Grand Canyon

Grand Canyon

Overview
The Grand Canyon is a steep-sided canyon
Canyon
A canyon or gorge is a deep ravine between cliffs often carved from the landscape by a river. Rivers have a natural tendency to reach a baseline elevation, which is the same elevation as the body of water it will eventually drain into. This forms a canyon. Most canyons were formed by a process of...

 carved by the Colorado River
Colorado River
The Colorado River , is a river in the Southwestern United States and northwestern Mexico, approximately long, draining a part of the arid regions on the western slope of the Rocky Mountains. The watershed of the Colorado River covers in parts of seven U.S. states and two Mexican states...

 in the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 in the state of Arizona
Arizona
Arizona ; is a state located in the southwestern region of the United States. It is also part of the western United States and the mountain west. The capital and largest city is Phoenix...

. It is largely contained within the Grand Canyon National Park
Grand Canyon National Park
Grand Canyon National Park is the United States' 15th oldest national park and is located in Arizona. Within the park lies the Grand Canyon, a gorge of the Colorado River, considered to be one of the Wonders of the World. The park covers of unincorporated area in Coconino and Mohave counties.Most...

, the 15th national park
National park
A national park is a reserve of natural, semi-natural, or developed land that a sovereign state declares or owns. Although individual nations designate their own national parks differently A national park is a reserve of natural, semi-natural, or developed land that a sovereign state declares or...

 in the United States. President Theodore Roosevelt
Theodore Roosevelt
Theodore "Teddy" Roosevelt was the 26th President of the United States . He is noted for his exuberant personality, range of interests and achievements, and his leadership of the Progressive Movement, as well as his "cowboy" persona and robust masculinity...

 was a major proponent of preservation of the Grand Canyon area, and visited it on numerous occasions to hunt and enjoy the scenery. It is considered a Wonder of the Natural World.

The Grand Canyon is 277 miles (445.8 km) long, up to 18 miles (29 km) wide and attains a depth of over a mile (6000 feet (1,828.8 m)) Nearly two billion years of the Earth
Earth
Earth is the third planet from the Sun, and the densest and fifth-largest of the eight planets in the Solar System. It is also the largest of the Solar System's four terrestrial planets...

's geological history have been exposed as the Colorado River and its tributaries cut their channels
Stream channel
Stream channel is the physical confine of a stream consisting of a bed and stream banks.Stream channels exist in a variety of geometries. The stream channel development is controlled by both water and sediment movement. There is a difference between low gradient streams and high gradient streams...

 through layer after layer of rock while the Colorado Plateau
Colorado Plateau
The Colorado Plateau, also called the Colorado Plateau Province, is a physiographic region of the Intermontane Plateaus, roughly centered on the Four Corners region of the southwestern United States. The province covers an area of 337,000 km2 within western Colorado, northwestern New Mexico,...

 was uplifted
Tectonic uplift
Tectonic uplift is a geological process most often caused by plate tectonics which increases elevation. The opposite of uplift is subsidence, which results in a decrease in elevation. Uplift may be orogenic or isostatic.-Orogenic uplift:...

.
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Encyclopedia
The Grand Canyon is a steep-sided canyon
Canyon
A canyon or gorge is a deep ravine between cliffs often carved from the landscape by a river. Rivers have a natural tendency to reach a baseline elevation, which is the same elevation as the body of water it will eventually drain into. This forms a canyon. Most canyons were formed by a process of...

 carved by the Colorado River
Colorado River
The Colorado River , is a river in the Southwestern United States and northwestern Mexico, approximately long, draining a part of the arid regions on the western slope of the Rocky Mountains. The watershed of the Colorado River covers in parts of seven U.S. states and two Mexican states...

 in the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 in the state of Arizona
Arizona
Arizona ; is a state located in the southwestern region of the United States. It is also part of the western United States and the mountain west. The capital and largest city is Phoenix...

. It is largely contained within the Grand Canyon National Park
Grand Canyon National Park
Grand Canyon National Park is the United States' 15th oldest national park and is located in Arizona. Within the park lies the Grand Canyon, a gorge of the Colorado River, considered to be one of the Wonders of the World. The park covers of unincorporated area in Coconino and Mohave counties.Most...

