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Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona, United States of America. Author National Park Service Digital Image Archives. No Copyright
Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona, United States of America. Author National Park Service Digital Image Archives

Grand Canyon: Arizona’s wonder

The Grand Canyon National Park, the most visited park of Arizona and the second the United States, is located in northwestern Arizona, it covers an area of 4,931 square kilometers, and includes the most spectacular part of the canyon carved by the Colorado River, the area became a national park in 1919.

The Grand Canyon, declared in 1979 by UNESCO a World Heritage Site, is the most spectacular example in the world of river erosion. The Colorado River has carved, in the Arizona plateau rocks, an incision 1,600 meters deep, up to 29 km wide and 446 km long (from Lees Ferry to Grand Wash Cliffs), dramatically shaping the surrounding landscape.

The origin of the Grand Canyon dates to about 5-6 million years ago, probably the phenomenon was accentuated by a rise in the Colorado plateau, which caused an increase in the gradient of the Colorado river and its tributaries, causing a fast erosion by rivers that flowed into the Gulf of California.

The result of this erosion phenomenon is one of the most complete geological sections of the planet, real pages of a large book of history, changing from old rocks 230 million years old of the Kaibab Limestone on the edge of the canyon, until arriving at rocks old 2 billion years of the Vishnu Schist at the bottom of the Inner Gorge. The Grand Canyon crosses a plateau, situated between 1,525 and 2,745 meters high, the plateau surface is slightly inclined in the south-west.

Grand Canyon, Arizona, United States of America. Author Pescaiolo. No Copyright

Grand Canyon, Arizona, United States of America. Author Pescaiolo

The park is divided into two sections, the South Rim and North Rim, the two sides are separated by the river canyon Colorado, the river is located at a depth of 1.6 kilometers. Between the North Rim and the South Rim, there is a difference in height of about 365 meters. Along the North Rim, formed from the Kaibab Plateau, grow dense forests, also along the South Rim, lower and formed by the Coconino Plateau, are evergreen plants forests, although less dense than those found on the Northern side. Other types of vegetation are those that are inside the canyon, where the vegetation consists mainly of plants typical of the desert climate, such as agave, cactus and yucca.

The distance as the crow flies between the two edges of the canyon is only 10 miles (16 km), but the road distance between the South Rim Village and the North Rim Village is 215 miles (346 km), to make them about 5 hours of driving are required. Remarkable is the difference in climate and vegetation between the two parts of the park because of the different height between the two edges. The South Rim (2,134 meters), easy to reach, is the most visited of the two; less visited is the North Rim (2,438 meters), wild, secluded and harder to achieve.

The area of the Grand Canyon was inhabited by Native American tribes who built some settlements along the canyon walls. The first Europeans to see the Grand Canyon were, in 1540, members of a small Spanish exploring expedition sent by the Spanish explorer Francisco Vázquez de Coronado. The expedition led by Captain Garcia Lopez de Cardenas, was composed of a small group of Spanish soldiers and some Hopi Indian guides, they explored the South Rim between the current Desert View and Moran Point. Pablo de Melgrossa, Juan Galeras and a third soldier descended into the canyon for a third of the way down to the river, but were then forced to go back due to the lack of water. After this expedition, no other European visited the Grand Canyon for the next 230 years.

Grand Canyon, Arizona, United States of America. Author Olivier. Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution

Grand Canyon, Arizona, United States of America. Author Olivier


Hours: The South Rim is open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. The North Rim is open from mid-May to mid-October.

Tickets: The entrance fee is $ 25.00 per vehicle and includes all the passengers of the vehicle. The entrance fee for those who arrive without a vehicle (on foot, by bicycle, motorbike) is $ 12.00 per person. The ticket is valid for 7 days (under 16 years are admitted free) and includes admission to the South Rim and North Rim.

South Rim services available: camping, accommodation and restaurants are open all year round (it is recommended to book well in advance). A free bus (shuttle buses) operates in the Grand Canyon Village. Visitor Center: The main Visitor Center of the park, Canyon View Information Plaza (open every day of the year from 8 am to 5 pm), is located at Mather Point (only via the free bus). At the east entrance of the South Rim of the park is the Desert View Information Center, open from 9 am to 5 pm, with the exception of the winter months.

North Rim services available: camping sites and accommodation are open from mid-May to mid-October (it is always advised to book well in advance). Visitor Center: The North Rim Visitor Center, is located near the parking lot of the Bright Angel Peninsula, is open from mid-May to mid-October from 8 am to 6 pm.

Grand Canyon climate.

Main attractions of the Grand Canyon.


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