The Grand Canyon in Arizona is one of the most beautiful places to visit in the state. It’s the best place to get away if you want to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city. Its natural beauty and breathtaking sights are just a few reasons why you should visit the national park. Below are some interesting facts about the Grand Canyon that you will want to visit even more.
Facts about the Grand Canyon
The Grand Canyon is huge
Did you know that the Grand Canyon is approximately 4,931 square kilometers (1,904 square miles) or 1,218,375 acres? In fact, it can fit all of the state of Rhode Island, which is just 3,144 square kilometers (1,214 square miles) or 776,960 acres. Given its size, there is a lot to discover at the Grand Canyon! And because it is very spacious, you will experience completely different weather conditions in other areas of the park. The north edge could be 12 degrees Celsius (54 ° F) while the south edge could be up to 18 degrees Celsius (64 ° F).
But the Grand Canyon isn’t the largest canyon in the world
Although the Grand Canyon is huge, it is not the deepest canyon in the world. The Grand Canyon is 1,857 meters deep and 29 kilometers wide at its widest point. While this is really impressive, the title of the largest canyon in the world belongs to the Yarlung Tsangpo Grand Canyon in Tibet. The same canyon is even longer than the Grand Canyon.
Read more about Arizona and the Grand Canyon
Grand Canyon National Park has pink snakes
There are six species of rattlesnake on the borders of Grand Canyon Park, one of which is unusually pink. If you’re a hiker and have been to the Grand Canyon before, you might have seen one of these snakes. They are the most common snakes in the park and are usually found on sandy paths and rocks to look for lizards. They may be common in the Grand Canyon, but in fact, this species of rattlesnake is nowhere else on earth.
5.9 million people visit the Grand Canyon each year
An estimated 5.9 million people worldwide visit the Grand Canyon each year, making it the second most-visited national park in the United States. The most visited park is the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in North Carolina and Tennessee with about 12.5 million visitors annually.
The Grand Canyon is full of wildlife
About 373 species of birds, 18 species of fish, 58 species of reptiles and 91 species of mammals make the Grand Canyon their home. In total, there are more than 8,000 known species in the Grand Canyon. Seven of these species are critically endangered. Endangered species that inhabit the Grand Canyon include the ridgway rail, California condor, southwestern willowcatcher, razorback sucker, humpback whale, and kanab amber snail are at risk.
Additionally, the Grand Canyon is home to approximately 1,747 species of plants and 208 species of exotic non-native plants.
Teddy Roosevelt helped protect the Grand Canyon
Roosevelt’s visit to the Grand Canyon in 1903 was enough to convince him to protect it. However, at that point it was simply beyond its authority to protect it by designating the area as a national park. It was not until 1906 that he founded the Grand Canyon Game Preserve with a proclamation from the President. The park was then declared a national monument two years later, in 1908. Final approval came in 1919 when the Grand Canyon was declared a national park.
The village of Supai is the only village in the Grand Canyon
The Supai village is home to the Havasupai tribe, or the people of blue-green water, and can only be reached by helicopter, on foot, or by pack animals. It is only inhabited by about 208 people, according to the US census. And because it’s the most remote city in the lower 48 states, it’s the only place in the entire United States that mules deliver. Waterfalls and red canyon walls surround the village of Supai. Visitors can either stay overnight at Havasupai Lodge or get a camping permit. If you are thinking of visiting the village, check the weather forecast as flash floods are common. In fact, around 143 tourists were evacuated in 2010 when a strong storm hit the city. Currently, the Havasupai village has stopped tourism. Check their website for updates.
Read more about the Grand Canyon and Arizona
An early instant photo business once boomed in the Grand Canyon
In 1906 the brothers Ellsworth and Emery Kolb decided to start a studio when they realized that a photography business could be a good opportunity. They took photos of tourists exploring the bottom of the Grand Canyon on mules and then sold them developed prints when they walked back to the South Rim of the Grand Canyon, where the studio was.
The Grand Hoax in 1909 happened at the Grand Canyon
The Arizona Gazette reported on detailed finds by the two archaeologists who said they had discovered traces of an ancient Egyptian or Tibetan civilization in the underground tunnel in the Grand Canyon. It did so on April 5, 1909. However, the Smithsonian denied it and they failed to uncover the tunnel the two scientists claimed to have found. However, some conspiracy theorists still believe the Smithsonian covered it up. What do you think?
The Grand Canyon is the gateway to the afterlife?
The Hopi tribe believed that the Grand Canyon had a spiritual meaning. They believed that when a Hopi dies, it is on its journey to the afterlife through a “place of ascension” or a sipapuni, a dome of mineral deposits found on the banks of the small Colorado River within the canyon.
Nobody can find out exactly how old the Grand Canyon is
Geologists have debated the Grand Canyon’s age for years. Some say it is around 6 million years old, others say it is even older. It was difficult to determine its age as there are no rock records due to erosion. There is no physical carving because erosion takes away material. Instead, geologists are left with just a landscape. However, in 2021 a new research team claimed that the canyon was cut about 70 million years ago.
The Grand Canyon has many caves
The Grand Canyon is home to about 1,000 caves, but only 335 have been explored and recorded. Likewise, only a few caves in the Grand Canyon have been mapped. Although there are so many caves, only one is open to the public, the Cave of the Domes. Other caves can be visited with a permit. However, it is currently closed and only allowed for research purposes. In the caves you will see some mummified remains of Ice Age fauna and some archaeological remains.
People have inhabited the Grand Canyon for a long time
The oldest human artifacts found in the Grand Canyon are 13,000 years old. During the excavations they also found some animal figures, jewelry and pots from the Paleo-Indian period. Native Americans have inhabited the Grand Canyon for thousands of years and continue to do so.
The first Europeans settled in the Grand Canyon in 1540 when García López de Cárdenas, a Spanish conquistador, led an expedition into the canyon grounds. He sent three soldiers to carefully explore the depths of the canyon. It was only a short hike, however, as the soldiers were no longer able to explore any further. The soldiers became thirsty and there was nowhere to get clean water. It was possible because the Hopi were guarding the Colorado River; it was out of reach of the soldiers.
European Descent Explorers navigated to the bottom of the Grand Canyon in 1869
It wasn’t until 1869 that the Europeans decided to explore the bottom of the Grand Canyon. John Wesley Powell and nine men, including his brother, embarked on a thousand-mile mission on the Colorado River and then through the Grand Canyon. Unfortunately, only six of these men completed the expedition. However, Powell returned in 1871, this time with 11 men, including a scientist. After the long journey, they were able to create the first maps of the Colorado River.
Natural fires are actually good for the Grand Canyon
You’d think that natural fires could harm the national park, but researchers have found that they’re actually good for ecosystem conservation. A few years ago people tried to put out natural fires in the Grand Canyon. As a result, it only damaged the park and resulted in an unnatural cluster of shrubs, grasses and trees. Today natural fires are only controlled in the park.
When are you planning to visit the Grand Canyon?
The fun facts about the Grand Canyon should convince you to visit as soon as possible. If you choose to visit, make sure you are prepared for the trip. If you’re planning to travel to Arizona, don’t forget to check out our travel tips or check out our itineraries for more help.
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Rattlesnake photo by: Fishopotamus, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons (we haven’t met a rattlesnake in person)