, the 15th national park
National park
A national park is a reserve of natural, semi-natural, or developed land that a sovereign state declares or owns. Although individual nations designate their own national parks differently A national park is a reserve of natural, semi-natural, or developed land that a sovereign state declares or...

 in the United States. President Theodore Roosevelt
Theodore Roosevelt
Theodore "Teddy" Roosevelt was the 26th President of the United States . He is noted for his exuberant personality, range of interests and achievements, and his leadership of the Progressive Movement, as well as his "cowboy" persona and robust masculinity...

 was a major proponent of preservation of the Grand Canyon area, and visited it on numerous occasions to hunt and enjoy the scenery. It is considered a Wonder of the Natural World.

The Grand Canyon is 277 miles (445.8 km) long, up to 18 miles (29 km) wide and attains a depth of over a mile (6000 feet (1,828.8 m)) Nearly two billion years of the Earth
Earth
Earth is the third planet from the Sun, and the densest and fifth-largest of the eight planets in the Solar System. It is also the largest of the Solar System's four terrestrial planets...

's geological history have been exposed as the Colorado River and its tributaries cut their channels
Stream channel
Stream channel is the physical confine of a stream consisting of a bed and stream banks.Stream channels exist in a variety of geometries. The stream channel development is controlled by both water and sediment movement. There is a difference between low gradient streams and high gradient streams...

 through layer after layer of rock while the Colorado Plateau
Colorado Plateau
The Colorado Plateau, also called the Colorado Plateau Province, is a physiographic region of the Intermontane Plateaus, roughly centered on the Four Corners region of the southwestern United States. The province covers an area of 337,000 km2 within western Colorado, northwestern New Mexico,...

 was uplifted
Tectonic uplift
Tectonic uplift is a geological process most often caused by plate tectonics which increases elevation. The opposite of uplift is subsidence, which results in a decrease in elevation. Uplift may be orogenic or isostatic.-Orogenic uplift:...

. While the specific geologic processes and timing that formed the Grand Canyon are the subject of debate by geologists, recent evidence suggests the Colorado River established its course through the canyon at least 17 million years ago. Since that time, the Colorado River continued to erode and form the canyon to its present-day configuration.

For thousands of years, the area has been continuously inhabited by Native Americans
Native Americans in the United States
Native Americans in the United States are the indigenous peoples in North America within the boundaries of the present-day continental United States, parts of Alaska, and the island state of Hawaii. They are composed of numerous, distinct tribes, states, and ethnic groups, many of which survive as...

 who built settlements within the canyon and its many caves. The Pueblo people considered the Grand Canyon ("Ongtupqa" in Hopi language
Hopi language
Hopi is a Uto-Aztecan language spoken by the Hopi people of northeastern Arizona, USA, although today some Hopi are monolingual English speakers.The use of the language has gradually declined over the course of the 20th century...

) a holy site and made pilgrimages to it. The first European known to have viewed the Grand Canyon was García López de Cárdenas
García López de Cárdenas
García López de Cárdenas, , is credited with the first European discovery of the Grand Canyon.- Life :Cárdenas was born in Llerena, Spain, son to Alonso de Cárdenas y doña Elvira de Figueroa and Maria García Osorio. He was the comendador of Caravaca.López de Cárdenas was conquistador attached to...

 from Spain, who arrived in 1540.

Geography


The Grand Canyon is a huge rift in the Colorado Plateau
Colorado Plateau
The Colorado Plateau, also called the Colorado Plateau Province, is a physiographic region of the Intermontane Plateaus, roughly centered on the Four Corners region of the southwestern United States. The province covers an area of 337,000 km2 within western Colorado, northwestern New Mexico,...

 that exposes uplifted Proterozoic
Proterozoic
The Proterozoic is a geological eon representing a period before the first abundant complex life on Earth. The name Proterozoic comes from the Greek "earlier life"...

 and Paleozoic
Paleozoic
The Paleozoic era is the earliest of three geologic eras of the Phanerozoic eon, spanning from roughly...

 strata, and is also one of the 19 distinct physiographic sections of the Colorado Plateau province. It is not the deepest canyon in the world (Kali Gandaki Gorge
Kali Gandaki Gorge
The Kali Gandaki Gorge or Andha Galchi is the gorge of the Kali Gandaki in the Himalayas in Nepal, by some measures the deepest gorge in the world....

 in Nepal
Nepal
Nepal , officially the Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal, is a landlocked sovereign state located in South Asia. It is located in the Himalayas and bordered to the north by the People's Republic of China, and to the south, east, and west by the Republic of India...

