always easy. In 1903, Roosevelt visited the Grand Canyon for the very first time (mentalfloss). After this initial visit, he decided it needed to be protected, however without Congress’ approval, it was not initially possible. Three years later, in 1906, the Grand Canyon was finally declared a national monument and only in 1919, was it finally a national park (mentalfloss)! It does have quite the complex history, but the important part is that it’s finally a protected site.
6 It’s One of the Most Visited National Parks in the United States
National parks are evidently beautiful attractions that make large amounts of tourists flock towards them. The Grand Canyon attracts an incredible amount of tourists each year, as it is amongst the most visited national parks in the United States (doi.gov). When it was originally declared a national park, it was nowhere near as popular and received under 50 000 visitors a year (doi.gov). In the present day, it has been beaten out by the Great Smoky Mountains of North Carolina and Tennessee, who receive a little more visitors each year (doi.gov).
5 Fires Are Good For The Canyon
Most would assume that forest fires are bad for the land and health of any natural environment, however, in the case of the Grand Canyon, this is incorrect. Controlled fires are actually good for the canyon and have been used in Colorado for thousands of years now (doi.gov). These fires help thin out the forest and help keep the environment healthy. Who could’ve guessed that something so scary could actually be helpful? Don’t mistake these kinds of fires with forest fires, however, as these are completely controlled by fire managers (doi.gov).
4 The Canyon Encompasses Many Different Ecosystems
The Grand Canyon is HUGE and that means there are also lots of different species that inhabit it. Especially considering its large range in temperatures, the canyon can house many different kinds of animals and plants! Over 70 different kinds of mammals call the canyon home, as well as, over 47 reptile species and 250 bird species that live here as well! That’s quite a lot of different species coexisting (wheninyourstate)! Aside from animals, over 1750 plant species can be found in the canyon (wheninyourstate)! How impressive!
3 The Skywalk Allows You To Get An Aerial View of the Canyon
If you have a fear of heights, stay away! This transparent horseshoe-like attraction is super popular at the Grand Canyon, mainly because its view mimics that of an aerial, aeroplane view, at the fraction of the cost. This bridge has a transparent floor that extends past the edge of the canyon, allowing tourists to see up to 800 feet below them (kickassfacts). The bravest of tourists lie down flat on this bridge and claim to feel the sensation of flying. Are you intrigued or horrified?
2 The Rock Squirrel Is The Most Dangerous Animal In The Canyon
The canyon is such a massive natural wonder, that when exploring it’s normal to fear for the appearance of deadly insects, venomous snakes, hungry hyenas and strong bears, however, the most dangerous animal will actually shock you! Don’t fear the appearance of wolves, instead fear the rock squirrel! This squirrel is the most dangerous animal you’ll encounter in the canyon. They’ve become accustomed to human interaction due to constantly being fed by tourists and they have a mean bite when they are hungry (justroughinit)! Be safe, these guys won't get scared by you.
1 It’s Been the Set of Many Hollywood Productions
Do you think the Grand Canyon is breathtaking? Well, shocker, you’re not alone! It’s no mystery as to why so many filmmakers chose to use the Grand Canyon as the backdrop for their Blockbuster films. Some classics include the iconic ending of Thelma and Louise and National Lampoon’s Vacation. Shockingly, a more recent film, Transformers, was actually partially filmed here as well! All the desert scenes in this film were actually set on this massive canyon (grand-canyon-park). The more you know!