The Grand Canyon

Hello everyone, Winnie Griggs here.  According to my This Day In History calendar, today marks the 113th anniversary of the day Teddy Roosevelt declared the Grand Canyon a national monument. I myself have visited the park twice, once in 2012 and once in 2017, and can personally attest to the fact that the word awesome fails to do it justice. 

You can find accounts and photos from those trips at the these two links:

LINK:   My First Trip To The Southwest

LINK:   My Second Trip To Southwest

 

And here are some trivia and fun facts about the Grand Canyon.

  • The park is massive in size.
    • To give you some idea of its scale, here are some various types of measurements:
      • It’s 1,904 square miles (1.2 million acres) – the state of  Rhode Island is only around 1,212 square miles.
      • The Grand Canyon is 277 miles long and 18 miles wide at its widest point. And at its narrowest point it stretches 4 miles. However that’s less than a fifth of the Colorado River’s total length of 1,450 miles,
    • Though it’s only about 10 miles as the crow flies between the North and South rim visitor services centers, there are 211 road miles and takes more than four hours to drive from one to the other.
    • Though the Colorado River has a maximum depth of 85 feet, it drops in elevation nearly 2000 ft as it travels through the Grand Canyon.

  • One really cool thing about the Grand Canyon is that it actually creates its own weather.
    • From the highest points at the rim of the canyon to its lowest point, the temperature can change by more than 25 degrees. That’s because sudden changes in elevation have tremendous impacts on temperature and precipitation. So whatever weather you’re experiencing could be very different based on your actual location in the park. The coldest, wettest weather station in the region is on the north rim at the Bright Angel Ranger Station while 8 miles away at the depths of the gorge near Phantom Ranch, is where the hottest and driest can usually be found.

  • The canyon is full of hidden caves.
    While only the Cave of Domes is open to the public there are an estimated 1,000 caves within the canyon itself and only 335 have been recorded.

  • Depending on how one measures size (length, depth, width, etc) there are several other canyons that are larger, among them are the Cotahuasi Canyon in Peru, the Kali Gandaki Gorge in Nepal and the Yarlung Tsangpo Grand Canyon in Tibet. 

 

  • There is some debate about the age of the Grand Canyon.
    For a long time scientists believed the Colorado River started carving out the canyon six million years ago. Then, in 2012, a study theorized this erosion process may actually go back 70 million years ago.
    It’s also believed that it’s likely that today’s Grand Canyon began as a number of smaller canyons but the scope of today’s canyon didn’t start taking its current shape until more recently.

  • Even though the Grand Canyon is fossil rich, you won’t find any dinosaur fossils among them. What you will find, however, includes diverse specimens that include ancient marine fossils from over 1 billion years ago as well as more recent land mammals that left their remains in canyon caves about 10,000 years ago.

  • The Grand Canyon offers one of the most visible examples of a worldwide geological phenomenon known as the Great Unconformity. The Great Unconformity refers to the fact that rock layers  that are estimated to be 250 million years old unaccountably sit directly on rocks that are 1.2 billion years old. It is a complete mystery as to what happened to the hundreds of millions of years of layers that should lie between them. 

  • The Canyon boasts about 91 species of mammals, 447 species of birds, 58 species of reptiles and 18 species of fish only five of which are native.
    • Several of these species are endangered, including the peregrine falcon, the California condor, the bald eagle, the southwestern willow flycatcher, the Ridgway’s rail, the humpback chub, the razorback sucker, and a species of snail, the Kanab ambersnail. There are also number of endangered plants that can be found there.
    • One interesting reptile, the Grand Canyon Pink Rattlesnake can only be found in the Grand Canyon. It’s one of six rattlesnake species that can be found in the park. The snake’s unusual color is an adaptation that allows it to blend into the surrounding rocks which makes it extra surprising when someone actually catches a glimpse of one.
    • Surprisingly though, even though the Grand canyon is home to dangerous animals such as snakes, Gila Monsters and big horn sheep, if you look at actual attacks on people, the most dangerous animal in the Grand Canyon is the innocuous-looking rock squirrel. Many visitors are bitten each year by this rodent than any other animal, many while trying to take selfies with or feed this “vicious” critter.