 is far deeper), nor the widest (Capertee Valley
Capertee Valley
The Capertee Valley is a large valley in New South Wales, Australia, north-west of Sydney. It is longer and about wider than the Grand Canyon of Arizona...

 in Australia is about 0.6 mi/1 km wider and longer than Grand Canyon); however, the Grand Canyon is known for its visually overwhelming size and its intricate and colorful landscape. Geologically it is significant because of the thick sequence of ancient rocks that are beautifully preserved and exposed in the walls of the canyon. These rock layers record much of the early geologic history of the North American continent.
Uplift associated with mountain
Mountain
Image:Himalaya_annotated.jpg|thumb|right|The Himalayan mountain range with Mount Everestrect 58 14 160 49 Chomo Lonzorect 200 28 335 52 Makalurect 378 24 566 45 Mount Everestrect 188 581 920 656 Tibetan Plateaurect 250 406 340 427 Rong River...

 formation later moved these sediments thousands of feet upward and created the Colorado Plateau. The higher elevation
Elevation
The elevation of a geographic location is its height above a fixed reference point, most commonly a reference geoid, a mathematical model of the Earth's sea level as an equipotential gravitational surface ....

 has also resulted in greater precipitation
Precipitation (meteorology)
In meteorology, precipitation In meteorology, precipitation In meteorology, precipitation (also known as one of the classes of hydrometeors, which are atmospheric water phenomena is any product of the condensation of atmospheric water vapor that falls under gravity. The main forms of precipitation...

 in the Colorado River drainage area, but not enough to change the Grand Canyon area from being semi-arid. The uplift of the Colorado Plateau is uneven, and the Kaibab Plateau
Kaibab Plateau
The Kaibab Plateau is located in northern Arizona in the United States. The plateau, part of the larger Colorado Plateau, is bordered on the south by the Grand Canyon and reaches an elevation of 9241 feet above sea level. The plateau is divided between Kaibab National Forest and the "North Rim"...

 that Grand Canyon bisects is over a thousand feet higher at the North Rim (about 1000 ft (304.8 m)) than at the South Rim. Almost all runoff from the North Rim (which also gets more rain
Rain
Rain is liquid precipitation, as opposed to non-liquid kinds of precipitation such as snow, hail and sleet. Rain requires the presence of a thick layer of the atmosphere to have temperatures above the melting point of water near and above the Earth's surface...

 and snow
Snow
Snow is a form of precipitation within the Earth's atmosphere in the form of crystalline water ice, consisting of a multitude of snowflakes that fall from clouds. Since snow is composed of small ice particles, it is a granular material. It has an open and therefore soft structure, unless packed by...

) flows toward the Grand Canyon, while much of the runoff on the plateau behind the South Rim flows away from the canyon (following the general tilt). The result is deeper and longer tributary washes and canyons on the north side and shorter and steeper side canyons on the south side.

Temperatures on the North Rim are generally lower than the South Rim because of the greater elevation (averaging 8,000 ft/2,438 m above sea level). Heavy rains are common on both rims during the summer months. Access to the North Rim via the primary route leading to the canyon (State Route 67) is limited during the winter season due to road closures. Views from the North Rim tend to give a better impression of the expanse of the canyon than those from the South Rim.

Geology


The Colorado River basin (of which the Grand Canyon is a part) has developed in the past 40 million years. A recent study places the origins of the canyon beginning some 17 million years ago. Previous estimates had placed the age of the canyon at 5 to 6 million years. The study, which was published in the journal Science
Science (journal)
Science is the academic journal of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and is one of the world's top scientific journals....

in 2008, used uranium-lead dating
Uranium-lead dating
Uranium-lead is one of the oldest and most refined of the radiometric dating schemes, with a routine age range of about 1 million years to over 4.5 billion years, and with routine precisions in the 0.1-1 percent range...

 to analyze calcite
Calcite
Calcite is a carbonate mineral and the most stable polymorph of calcium carbonate . The other polymorphs are the minerals aragonite and vaterite. Aragonite will change to calcite at 380-470°C, and vaterite is even less stable.-Properties:...

 deposits found on the walls of nine caves throughout the canyon. There is a substantial amount of controversy because this research suggests such a substantial departure from prior widely supported scientific consensus.

