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Grand Canyon

Arizona, USA


The Grand Canyon is a steep-sided canyon carved by the Colorado River in the United States in the state of Arizona. It is contained within and managed by Grand Canyon National Park, the Hualapai Tribal Nation, and the Havasupai Tribe. President Theodore Roosevelt was a major proponent of preservation of the Grand Canyon area, and visited it on numerous occasions to hunt and enjoy the scenery. It is considered one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World.

The Grand Canyon is 277 miles (446 km) long, up to 18 miles (29 km) wide and attains a depth of over a mile (6,000 feet / 1,800 metres). Nearly two billion years of the Earth's geological history have been exposed as the Colorado River and its tributaries cut their channels through layer after layer of rock while the Colorado Plateau was uplifted. While the specific geologic processes and timing that formed the Grand Canyon are the subject of debate by geologists, recent evidence suggests the Colorado River established its course through the canyon at least 17 million years ago. Since that time, the Colorado River continued to erode and form the canyon to its present-day configuration.

For thousands of years, the area has been continuously inhabited by Native Americans who built settlements within the canyon and its many caves. The Pueblo people considered The Grand Canyon ("Ongtupqa" in Hopi language) a holy site and made pilgrimages to it. The first European known to have viewed the Grand Canyon was Garcia Lopez de Cardenas from Spain, who arrived in 1540.

The South Rim of Arizona's Grand Canyon is expensive and overcrowded, and there is usually a shortage of parking and accommodation, but that of course doesn't matter as the canyon is the most famous natural attraction in the USA and possibly in the world. No-one forgets their first sight of the Grand Canyon and it will never fail to impress or offer something new, no matter how often it is visited.

Ninety percent of tourists see only the south rim of the Grand Canyon, since it is easily accessible and the main road (AZ 64) parallels the canyon edge for some distance - here there is every conceivable facility, many superb overlooks and a choice of hiking trails. The north rim, 215 miles away by road, is much more remote and high enough in elevation to be closed during the winter months by snow, but fewer people mean more peace and tranquility and the views are just as good. The only other part of the Grand Canyon that may be approached via paved roads is Havasu Canyon, contained within the Havasupai Indian Reservation to the west, although a day's hiking is necessary.