The chasm was carved by the Colorado River carved over the
last 1.7-4.5 million years. The layer cake geology expose rock
strata more than a billion years old.
Humans have lived inside and around the canyon for at least
11,000 years. Indigenous people who have resided in the Grand
Canyon include the Diné (Navajo), Hualapai, Huavasupai,
Hopi and Kaibob Poitute.
U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt visited the Grand Canyon
in 1903 and in 1908 proclaimed it a national monument, and in
1919 the Grand Canyon was declared a national park. The canyon
extends beyond the park. On the south side of the gorge about
a third of the canyon wall lie within the park. Indian reservations
claim the rest.
Railroads built lodges in national parks as part of the 'See
America First' campaign begun in the early 1900s.
In 1901 a 64-mile (102 kilometers) railroad connected the town
of Williams to the South Rim and tourists began arriving in
serious numbers to the "destination resort." The El
Tovar Hotel was completed in 1905 and in 1922 Phantom Ranch
provided accommodation on the canyon floor. Today reservations
for Phantom Ranch are made a year in advance.
On the north rim Grand Canyon Lodge was one of the last hotels
built in the western United States. It first opened in 1928
and was rebuilt and re-opened after a fire in 1936.
When the Union Pacific Railroad ceased passenger operations
in 1971, it donated the lodge and cabins to the National Park
Service which leases the buildings to a concessioner.
Tourism numbers have increased and today more than four million
visit the park on an annual basis. That said, the average stay
is less than a day.
Overnight hiking requires a backcountry use permit. Day hikes
do not require a permit or extra fee.
The Colorado River flows along the bottom of the canyon. In
the 277-mile stretch, the river drops 2,000 feet. Stretches
of tranquil water alternate with white-water rapids. Each year
more than 20,000 people run the river. Because of the enormous
depth of Grand Canyon, the river is visible only from certain
viewpoints. It is a two-day hike to the river and back from
the South Rim. It's a longer trip from the North Rim.
The Colorado River is not the only factor responsible for the
width of the canyon. The gap between the North and South rims
is the result of erosion.
The rocks that were exposed by the Colorado River have broken
down over millions of years.
The Canyon has traveler services at the South and North Rim.
Few travelers visit both rims on a single visit. The journey
takes at least 216 miles (346 kilometers).
Due to the north rim's higher elevation (8,000 feet or 2,438
meters), it is open to visitors only from mid-May to mid-November.
The north rim is visited by only 10% of all Grand Canyon visitors.
The South Rim is open 365 days a year. The South Rim also
has its own airport. The South Rim of Grand Canyon averages
7,000 feet (2,134 meters).
The North Rim can get heavy snowfall during the winter months.
The road into the North Rim (Highway 67) is closed from the
first heavy snow in November or early December to mid-May.
VIEWPOINTS -- For the best views of the canyon
from the north rim are three developed viewpoints: Point Imperial,
Cape Royal, Bright Angel Point. At 8,803 feet Point Imperial
is the highest overlook. Bright Angel Point is a quarter mile
(400 meters) from Grand Canyon Lodge and follows a narrow trail.
A fourth viewpoint, Point Sublime, is the western-most of the
outlooks. Inquire about road conditions before heading out.