The result of all this erosion
Erosion
Erosion is when materials are removed from the surface and changed into something else. It only works by hydraulic actions and transport of solids in the natural environment, and leads to the deposition of these materials elsewhere...

 is one of the most complete geologic columns on the planet.

The major geologic exposures in the Grand Canyon range in age from the 2 billion year old Vishnu Schist at the bottom of the Inner Gorge to the 230 million year old Kaibab Limestone
Kaibab Limestone
The Kaibab is a geologic formation that is spread across the U.S. states of northern Arizona, southern Utah, east central Nevada and southeast California. This geologic unit is part of the Park City Group in Nevada and Utah and is sometimes locally classified as a geologic group in Utah...

 on the Rim. There is a gap of about one billion years between the stratum that is about 500 million years old and the lower level, which is about 1.5 billion years old. This large unconformity
Unconformity
An unconformity is a buried erosion surface separating two rock masses or strata of different ages, indicating that sediment deposition was not continuous. In general, the older layer was exposed to erosion for an interval of time before deposition of the younger, but the term is used to describe...

 indicates a period of erosion between two periods of deposition.

Many of the formations were deposited in warm shallow seas, near-shore environments (such as beach
Beach
A beach is a geological landform along the shoreline of an ocean, sea, lake or river. It usually consists of loose particles which are often composed of rock, such as sand, gravel, shingle, pebbles or cobblestones...

es), and swamp
Swamp
A swamp is a wetland with some flooding of large areas of land by shallow bodies of water. A swamp generally has a large number of hammocks, or dry-land protrusions, covered by aquatic vegetation, or vegetation that tolerates periodical inundation. The two main types of swamp are "true" or swamp...

s as the seashore repeatedly advanced and retreated over the edge of a proto-North America. Major exceptions include the Permian Coconino Sandstone
Coconino Sandstone
Coconino Sandstone is a geologic formation named after its exposure in Coconino County, Arizona. This formation spreads across the Colorado Plateau province of the United States, including northern Arizona, northwest Colorado, Nevada, and Utah....

, which contains abundant geological evidence of aeolian sand dune deposition. Several parts of the Supai Group also were deposited in non–marine environments.

The great depth of the Grand Canyon and especially the height of its strata (most of which formed below sea level
Sea level
Mean sea level is a measure of the average height of the ocean's surface ; used as a standard in reckoning land elevation...

) can be attributed to 5,000 to 10,000 feet (1500 to 3000 m) of uplift of the Colorado Plateau, starting about 65 million years ago (during the Laramide Orogeny
Laramide orogeny
The Laramide orogeny was a period of mountain building in western North America, which started in the Late Cretaceous, 70 to 80 million years ago, and ended 35 to 55 million years ago. The exact duration and ages of beginning and end of the orogeny are in dispute, as is the cause. The Laramide...

). This uplift has steepened the stream gradient
Stream gradient
Stream gradient is the grade measured by the ratio of drop in a stream per unit distance, usually expressed as feet per mile or metres per kilometre.-Hydrology and geology:A high gradient indicates a steep slope and rapid flow of water Stream gradient is the grade (slope) measured by the ratio of...

 of the Colorado River and its tributaries, which in turn has increased their speed and thus their ability to cut through rock (see the elevation summary of the Colorado River for present conditions).

Weather conditions during the ice age
Ice age
An ice age or, more precisely, glacial age, is a generic geological period of long-term reduction in the temperature of the Earth's surface and atmosphere, resulting in the presence or expansion of continental ice sheets, polar ice sheets and alpine glaciers...

s also increased the amount of water in the Colorado River drainage system. The ancestral Colorado River responded by cutting its channel faster and deeper.

The base level and course of the Colorado River (or its ancestral equivalent) changed 5.3 million years ago when the Gulf of California
Gulf of California
The Gulf of California is a body of water that separates the Baja California Peninsula from the Mexican mainland...

 opened and lowered the river's base level
Base level
The base level of a river or stream is the lowest point to which it can flow, often referred to as the 'mouth' of the river. For large rivers, sea level is usually the base level, but a large river or lake is likewise the base level for tributary streams...

 (its lowest point). This increased the rate of erosion and cut nearly all of the Grand Canyon's current depth by 1.2 million years ago. The terraced walls of the canyon were created by differential erosion.

