When planning to see all of the fantastic sites in this country on a cross country trip, there is always one destination that everyone makes an effort to see. This particular landmark is located in Arizona, stretches over 270 miles long, is 18 miles wide, and one mile deep. This area of layers upon layers of ancient rock is none other than the famous Grand Canyon, located in northern Arizona and is a good timeline of the Earth’s history. The Grand Canyon received National Park status in 1919, and today the Grand Canyon National Park encompasses more than one million acres of land. Quite a popular destination, the park receives almost five million visitors each year.
Completely a natural landmark, the Grand Canyon was cut by the Colorado River. There are many side canyons and surrounding plateaus in the area. Generally known for its red color, there are some areas of other colors including buff, gray, green, pink, brown, and violet. The Canyon’s size and magnitude are what draws those five million visitors to the area. However, that is not all that can be gained from this area. It turns out that all of the exposed rocks in the canyon walls help construct a time scale of Earth’s history that geologists can use to determine previous geologic events. Though not a complete record, the timeline lacks some areas due to the time gaps due to erosion.
In the actual canyon, there is a wide variety of animal life. Common animals include different varieties of squirrels, coyotes, foxes, deer, badgers, bobcats, rabbits, chipmunks, and kangaroo rats. There are also many bird species, including the national bird the bald eagle and the California condor. The area is also known for its drought-resistant plants, due to the fact that the temperatures in the summer can reach up to 120°F. These types of plants include tamarisks, yuccas, agaves, and numerous species of cactus. Fossils can also be found in the area as well, but most of them turn out to be of primitive algae and marine species such as mollusks and corals. Other types are not as abundant because of the advanced age of the rocks. According to the official website for the park, the oldest human artifacts found in the area proved to be nearly 12,000 years old dating back to the Paleo-Indian period. Today, three Indian reservations, the Navajo, Havasupai and Hualapai, adjoin Grand Canyon National Park.
The Grand Canyon was explored and mapped during expeditions planned by the U.S. government in the early 1800’s. This was primarily done by trappers. Geologist and ethnographer John Wesley Powell was the first person documented to have descended by boat through the canyon in 1869. There were more expeditions during the 1870’s, during which there were extensive reports on the geography and geology. In 1893, a portion of the land was set aside as the Grand Canyon Forest Reserve by President Harrison. This area was then designated in 1903 as a game preserve. In 1908 it became a national monument by President Theodore Roosevelt, until 1919 when it was established as Grand Canyon National Park, as was previously stated.Tweet