  • There are interesting facts around trying to hike the Grand Canyon
    • Believe it or not more people have walked on the moon than have actually completed a continuous length-wise hike through than Grand Canyon. 
    • Hiking the Grand Canyon is not for the casual hiker. A reasonably fit hiker takes four to five hours to trek from the South Rim to the Colorado River and, as to be expected, much longer to make the return trip.
    • The hiking records are interesting. The best known times to make it by foot from the South rim to the North rim and back for women is 7 hours, 28 minutes and 58 seconds and for men it’s  5 hours, 55 minutes and 20 seconds.
    • Trying to hike this area when you aren’t adequately prepared can have serious consequences. About 250 people have to be rescued from inside the Grand Canyon on average every year. According to park rangers, one of the biggest mistake many hikers make is to not carry enough water with them. Of course underestimating the effort involved and their own fitness to undertake the effort plays a part as well.

  • It’s been shown that the air at the Grand Canyon is among the cleanest air in the United States.

  • Like a sculptor, the Colorado River, along with other environmental elements like win and precipitation, is still working on shaping the Grand Canyon, though this is being done at a pace that makes a snail look speedy.

  • The FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) owes its existence to the Grand Canyon. Apparently it was common in the 1950s for commercial planes to take detours that  routed them over the ark to give their passengers some breathtaking views. Unfortunately, in 1956, two  planes collided with tragic results – there were no survivors. As a result the federal government moved to create the FAA. 
  • Seven years after the Grand Canyon was established as a national park, 37,745 visitors were counted. In 2019 they had 5.97 million visitors, making it second only to Great Smoky Mountains National Park as the most visited national park.

  • Did you know the Grand Canyon National Park has a physical address? It’s 20 South Entrance Road, Grand Canyon, AZ 86023.    However, if you want to send mail thee, the park’s mailing address is P.O. Box 129, Grand Canyon, AZ 86023

There’s a whole lot more I could tell you but this is probably enough for one post.

So was there anything in this list that surprised you? Have you ever visited the Grand Canyon yourself? What were your impressions?

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Winnie Griggs is the author of Historical (and occasionally Contemporary) romances that focus on Small Towns, Big Hearts, Amazing Grace. She is also a list maker, a lover of dragonflies and holds an advanced degree in the art of procrastination.
Three of Winnie’s books have been nominated for the Romantic Times Reviewers Choice Award, and one of those nominations resulted in a win.
Winnie loves to hear from readers. You can connect with her on facebook at www.facebook.com/WinnieGriggs.Author or email her at winnie@winniegriggs.com.

45 thoughts on “The Grand Canyon”

  1. I have not been there and due to my fear of heights could only think of flying over it possibly – hubs wanted to go in 2015 when we were out in Arizona, but the scary drive down from Flagstaff the first time was enough for me!

    • I can see where fear of heights would be a problem. But it you just walk the rim there are lots of places where they have tall, sturdy retaining walls where you can get the views without worry of falling.

  2. Thanks for this, Winnie. I have the proposal for a thriller that takes place on the Colorado River through the canyon in the 70’s. I’m saving this for when I get back to it!

  3. I would love to visit the Grand Canyon one day. I have seen Waimea Canyon on Kauai several times and have always been amazed by it. We just went to the lookout, not hiking into the canyon itself.

  4. I have not been there and not sure I want to go because of heights. I am afraid of heights now. I use to not be that way but have chanced a lot since I have gotten older. It sounds like it would be awesome place to visit.

  5. I love reading this informative history of the Grand Canyon. I have visited two or three times and loved each visit.

  6. Welcome. What a wonderfully interesting article today. When we lived in CA, my mom loved to visit the Grand Canyon. Once a year she would pick out a different place along it and as a family we would go on vacation. My favorite was when we visited in the mountain area. Sooo breath taking.

  7. Awesome blog! I have been to the Grand Canyon but I was so young that I don’t remember it. Having MS I definitely wouldn’t be hiking the Grand Canyon not to mention I’m deathly afraid of heights!! I couldn’t handle hicking Palo Dura Canyon. Thanks for sharing! Stay safe and Happy New Year!

