Grand Canyon National Park
  • The Grand Canyon

    The Grand Canyon of the Colorado is one of the most iconic landscapes in the world, stretching for almost 300 miles across half the width of the state of Arizona. Carved by the Colorado River as it snakes its way toward Lake Mead, the Canyon reaches depths of over a mile deep at points, and spanning almost 18 miles at its widest point. It is one of the most popular and often visited National Parks in all of the United States, though most of the visitation is concentrated in just a few small spots along the North and South Rims.

    The Canyon itself holds a great deal of religious and cultural significance to the Native American populations who inhabit the region surrounding it. The Navajo, Hopi, Havasupai, and Hualapai tribes, to name a few, all have major aspects of their cultural heritage that are derived from legends of the Canyon.

    Though it was known about for almost 200 years prior to American expansion into the West, it was never explored in depth or detail until 1869, when Major John Wesley Powell and his team became the first people to successfully navigate the river through the massive canyon. Through their many travails along their passage downriver, including the eventual death of three of their party in the western reaches, the expanses of the canyon eventually became a ripe source of exploration, and ultimately exploitation, by those who hoped to capitalize on its beauty and its resources.

    The Canyon was proclaimed a National Park in 1919, the 15th such park in the United States, and its boundaries set and protected against most incursions by developers and resource depletion. While mining and tourist development still endangers the park from its fringes, the Canyon itself is still largely devoid of significant development, making it one of the largest pristine landscapes left in the United States.

    Ultimately, it is the very expansive nature of the park that inhibits exploration and adds to its mystery. Of the millions of visitors each year who venture to see the massive cleft in the Earth's surface, only a handful dare venture into the depths of the canyon itself. Those who do, however, are treated to one of the most fascinating and unique landscapes in the world, one only hinted at from the top of the rims.

The Little Colorado River

Birthplace of the Hopi People

The Little Colorado River is the primary drainage of the northeastern Arizona desert into the Colorado River, carving a smaller, but no less impressive rift into the Eastern rim of the Grand Canyon. This iconic ravine marks the eastern boundary of the National Park, and lies within the territory of the Navajo Nation. The river holds a revered place in the mythology of both the Hopi and Navajo people, particularly the Hopi, who believe they are descended from people who emerged from the earth near the confluence of the two rivers. Today, the canyon is the subject of much debate and controversy, as developers make an unrelenting push to create tourist-centric attractions along the eastern edge of the National Park, drawing them into conflict with natives and locals looking to preserve the confluence in its natural state.

Desert View

The Eastern Edge of the Grand Canyon

Located at the Eastern entrance to Grand Canyon National Park, Desert View offers a unique look at the bend of the Colorado River from its north-south route through Marble Canyon to the east-west length of the Grand Canyon itself. Marked by the distinct architecture of Desert View Tower, a 1932 construction evoking the style of Ancestral Puebloan buildings, Desert View is often either the first or last view many visitors get of the enormity of the Grand Canyon, and one of the best vantages in the park to see the river itself.

South Kaibab Trail

The South Kaibab Trail

The South Kaibab Trail is one of the two major trails that descends from the South Rim and crosses over the Colorado River at Phantom Ranch. It is a strenuous, if only medium distance trail, about 8 miles round trip but descending and ascending nearly 7000 feet of elevation each way. At its base, a small suspension bridge allows foot and mule traffic to cross the river to the outlet of Bright Angel Creek, one of the major tributaries into the river within the park, and the route north to the North Rim.

Bright Angel Creek

The Base of the Canyon

The South Rim

Heart of the Grand Canyon

Mather Point

Yavapai Point

The South Rim Trail

Maricopa Point

Powell Point

Hopi Point

Mohave Point

The West Rim

Home of the Hualapai

Eagle Point

Guano Point

Pierce Ferry

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