Between three million and 100,000 years ago, volcanic activity deposited ash
Volcanic ash
Volcanic ash consists of small tephra, which are bits of pulverized rock and glass created by volcanic eruptions, less than in diameter. There are three mechanisms of volcanic ash formation: gas release under decompression causing magmatic eruptions; thermal contraction from chilling on contact...

 and lava
Lava
Lava refers both to molten rock expelled by a volcano during an eruption and the resulting rock after solidification and cooling. This molten rock is formed in the interior of some planets, including Earth, and some of their satellites. When first erupted from a volcanic vent, lava is a liquid at...

 over the area which at times completely obstructed the river. These volcanic rocks are the youngest in the canyon.

Human history



Native Americans



The Ancient Pueblo People were a Native American
Native Americans in the United States
Native Americans in the United States are the indigenous peoples in North America within the boundaries of the present-day continental United States, parts of Alaska, and the island state of Hawaii. They are composed of numerous, distinct tribes, states, and ethnic groups, many of which survive as...

 culture centered on the present-day Four Corners area of the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

. The Ancient Puebloans were the first people to live in the Grand Canyon area. The cultural group has often been referred to in archaeology as the Anasazi, although the term is not preferred by the modern Puebloan peoples. The word "Anasazi" is Navajo
Navajo language
Navajo or Navaho is an Athabaskan language spoken in the southwestern United States. It is geographically and linguistically one of the Southern Athabaskan languages .Navajo has more speakers than any other Native American language north of the...

 for "Ancient Ones" or "Ancient Enemy".

Archaeologists
Archaeology
Archaeology, or archeology , is the study of human society, primarily through the recovery and analysis of the material culture and environmental data that they have left behind, which includes artifacts, architecture, biofacts and cultural landscapes...

 still debate when this distinct culture
Culture
Culture is a term that has many different inter-related meanings. For example, in 1952, Alfred Kroeber and Clyde Kluckhohn compiled a list of 164 definitions of "culture" in Culture: A Critical Review of Concepts and Definitions...

 emerged. The current consensus, based on terminology defined by the Pecos Classification
Pecos Classification
The Pecos Classification is a division of all known Ancient Pueblo Peoples culture into chronological phases, based on changes in architecture, art, pottery, and cultural remains. The original classification dates back to consensus reached at a 1927 archæological conference held in Pecos, New...

, suggests their emergence around 1200 BC
12th century BC
-Overview:The 12th century BC is the period from 1200 to 1101 BC. Although many human societies were literate in this period, most individual persons mentioned in this article ought to be considered legendary rather than historical...

, during the archaeologically designated Basketmaker II Era. Beginning with the earliest explorations and excavations, researchers have believed that the Ancient Puebloans are ancestors of the modern Pueblo people
Pueblo people
The Pueblo people are a Native American people in the Southwestern United States. Their traditional economy is based on agriculture and trade. When first encountered by the Spanish in the 16th century, they were living in villages that the Spanish called pueblos, meaning "towns". Of the 21...

s.

In addition to the Ancestral Puebloans, a number of distinct cultures have inhabited the Grand Canyon area. The Cohonina
Cohonina
The Cohonina peoples inhabited the north-western area of Arizona, to the west of the Grand Canyon in the United States. First identified in 1937 by Lyndon Hargrave, surveying pottery for the Museum of Northern Arizona, they are named for the Hopi term for the Yuman, Havasupai, and Walapai peoples...

 lived to the west of the Grand Canyon, between 500 and 1200 AD. The Cohonina were ancestors of the Yuman, Havasupai, and Walapai peoples who inhabit the area today.

The Sinagua
Sinagua
The Sinagua were a pre-Columbian cultural group occupying an area in central Arizona between the Little Colorado River and the Salt River including the Verde Valley and significant portions of the Mogollon Rim country between approximately 500 AD and 1425 AD.Early Sinagua sites consist of pit houses...

 were a cultural group occupying an area to the southeast of the Grand Canyon, between the Little Colorado River
Little Colorado River
The Little Colorado River is a river in the U.S. state of Arizona, providing the principal drainage from the Painted Desert region. Together with its major tributary, the Puerco River, it drains an area of about in eastern Arizona and western New Mexico...

 and the Salt River
Salt River (Arizona)
The Salt River is a stream in the U.S. state of Arizona. It is the largest tributary of the Gila River. The river is about long. Its drainage basin is about large. The longest of the Salt River's many tributaries is the Verde River...