    • So sorry to hear you can’t remember your visit and that your physical condition as well as issue with heights keep you from being able to enjoy it now. And you are quite welcome for the post!.

  8. I’ve always wanted to visit the Grand Canyon. I’ve been to Providence Canyon in GA, which is much smaller, but was formed in much the same way as the Grand Canyon. It’s fascinating to me to see what water and time can do.

    • Hello Kristi. So glad you enjoyed the post. It’s a fascinating place with a fascinating history. There are so many things I left out – enough that I may do another post on it someday

  9. I have been to the Grand Canyon once back in 1982, and have always wanted to go back. It is an awesome site, and at times overwhelming. I always wanted to ride a horse or burro to the bottom of the canyon.
    Thank you for all the info, I didn’t know about this wonderful park.

    • Hi Veda. I’m afraid I’m not as adventurous as you – I’ve never wanted to do the burro ride thing. One of the things I’d LOVE to do though if I ever get the chance to go back is to take the helicopter ride along the Grand Canyon – the views must be truly breath taking!

  10. I have also been to the Grand Canyon twice. My husband and I went on our honeymoon in 2009 and then we took our son in 2017. It is so breathtaking. One of my favorite places.

  11. I wrote a book set in the Grand Canyon. And for research among other things, I read a book called “The Man Who Walked Through Time.” A man who hiked the Grand Canyon from south to north. I think he was the first one. It was fascinating.
    My book is called In Too Deep, about a woman who’s professor father becomes obsessed with the idea that the Seven Cities of Gold are at the bottom of the Grand Canyon. After her father dies, the girl takes up his obsession in a quest to redeem her father’s reputation as delusional.
    And along the way, she meets a cowboy.

  12. Hi Winnie, I enjoyed reading your post. We went to the Grand Canyon as a family,but we only stayed at the top looked down and across from one side to the other. I had no idea about the pink rattle snakes, wow. Thank you so much for sharing all this information. Have a Great week and stay safe.

  13. I live in Arizona, so I have visited the Grand Canyon in all kinds of weather. The snow in winter on the rims and the fog gives it an eerie quality. A visit there should be on everyone’s bucket list. Truly a wonder to see.

  14. Thank you for sharing all of that. I never quite made it there, but I have flown over it a few times. One time, the pilot tipped the plane a bit so we could have a better view.

    denise

  15. We have been to the Grand Canyon 3 or 4 times. The first two times, in the early 1980’s, we were on our way somewhere and it was literally a drive by visit. Stop at an overlook, let the kids out, “There is the Grand Canyon,” back in the car and do the same thing at a couple other pull offs. The next time, we had rented an RV and camped for 2 nights. We had my aunt (in here 60’s) who never left the RV, my 11 year old nephew, our girls (9 & 10), our one year old son, and the 2 of us. We hiked down Bright Angel trail a bit. Our oldest daughter had an allergic reaction to antibiotics on the way down so we didn’t quite make it to the half way point. We only got down about a mile. It was really hot, so my husband and the other 3 children hiked back up and I slowly followed with our daughter who didn’t feel well. We made a short, overnight stop once on a trip in the early 2000’s, There have been several trips back out West (we lived in CO. and CA. from 1982 to 1987) after we moved back to the East coast. We stopped by again in 2013 on our “Great Tour of the West” with our grandson. We were scheduled to stay on the North Rim in May of 2015, but had to head home for a family emergency. There were a lot more stops on that trip we wanted to make. So once we can travel again, going back out that way and taking our time to see what we missed will be one of the first trips we plan.

  16. Very interesting post. I was at the Grand Canyon in November 1998 with some friends. We walked all the way down and it took about six hours. We spent the night down below and walked back up the next day. It took all day to walk back up. It was a great trip.

    • Good for you! I’m not a hiker but on our last trip 3 of my kids and one of my son-in-laws made that hike down the Bright Angel Trail (we stayed at the Bright Angel Cabins) and back in the same day. It was after dark when they finally made it back and they were a very tired out crew!

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