About Grand Canyon National Park
Situated in Northern Arizona, the Grand Canyon National Park is an instantly recognized icon of both the state and the US, famous for its colourful landscape and sheer size. It spans a length of 270 miles, a width of 18 miles, and a depth of 1 mile, and its walls contain layers of rock which tell volumes about the history of the Earth. It has been a human habitat for thousands of years, and its artefacts and ruins date back nearly 12000 years. The early 1800s saw expeditions and scouting parties sent out by the US government to explore and map the Grand Canyon, and it was made a Forest Reserve in 1893. Later on, in 1919, it became a National Park.
Scientists still disagree on how exactly it was formed
Geological evidence strongly suggests that the Colorado River sprouted out form the west end of the Grand Canyon National Park some five million years ago, and not before. But beyond this, an intense debate goes on about what the canyon looked like in the millions of years before this event.
The Grand Canyon’s nomenclature
The Paiute Indians called the canyon Kaibab, which translates into ‘mountain turned upside down’ or ‘mountain lying down’. The creamy white Kaibab Limestone constitutes the surface upon which the five million visitors to the park stand while enjoying the Grand Canyon’s vista.
John Wesley Powell, the one-armed war veteran responsible for charting the course of the Colorado River in 1891 and 1892 on a wooden boat, was the first individual to use the name ‘Grand Canyon’ with consistency.
Of the six species of rattlesnake discovered within the confines of the park, there is one which has a unique pink hue which blends with the local rocks. It is the most common rattlesnake in the park, and frequently startles hikers as it suns itself on the sands and rocks, on the lookout for lizards.
It reveals much of the earth’s geological history
The sedimentary rocks that cover the Vishnu schist are an attraction for geologists looking to study the record of Earth’s history. These sediments are relatively unchanged, and ceased accumulation some 230 million years ago, meaning they’re older than dinosaurs. Although no dinosaur bones have been discovered in the park, relatively recent fossils, such as 11,000 year old sloth remains, have been found inside the Grand Canyon’s caves. Several animal tracks and marine fossils also appear in the canyon’s rock layers.
Best time to visit the Grand Canyon National Park
The ideal time to take a trip to the Grand Canyon are March through May, as well as September through November, when temperatures during the day are cooler and the crowds thinner. Visiting during the summer means you’ll have to suffer hordes of tourists. There are deals available on hotels during winter, but most of the park (which includes all of the North Rim) is closed after the first snows fall.