The photos just don’t do it justice! The Grand Canyon is one of those places you must visit to really appreciate just how vast this canyon is, and how impressive it is. The Grand Canyon is awe inspiring, and when I stand at its edge and look far into the distance I cannot help but feel humbled by its greatness.
The Grand Canyon is not a place you can tire easily of – I’ve been there three times and I am already looking forward to the next time I visit. Admittedly the immensity of Grand Canyon was a little lost on my six year old twins, but I am sure that older children, and all adults, cannot help but be impressed.
The Grand Canyon Really is ‘Grand’!
It’s one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and one of the United States’ most popular national parks. Located entirely within the state of Arizona, and accessible from cities such as Flagstaff and Williams, the Grand Canyon is a massive 277 miles long and reaches widths of up to 18 miles.
It’s amazing to think that just one river, the Colorado River, carved out this canyon all on its own, possibly starting around 17 million years ago, and it continues to do so to this day. So although we cannot see it by just standing and watching, the Grand Canyon is constantly changing and revealing more of the earth’s geological history, making this a fascinating place for geologists!
You don’t have to be a geologist to appreciate it though, and just by visiting the main tourist accessible parts of the Grand Canyon National Park you get to see the Canyon from many different perspectives. I’ve always found the history of the area to be very interesting – Native Americans have lived within the Canyon for thousands of years, successfully managing to hunt and sustain themselves within caves and settlements that they created.
The more recent history of people in the Grand Canyon began in 1903 when US president Theodore Roosevelt visited and established a Game Preserve, and in 1919 it became a National Park. There are still a number of historic buildings dating from the early 1900s standing on the South Rim of the Grand Canyon today, and these are part of the popular visitor attractions.
Viewing the Grand Canyon
You can actually walk along the rim on the southern edge and/or use the free shuttle bus. The bus is the only way by transport that you can reach Hermit’s Rest as this portion of the South Rim Drive is closed to cars, and is only open to the shuttle buses between March and December. Along the route of the shuttle bus you’ll have the option of getting off to look from viewpoints, each offering a slightly different view.
Heading out to the east from Grand Canyon Village the road is open year round and can be driven by private vehicles. There are not as many places to stop along this section of the road, and many people driving it head straight to Desert View and the Watchtower. I really enjoy visiting the historic Watchtower which was completed in 1932 and designed by American architect Mary Colter. The tower looks older than it actually is as it was designed to resemble similar towers of the Ancient Pueblo Peoples. It does look authentic to the untrained eye though!
You can enjoy different views of the Canyon from the windows of the Watchtower, and you can also see some very nice sunsets from here.
Another popular way to see the Grand Canyon, though I haven’t done this myself, is to hike down into the Canyon itself. Attempting to do this during the height of summer is not a good idea because it gets extremely hot down there owing to the heat being trapped in by the canyon walls. Even so, many hundreds of visitors do hike down each year.
And a newer way to see the Grand Canyon is on the Grand Canyon Skywalk. This is not located within the National Park, but is owned and operated by the Hualapai Indian tribe in a fairly remote area. The Skywalk is a transparent cantilever bridge that hangs out over the Canyon, providing unique views.
The Grand Canyon is one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World. Have you visited any of the other six Natural Wonders and what are your fondest memories of them?