The Grand Canyon is located in Arizona, United States. The canyon was carved by the renowned Colorado River, which flows through the canyon. The Grand Canyon has a length of 446 km (277 miles), a width of 29 km (18 miles), and a depth of 1857 meters (6,093 feet). Geologists agree that the Colorado River established its course in the Grand Canyon around five to six million years ago. Since then, the river has flown through the canyon consequently deepening and widening it.
For many years, Native Americans inhabited the Grand Canyon area. They built settlements within the canyon and in the caves found therein. The native Pueblo people considered the canyon a holy site. They often made pilgrimages to the canyon. The first European visited the canyon in 1540. President Theodore Roosevelt pioneered the conservation of the Grand Canyon area and he regularly visited the canyon to hunt and enjoy the scenery.
Flora and Fauna
The Grand Canyon is home many different animal species, as well as to around 1,737 vascular plant species. Many species of moss and lichen grow at the canyon. Most plants in the Grand Canyon conservation area are endemic. In the Grand Canyon National Park, only 10% of the plants are exotic. The US Fish and Wildlife Service have given special status to 63 plant species within the canyon. The Grand Canyon is home to 90 mammal species. Of the 90 mammal species in the canyon, 22 are bats and 18 are rodents. Amphibians such as the canyon tree frog, red-spotted toad, and leopard frogs are also present. Around 48 bird species regularly nest along river Colorado. Land-based mammals at the canyon include bobcats, raccoons, weasels, gray foxes, desert bighorn sheep, and mule deer. A wide range of insects thrives along the Colorado River corridor.
The Grand Canyon resulted from erosion, which exposed fascinating complete geological columns. Differential erosion created the terraced walls of the canyon. The geological exposures in the canyon vary in age. For instance, Vishnu Schist located at the bottom of the Inner Gorge dates 2 billion years back. On the other hand, Kaibab Limestone located in the canyon is 230 million years old. Between 100,000 and 3 million years ago, ash and lava were deposited into the canyon by volcanic activity. The volcanic rocks that resulted are the youngest of the canyon's geology. Geologically, the Grand Canyon is very significant due to its thick sequence of ancient and well preserved rocks.
The Grand Canyon is a river valley based in the Colorado plateau. The canyon exposes uplifted Paleozoic and Proterozoic strata. The Grand Canyon is popular for its complex and colorful landscape. The canyon area experiences a semi-arid climate. The Colorado River drainage area experiences high precipitation due to its great elevation. However, the precipitation does not alter the semi-arid climate in the area.
The Grand Canyon is preserved within the Grand Canyon National Park. The park is rated among the world's premier attractions. Around 5 million visitors frequent the park every year. The main tourist activities at the canyon include sightseeing, hiking, skydiving, rafting, and running. Helicopter tours are also very popular. Guests can access the floor of the valley by foot, boat, raft, or mule back. The Grand Canyon skywalk opened in 2007 attracts thousands of visitors each year.
Other Long Canyons
There are other long canyons besides the Grand Canyon. They include the Yarlung Tsangpo Canyon in China, the Indus Gorge in Pakistan, the Kali Gandaki Gorge in Nepal, and The Tiger Leaping Gorge in China among others.