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10 Grand Canyon Facts That Will Blow Your Mind

There are no words to adequately express the Grand Canyon’s impact. For as long as people have been seeking adventure, the canyon—which is vast, enigmatic, huge, and seemingly forever wild—has captivated people’s imaginations and daring spirits. But even after more than a century of research, the canyon continues to be mysterious. Discover the specifics of seven Grand Canyon facts that never cease to astound.

A Fearless Explorer Named the Grand Canyon

On May 24, 1869, geologist and Civil War Army veteran John Wesley Powell headed out down the Colorado River. The journey had never been successfully completed by anyone before. On August 30, 1869, Powell and his company emerged from the Grand Canyon after traveling the entire length of the river. They had enough food and supplies by the time they got out to sustain the crew barely a few days. Powell was unfazed even though four of the team had given up on the exploration during the journey. He made a second trip there in 1871 after taking thorough notes, observations, and samples. The information gleaned from his excursions filled in the final significant gaps on the map of the United States.

He called the canyon “The Grand Canyon” while on the voyage. Powell’s designation for the region appeared on maps and in other publications later on.

How Did the Grand Canyon Form?

One illustration of the effects of erosion is the Grand Canyon. There are places where the Colorado River has cut itself away from the rock and land it has flowed over. This led to the formation of a deep rift, or chasm, that was up to 18 miles wide and 277 miles long. The river is roughly 100 feet deep and three hundred feet broad. The canyon’s current state is the result of river friction. Scientists estimate that the canyon was carved out by the river between three and six million years ago, based on the age of the rocks. It’s likely that the Grand Canyon was once a single canyon, but rather a collection of smaller ones that joined together when the river eroded away at the dividing rocks.

Despite what you would think, the Grand Canyon contains significant height variations. The highest point in the canyon, 2,400 feet above sea level, is Yavapai Point. At 5,400 feet below sea level, the North Rim of the Canyon is the lowest point in the canyon. Even though its dimensions are always changing, the Grand Canyon is currently 190 miles long and 1,900 square miles in size.

The Canyon Creates Its Own Weather

Due to its immense size and diverse range of habitats, the Grand Canyon produces its own unique weather. Layers of clothes are worn by hikers to adapt to the several weather conditions they encounter throughout the day. Certain parts of the canyon have regular temperate weather while others might get extremely hot on a given day due to variations in elevation! In fact, records show that in a single winter, up to 100 inches of snow have fallen on the highest rim. Considering that the canyon is officially a part of both the Mojave and the Sonoran desert, this becomes even more intriguing. “Pocket” ecosystems have been established in the canyon due to its varied altitudes, cave systems, humidity, and natural light patterns.

Occasionally, though infrequently, clouds fill the entire canyon. When warm air lies on top of cold air, a phenomenon known as “temperature inversion” occurs. A few times a year, portions of the canyon undergo partial inversion. The December 2014 full inversion was the most recent one.

What lives in the Grand Canyon?

The ecosystem of the Grand Canyon is self-sustaining. The canyon is home to twenty-five species of reptiles and seventy species of mammals. Additionally, the formation is home to 250 species of birds and 5 species of amphibians. The Grand Canyon provides a safe haven for several of these creatures because their populations are threatened. Certain species, like the pink rattlesnake, are unique to the canyon.

The Most Astonishing Fact About the Grand Canyon: A Town Is at the Bottom

Many are surprised to learn that there are people who live in the Grand Canyon. Situated in the Havasu Canyon on a reservation, Supai is a small town. Visitors under certain limits are welcome to the reservation, which is overseen by the Hasupai Tribe. Permits are required for visitors to camp and tour the area. Prior to its designation as a national park in 1919, the Havasupai tribe inhabited the canyon and its environs. The tribe retained possession of a portion of the land when the park was created. There are still about 640 members of the tribe living in the park. According to their culture, the tribe has guarded the canyon’s waterfalls for generations and still does.

The Grand Canyon is Full of Mysteries

The fact that we haven’t fully explored the Grand Canyon is the most amazing fact about it. Geologists think that the Grand Canyon is home to at least a thousand caverns, despite the fact that over three hundred caves have been identified within the canyon. The rocks themselves hold another mystery. A peculiarity in the rocks was found by scientists. The rocks in the canyon show a disparity in age of over a billion years, while being directly on top of each other. Known as the “great unconformity,” this phenomena has been observed in a number of global geographic locations. If you are really interested in seeing these two distinct rock formations, you can go all the way to the bottom of the canyon.

The Canyon was Originally Home to Indigenous Tribes

The Grand Canyon has been significant to numerous indigenous groups, as evidenced by artifacts. There are artifacts from the Zuni, Navajo, Hopi, Cerbat, Pai, Southern Paiute, Archaic, Paleo-Indian, and Basketmaker tribes. It remains unclear to archaeologists how and when each of these tribes interacted with the canyon, as well as whether or not they all resided there. Results show that mason-style dwellings were present in the canyon as early as the tenth century. Ash, trash, seeds, and broken pottery were also found. It’s true that numerous tribes once called the Grand Canyon home, but it’s unclear when.

The Grand Canyon Isn’t the Deepest Canyon in the World

Deeper are the Kali Gandaki Gorge in Nepal and the Cotahuasi Canyon in Peru. Records indicate that the Cotahuasi Canyon can reach a depth of up to twice the Grand Canyon. From certain rim peaks, the Kali Gandaki Gorge’s depth has been measured to be three times greater than that of the Grand Canyon. Tectonic activity created the Kali Gandaki Gorge, but river erosion created the Grand Canyon and the Cotahuasi Canyon. The earth’s depressions were caused by shifting tectonic plates, which also raised the nearby mountains.

The Grand Canyon is not the deepest canyon in the United States, which is a startling revelation. The Oregon, Idaho, and Washington regions make up Hell’s Canyon.

There Are No Dinosaur Fossils

What fossils could be more awesome than those of the dinosaurs? interacting with rock that predates dinosaurs. In certain places, the rocks that form the canyon’s walls date back up to a billion years before dinosaurs even existed. Just because dinosaurs never existed in the region, dinosaur fossils cannot have formed there. Furthermore, the Colorado River probably created the canyon before dinosaurs became extinct. This rules out the likelihood that dinosaurs lived in the canyon and left behind fossils.

Still, the canyon has proven to be a fossil treasure. There are lots of marine fossils in the sedimentary rock. Insight into the past can be gained from crinoids, sponges, dragonfly wing impressions, and other aquatic fossils.

How the Grand Canyon Became a National Park

In 1919, the Grand Canyon was formally designated as a national park. The contributions of multiple US presidents have led to the Grand Canyon’s current state. In 1893, it was designated as the Grand Canyon Forest Reserve by President Benjamin Harrison. After touring the canyon during a visit in 1908, President Theodore Roosevelt declared it a national monument. By designating the canyon as a national park in 1919, Woodrow Wilson took the first steps toward having it under the protection of the National Park Service.