, between approximately 500 AD and 1425 AD. The Sinagua may have been ancestors of several Hopi
Hopi
The Hopi are a federally recognized tribe of indigenous Native American people, who primarily live on the Hopi Reservation in northeastern Arizona. The Hopi area according to the 2000 census has a population of 6,946 people. Their Hopi language is one of the 30 of the Uto-Aztecan language...

 clans.

By the time of the arrival of Europeans in the 16th century, newer cultures had evolved. The Hualapai
Hualapai
The Hualapai or Walapai are a tribe of Native Americans who live in the mountains of northwestern Arizona, United States. The name is derived from "hwa:l," the Hualapai word for ponderosa pine, "Hualapai" meaning "people of the ponderosa pine"...

 inhabit a 100 miles (160.9 km) stretch along the pine-clad southern side of the Grand Canyon. The Havasupai have been living in the area near Cataract Canyon since 1200 AD, occupying an area the size of Delaware
Delaware
Delaware is a U.S. state located on the Atlantic Coast in the Mid-Atlantic region of the United States. It is bordered to the south and west by Maryland, and to the north by Pennsylvania...

. The Southern Paiute
Paiute
Paiute refers to three closely related groups of Native Americans — the Northern Paiute of California, Idaho, Nevada and Oregon; the Owens Valley Paiute of California and Nevada; and the Southern Paiute of Arizona, southeastern California and Nevada, and Utah.-Origin of name:The origin of...

s live in what is now southern Utah and northern Arizona. The Navajo
Navajo people
The Navajo of the Southwestern United States are the largest single federally recognized tribe of the United States of America. The Navajo Nation has 300,048 enrolled tribal members. The Navajo Nation constitutes an independent governmental body which manages the Navajo Indian reservation in the...

 or Diné, live in a wide area stretching from the San Francisco Peaks
San Francisco Peaks
The San Francisco Peaks are a volcanic mountain range located in north central Arizona, just north of Flagstaff.The highest summit in the range, Humphreys Peak, is the highest point in the state of Arizona at in elevation. The San Francisco Peaks are the remains of an eroded stratovolcano...

 eastwards towards the Four Corners. Archaeological and linguistic evidence suggests the Navajo descended from the Athabaskan people near Great Slave Lake
Great Slave Lake
Great Slave Lake is the second-largest lake in the Northwest Territories of Canada , the deepest lake in North America at , and the ninth-largest lake in the world. It is long and wide. It covers an area of in the southern part of the territory. Its given volume ranges from to and up to ...

, Canada, who migrated after 1000 AD.

Spanish explorers


In September 1540, under orders from the conquistador
Conquistador
Conquistadors were Spanish soldiers, explorers, and adventurers who brought much of the Americas under the control of Spain in the 15th to 16th centuries, following Europe's discovery of the New World by Christopher Columbus in 1492...

 Francisco Vázquez de Coronado to search for the fabled Seven Cities of Cibola, Captain Garcia Lopez de Cardenas
García López de Cárdenas
García López de Cárdenas, , is credited with the first European discovery of the Grand Canyon.- Life :Cárdenas was born in Llerena, Spain, son to Alonso de Cárdenas y doña Elvira de Figueroa and Maria García Osorio. He was the comendador of Caravaca.López de Cárdenas was conquistador attached to...

, along with Hopi
Hopi
The Hopi are a federally recognized tribe of indigenous Native American people, who primarily live on the Hopi Reservation in northeastern Arizona. The Hopi area according to the 2000 census has a population of 6,946 people. Their Hopi language is one of the 30 of the Uto-Aztecan language...

 guides and a small group of Spanish soldiers, traveled to the South Rim of the Grand Canyon between Desert View and Moran Point. Pablo de Melgrossa, Juan Galeras, and a third soldier descended some one third of the way into the Canyon until they were forced to return because of lack of water. In their report, they noted that some of the rocks in the Canyon were "bigger than the great tower of Seville." It is speculated that their Hopi guides must have been reluctant to lead them to the river, since they must have known routes to the canyon floor. Afterwards, no Europeans visited the Canyon for over two hundred years.

