**The Grand Canyon is one of the most famous National Parks, not only in the United States, but in the world. Indeed, it is considered to be one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World, both for its impressive depth and its great beauty. Just how deep is the Grand Canyon?
The Grand Canyon is 277 miles long, 18 miles wide at its widest point, and reaches a depth of 6,000 feet, which is more than a mile.
The Grand Canyon depth exposes many layers of rock and a great deal of natural history, though the information provided by the rock strata does not necessarily provide a clear portrait of the past. Geologists still debate about the formation of the canyon, but they do know the Colorado River probably started going through the canyon 17 million years ago. Whether the event was sudden and cataclysmic or the gorge took a very long time to form is still unclear.
Bonus Facts to Arouse Your Curiosity
1. While often considered to be a typical desert setting, the Grand Canyon is far from uninhabited, and actually contains examples of seven different life zones and four desert types. As an ecological refuge, the park is home to more than 1,500 different types of plants, 355 bird species, 89 mammals, 47 types of reptiles, 9 amphibians, and 17 species of fish. Some of these animals have unique adaptations to the environment. For example, one of the six rattlesnake species inhabiting the area has a pink hue which allows it to blend in with the rocks.
2. The Grand Canyon is actually part of a larger geological feature which spans north to south in the American west. The top of the feature is Arches National Park near the Colorado border with Utah, the next feature moving south is Bryce National Park, followed by Zion National Park, followed by the Grand Canyon itself. If you visit each of these sites, you can easily observe a geological progression in the features.
3. The width of the Grand Canyon varies between 4 and 18 miles across.
4. The rock near the bottom of the Grand Canyon is much older than that which is found on the top. The upper rim limestone is around 230 million years old. If you think that’s ancient, then just consider the rock found at the bottom, which is 2 billion years old.
Now what makes that even more amazing is the fact that the Earth itself is only around 4.5 billion years old. That means nearly half of the history of the planet is revealed in the rock walls lining the Colorado River.
5. In the past, the Grand Canyon was actually known as “Big Canyon” or “Great Canyon” and only was given the name “Grand Canyon” in 1869, when John Wesley Powell led the first expedition there.
The canyon has also had other names from the local indigenous tribes. The Paiute tribe called the canyon “Kaibab,” which translates roughly to “mountain turned upside down.” It was made a National Park in the year 1919, which made it the 17th National Park declared.
6. The Grand Canyon actually isn’t the deepest canyon in the world, or the longest. Both those honors belong to a canyon in the Himalayas called the Yarlung Tsangpo Grand Canyon. That canyon is 17,567 feet deep and measures 308 miles in length. That’s almost three times as deep as the Grand Canyon! Nonetheless, the Grand Canyon is a very popular tourist destination, and around 5 million visitors a year pass through the area.
7. Not many plants can grow on the floor of the canyon being as there is very little proper soil. There are some rare plants which grow in the Grand Canyon National Park though, such as the Brady Pin-cushion cactus, which was first discovered in 1958.
8. Lots of films have been made at the Grand Canyon. These include Maverick, Into the Wild, Transformers, Thelma & Louise, Fools Rush In, Grand Canyon, The Trial of Billy Jack, and a number of others.
9. Did you know the creation of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is tied to the Grand Canyon? In 1950, two passenger planes collided over the Grand Canyon, killing everyone on both planes. How did this happen? Back then, planes used to casually request permission to fly over the canyon to give their passengers a better view. The disorderly communication and permissions resulted in the crash, which is why the FAA was created to prevent such mishaps in the future.
10. Human artifacts have been discovered in the Grand Canyon which date back as far as 4000 years! To give you some perspective, the Roman Empire was 2000 years ago.
Now you know more about the Grand Canyon, one of the most popular National Parks in the United States and in all the world. If you’re ever in Arizona, be sure to stop by and take a tour or drive and experience this spectacular place for yourself.