The Grand Canyon

Graphic depicting the Grand Canyon in Arizona.The uniqueness of the Grand Canyon makes it one of the 7 Natural Wonders of the World. This steep-sided canyon located in the state of Arizona was formed by the Colorado River. No one really knows what specific geologic processes are responsible for its existence. Some recent researchers have uncovered evidence that about 17 million years ago, the Colorado River established its course through what became known as the Grand Canyon. Even though this massive gorge is not the longest or the steepest canyon in the world, its overall scale and spectacularly brilliant colored landscape contribute to it being one of the natural wonders of the world.

It is now a part of Grand Canyon National Park, where it is managed by the National Park Service, the Hualapai Tribal Nation, and the Havasupai Tribe. Native Americans occupied much of this area for over 4,000 years. The ancient rock layers within the canyon serve as a record of the early geologic history of North America. Its cultural and historic significance and its breathtaking beauty qualify it to be one of the most famous 7 Natural Wonders of the World.

The semi-arid climate of the Grand Canyon is conducive to growing the rich and diverse flora and fauna. More than 75 different species of mammals, several species of reptiles, more than 25 species of fish, and more than 300 diverse species of birds flourish within the canyon. At all times, the temperature on the Rims of the Grand Canyon is cooler by almost 30 degrees than it is within the canyon itself. The weather does vary by seasons with heavy rains occurring on both the North and South Rims in late summer.

Visiting the Grand Canyon

It is estimated that an average of approximately five million tourists visit the Grand Canyon each year. The canyon offers visitors a variety of unique experiences and unequaled spectacular views. Magnificent vistas are found throughout the entire park area with the South Rim providing some of the most breathtaking scenery. Toroweap Overlook is one of the favorite spots visited by tourists. Lipan Point offers visitors the opportunity to experience a variety of rock strata and provides them with an incredible view of the Unkar Creek area.

Tourists who want to experience the canyon from a much higher vantage point prefer viewing it from the North Rim where the elevation averages about 8,000 feet. Those who prefer to experience one of the most natural wonders of the world from a closer perspective may choose to take a mule ride into the canyon. These trail rides are available from mid-May to mid-October and allow riders to experience the canyon at a slower pace.

The highest point on the North Rim is 8,803 feet. Tourists here are treated to the spectacular view of the Painted Desert and the eastern end of the Grand Canyon. At this height, the many layers of red and black Precambrian rocks become highly visible as they add color and contrast to the overall scenery. Cape Royal is one of the most popular spots for visitors who want to experience the magnificence of Grand Canyon sunrises and sunsets.

Many seasoned tourists claim that the best way to experience the entire canyon is to take a helicopter tour. They prefer to see it in its entirety rather than in small segments. The debate continues as many adventurous individuals want to experience the grandeur through traditional hikes or backpacking trips. Regardless of the chosen means of exploring this marvelous natural wonder, previous visitors agree that it is a worthwhile destination for those seeking a memorable, rewarding adventure.

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