Do you know these facts about the Grand Canyon? Test your knowledge about one of the United States’ most popular natural attractions!
With about five million visitors every single year, the Grand Canyon is one of the United States’ most popular naturally occurring tourist attractions, as there are many Grand Canyon tours, Grand Canyon hotels and sights to see for visitors. As such, there are a lot of facts that are commonly repeated on every website, brochure, or booklet about the Grand Canyon. If you are tired of hearing the same information over and over, here are 10 intriguing facts that you probably don’t know about one of our most beautiful national landmarks.
1. The Grand Canyon was one of our very first national parks. President Theodore Roosevelt first made it a game preserve in 1906, and then redesignated it as a U.S. National Monument in 1908. It wasn’t until 1919, 11 years later, that President Woodrow Wilson made it a national park — one of our first.
2. There aren’t any dinosaur fossils at the Grand Canyon! You’d think this would be the perfect place to find dinosaur fossils, but actually the rocks here are far older than the dinosaurs. The fossils you find are simple prehistoric creatures such as corals, sponges, and trilobites. You can also find fossilized reptile footprints, but there aren’t any fossilized reptile skeletons.
3. The Grand Canyon is the second largest canyon in the world.Determining the largest canyon is difficult because there are so many measurements to take into account, but many consider the Grand Canyon to be the second largest canyon. The Tsangpo Canyon in Tibet is actually deeper and longer than the Grand Canyon.
4. The Spanish “discovered” the Grand Canyon in 1540 while searching for native riches. Francisco Vázquez de Coronado was looking for the mythological Seven Cities of Gold when his expedition encountered the Grand Canyon. They explored the canyon only briefly due to lack of water.
5. The widest point of the Grand Canyon is farther than the average American’s commute to work. The average commute is only about 15 miles, and the widest part of the Grand Canyon is 18 miles!
6. The weather can vary dramatically between the North Rim and the South Rim. Just because it’s all part of the same canyon doesn’t mean the weather is the same. The North Rim is considerably higher in elevation, and as a result is quite a bit cooler and more unpredictable, with the possibility of snow almost year round. As a result, the North Rim is only open to visitors in the late spring, summer, and early fall.
7. People have been in the Grand Canyon for at least 3,000 years. Human artifacts discovered in the Grand Canyon date back to about 3 or 4 thousand years, so people have lived in and around the canyon for a very, very long time. In addition, not much has changed about the way it looks over that amount of time, so think about that when you’re standing at the South Rim — what you’re seeing isn’t much different than what people saw thousands of years ago!
8. The Grand Canyon was a holy site for the native peoples in the area.People have been making trips to the Grand Canyon long before it became a popular tourist destination. The canyon had important spiritual meaning for the Pueblo Indians, and therefore the focus of many pilgrimages.
9. The Havasupai Indians still live in the Grand Canyon. Supai Village is only accessible via helicopter or horse and mule trails that climb in and out of the canyon. Tourists can stay in the village and hike and camp in Havasu Canyon, which is part of the Grand Canyon.
10. Nature isn’t the only attraction at the Grand Canyon! There are several historical buildings located in the canyon, from an 1890s cabin (now used as a guest house) to the Grand Canyon Railway Depot. The Desert View Watchtower, built in 1932, looks a lot older because it was designed to look like an Ancient Puebloan (Anasazi) watchtower.
The Grand Canyon is more than just a national park — it has a rich geological and cultural history that we can be proud of. Visiting the canyon is sure to be the trip of a lifetime, but you’ll appreciate it all that much more if you know something more about it than just how long or deep it is!