The Grand Canyon

Deep martian-like canyons as far as the eye can see

A day after our wild river adventure, we woke up and made our way to Grand Canyon National Park. On the way, we saw a sign along the road for Bearizona (just a quick detour but it was a blast!). When we arrived at the Grand Canyon, everyone was excited, I was especially so to show my cousin around a place that has always inspired me and made me realize how big our planet truly is.

Our trek led us to the South Rim, looking out over the vast landscape that makes up the park. One of the only places I have ever seen where I had no words to describe the size…and I still cannot think of one! It was so fun to run around and get ‘close’ to the edge and see my cousin’s reaction (he HATES heights!). We took several pictures and hiked around the area.

Park Statistics Section

* The following eight sections are pulled directly from Grand Canyon National Park’s website – see more here.

Authorization

  • 1882: First unsuccessful attempt to establish a Grand Canyon National Park
  • 1893: Designated a “forest reserve” by President Benjamin Harrison (Presidential Proclamation #45)
  • 1908: Established as Grand Canyon National Monument by Theodore Roosevelt (Presidential Proclamation #794)
  • 1919: Designated Grand Canyon National Park by an act of Congress on February 26 (40 Stat 1175)
  • 1975: Grand Canyon National Park Enlargement Act, an act of Congress of January 4 (88 Stat 2089) (Public Law 93-620)
  • 1979: Designated a World Heritage Site on October 26

Geography

  • Park Size: 1,217,403.32 acres (487,350 hectares) or 1,904 sq. miles (4,950 kilometers)
  • Length: 277 river miles (446 km)
  • Width: Minimum at Marble Canyon 600 feet (180 m), Average Rim to Rim 10 miles (16 km), Maximum Rim to Rim 18 miles (28.8km)
  • Depth: Average 1 mile (1.6km)
  • Elevations: South Rim 7,000 feet (2100m) and North Rim 8,000 feet (2400m)
  • Volume: Cubic Yards 5.45 trillion or Cubic Meters 4.17 trillion

Geology

‘Grand Canyon National Park preserves an iconic geologic landscape and resources ranging from 1,840 to 270 million years old, including diverse paleontological resources; unconsolidated surface deposits; a complex tectonic and erosion history; and Pliocene to Holocene volcanic deposits. The Colorado River established its course through the canyon about six million years ago, and likely evolved from pre-existing drainages to its current course. Geologic processes, including erosion of tributaries and slopes, and active tectonics continue to shape the canyon today. The geologic record in Grand Canyon is an important scientific chronicle and is largely responsible for its inspirational scenery.’

Wildlife

  • 373 species of birds
  • 91 species of mammals
  • 18 species of fish (5 native)
  • 58 species of reptiles and amphibians
  • 8,480 known species of invertebrates
  • 23 exotic (non-native) animal species
  • 20 endemic animal species
  • 7 Endangered Species: California condorhumpback chubrazorback sucker, southwestern willow flycatcher, Kanab ambersnail, and Ridgeway’s rail.
  • 3 Threatened Species: Mexican spotted owl, yellow-billed cuckoo, and desert tortoise.
  • 10 Extirpated Species: Grizzly bear, black-footed ferret, gray wolf, jaguar, Bear Valley sandwort, Colorado Pikeminnow, bonytail, roundtail chub, northern leopard frog, and southwestern river otter.
  • There are over 35 species of special concern and former USFWS Category 2 species.
  • One reptile, three mammal and one mollusk species are known only from the Grand Canyon region. At least nine species of insects are endemic to Grand Canyon; and six fish species are endemic to the Colorado River basin.

Vegetation

  • 1,750 species of vascular plants
  • Four endemic species
  • 205 exotic (non-native) species
  • One endangered species: Sentry milk-vetch (Astragalus cremnophylax var. cremnophylax)
  • Nine species of special concern (formerly category 2 species) are known, and 25 additional vascular plants are of management concern due to their limited distribution.
  • Six vegetation formation types: riparian, desert scrub, pinyon /juniper woodland, ponderosa pine forest, spruce / fir forest, and montane meadows / sub-alpine.

Cultural Resources

  • 11 Traditionally Associated Native American tribes.
  • Oldest human artifacts found within the park date to the Paleoindian period and are nearly 12,000 years old. There has been continuous use and occupation of the park since that time.
  • Archaeological evidence from the following prehistoric culture groups: Paleoindian, Archaic, Basketmaker, Ancestral Puebloan (Kayenta and Virgin branches), Cohonina, Cerbat, Pai, and Southern Paiute.
  • Historical-period cultural groups the Hopi, Navajo, Pai, Southern Pauite, Zuni and Euro-American.
  • More than 4,459 recorded archaeological resources
  • The park’s Traditionally Associated Tribes and historic ethnic groups view management of archaeological resources as preservation of their heritage.
  • Eight National Historic Landmarks.
  • 39 National Register of Historic Places
  • National Register properties include archaeological sites, historic structures, cultural landscapes, and ethnographic resources.
  • Determinations of eligibility have been prepared by both Hopi and Zuni preservation offices identifying elements of the greater Grand Canyon, Colorado River, Bright Angel Creek and Little Colorado River as a Traditional Cultural Property.

Climate

  • Climate in Grand Canyon National Park is relatively mild.
  • Low humidity generally allows large temperature differences between day and night.
  • Precipitation totals are low, so year-to-year variations can be large. The passage of a few major storms can have a significant impact on the year’s total.

South Rim

  • Mean High/Low Temperature: 63°F (17°C)/ 35°F (2°C)
  • Average Annual Precipitation: 15.6 in. (39.6 cm)
  • Total Precipitation in 2016: 22.4 in. (56.9 cm)

North Rim

  • Mean High/Low Temperature: 56°F (14°C)/ 30°F (-1°C)
  • Average Annual Precipitation: 25.3 in. (64.3 cm)
  • Total Precipitation in 2016: 25.5 in. (64.7 cm)

2017 Visitation

Shuttle System Passengers

  • 7,775,599 boardings (not passengers)
  • Year-round shuttle service began March 10, 2000
  • Implemented in 1974, the shuttle system has provided over 165,740,177 rides since its inception.

Could’ve been a boring section, but those statistics provided by the National Park Service blew my mind!

We also had an awesome snack along for the ride from our friends at Tailspin Jerky, so we shot a few promotional shots for them at several cool spots. They shipped us a box of all the flavors to our hotel in Las Vegas, it was so clutch..thanks y’all!

Due to needing to make the most of our time to be able to see other awesome places while we were out West, we spent a few hours there, then got back on the road. We had a couple other places in mind, which included stopping by Horseshoe Bend for sunset. Fun fact: many people drive right past Horseshoe Bend and never know any better. It is off to the NE of AZ 188 of in between Roosevelt and Claypool. We will talk more about the bend in the next post from our trip.

We had an absolute blast seeing the Grand Canyon and experiencing the wonder. It was pretty insane how many tourists were there, but once you get off the beaten path they thin out very quickly. I hope you get the chance to visit this beautiful destination some day yourselves!

Happy Trails!

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