Water and rocks can do some interesting things to each other. When water drips from the roof of a cave over a very, very long period of time, a rock formation called a stalagmite develops on the cave floor below the drip. The water creates the rock. When water flows over open rock, it washes the rock away, leaving canyons, channels, and gullies. Flowing water that washed away rock created the largest single canyon on the Earth – the Grand Canyon of northern Arizona. Arizona’s Grand Canyon is 277 miles long. The narrowest pass through this canyon is 4 miles wide and the widest one stretches 18 miles from one canyon wall to the other. The canyon is 6,000 feet deep at its deepest spot; that’s more than a mile deep. Through this massive canyon runs the Colorado River. The Colorado River has run through the area, creating the canyon, for as long as two billion years. Over time, the river has changed course as the rock wore away. This wearing away of rock by water is called erosion. Geologists, who study rocks, believe the current course of the river was established about 17 million years ago.
Native Americans believed the canyon to be a holy site and some of them, the Pueblo and Hopi, established settlements in the canyon and in caves in canyon walls. President Theodore Roosevelt was so amazed by the canyon he declared it a game preserve in 1906 and President Woodrow Wilson made it the 17th National Park in the United States in 1919.
There are modern hotels along the rim of the canyon for today’s visitors but there are also relics of the places people lived and visited hundreds of years ago. There are cabins and houses built at the turn of the 20th century by early settlers to the canyon, too. Some of the most famous landmarks are the Buckey O’Neill Cabin, El Tovar Hotel, Hopi House, the Grand Canyon Railway Depot, Lookout Sutdio, Desert View Watchtower, and the Bright Angel Lodge.
The Grand Canyon is one of the most popular tourist attractions in the world and photos and videos of it are common. Even the most advanced photographic equipment, however, cannot capture the true majesty of this spectacular canyon. For the very best view of the canyon, you have to go there.
- Grand Canyon National Park: No one knows the Grand Canyon better than the National Park Service.
- Grand Canyon Chamber and Visitor’s Bureau: The Grand Canyon has been designated one of the 7 wonders of the world.
- The Grand Canyon from Space: This US Geologic Survey (USGS) web page features photos taken from space of many of the Earth’s most distinctive land forms, including the Grand Canyon. Click on a photo to download a better view.
- Kaibab National Forest: Visitors to the Grand Canyon can camp overnight at this national forest located on the canyon’s North Rim.
- Grand Canyon from an Astronaut’s Perspective: Zoom over the Grand Canyon in this animated video from the US National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).
- Grand Canyon Air Space: Soar like an eagle through the canyon and learn about how the canyon is protected even from the air.
- Land Use History of Grand Canyon: President Theodore Roosevelt said the canyon was so beautiful “man cannot improve it.”
- The Oldest Rocks in the Canyon: The oldest rocks, approximately 1.5 billion years old, are exposed at the bottom of the canyon.
- The American West / Grand Canyon: These vividly beautiful photographs reveal many aspects of the canyon.
- A Hike Through the Canyon: The view from the rim is breathtaking but some of the most amazing sights can only been seen from the canyon floor.
- Nature, Culture, and History at the Grand Canyon: This audio / visual tour of the canyon covers all the bases.
- Imagination Voyages!: In this simulated travel experience, ESL students plan a trip to the Grand Canyon.
- Grand Canyon Field Institute: Click on any of the dots on the maps to link to a video or image of the canyon.
- Nature / Grand Canyon: Click on the video link to watch full episodes presented by the Nature TV series on PBS.
- Map of Grand Canyon National Park: an aerial view of the Grand Canyon.