Fathers Francisco Atanasio Domínguez and Silvestre Vélez de Escalante were two Spanish priests who, with a group of Spanish soldiers, explored southern Utah
Utah
Utah is a state in the Western United States. It was the 45th state to join the Union, on January 4, 1896. Approximately 80% of Utah's 2,763,885 people live along the Wasatch Front, centering on Salt Lake City. This leaves vast expanses of the state nearly uninhabited, making the population the...

 and traveled along the North Rim of the Canyon in Glen and Marble Canyons in search of a route from Santa Fe
Santa Fe, New Mexico
Santa Fe is the capital of the U.S. state of New Mexico. It is the fourth-largest city in the state and is the seat of . Santa Fe had a population of 67,947 in the 2010 census...

 to California
California
California is a state located on the West Coast of the United States. It is by far the most populous U.S. state, and the third-largest by land area...

 in 1776. They eventually found a crossing that today lies under Lake Powell
Lake Powell
Lake Powell is a huge reservoir on the Colorado River, straddling the border between Utah and Arizona . It is the second largest man-made reservoir in the United States behind Lake Mead, storing of water when full...

.

Also in 1776, Fray Francisco Garces, a Franciscan missionary, spent a week near Havasupai, unsuccessfully attempting to convert a band of Native Americans to Christianity. He described the Canyon as "profound".

American exploration



James Ohio Pattie, along with a group of American trappers and mountain men, may have been the next European to reach the Canyon in 1826.

Jacob Hamblin
Jacob Hamblin
Jacob Vernon Hamblin was a Western pioneer, Mormon missionary, and diplomat to various Native American Tribes of the Southwest and Great Basin. During his life, he helped settle large areas of southern Utah and northern Arizona where he was seen as an honest broker between Mormon settlers and the...

, (a Mormon
Mormon
The term Mormon most commonly denotes an adherent, practitioner, follower, or constituent of Mormonism, which is the largest branch of the Latter Day Saint movement in restorationist Christianity...

 missionary), was sent by Brigham Young
Brigham Young
Brigham Young was an American leader in the Latter Day Saint movement and a settler of the Western United States. He was the President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints from 1847 until his death in 1877, he founded Salt Lake City, and he served as the first governor of the Utah...

 in the 1850s to locate easy river crossing sites in the Canyon. Building good relations with local Native Americans
Native Americans in the United States
Native Americans in the United States are the indigenous peoples in North America within the boundaries of the present-day continental United States, parts of Alaska, and the island state of Hawaii. They are composed of numerous, distinct tribes, states, and ethnic groups, many of which survive as...

 and white settlers, he discovered the Crossing of the Fathers, Lee's Ferry
Lee's Ferry
Lee's Ferry is a site on the Colorado River in Coconino County, Arizona, United States, about 7.5 miles southwest of the town of Page, Arizona and the Glen Canyon Dam, and about 9 mi south of the Utah-Arizona border. It is the former location of a ferry established by John D. Lee, a Mormon...

 in 1858 and Pierce Ferry (later operated by, and named for, Harrison Pierce) – the latter two the only two sites suitable for ferry operation. He also acted as an advisor to John Wesley Powell
John Wesley Powell
John Wesley Powell was a U.S. soldier, geologist, explorer of the American West, and director of major scientific and cultural institutions...

 before his second expedition to the Grand Canyon, serving as a diplomat between Powell and the local native tribes to ensure the safety of his party.

In 1857, Edward Fitzgerald Beale
Edward Fitzgerald Beale
Edward Fitzgerald "Ned" Beale was a national figure in 19th century America. He was naval officer, military general, explorer, frontiersman, Indian affairs superintendent, California rancher, diplomat, and friend of Kit Carson, Buffalo Bill Cody and Ulysses S. Grant...

 was superintendent of an expedition to survey a wagon road along the 35th parallel from Fort Defiance, Arizona
Fort Defiance, Arizona
Fort Defiance is a census-designated place in Apache County, Arizona, United States. The population was 4,061 at the 2000 census.- History :...

 to the Colorado River. He led a small party of men in search of water on the Coconino Plateau
Coconino Plateau
The Coconino Plateau is found south of the Grand Canyon and north—northwest of Flagstaff, in northern Arizona of the Southwestern United States.-Geography:...

 near the Canyon's South Rim. On September 19, near present day National Canyon, they came upon what May Humphreys Stacey described in his journal as "...a wonderful canyon four thousand feet deep. Everyone (in the party) admitted that he never before saw anything to match or equal this astonishing natural curiosity."

Also in 1857, the U.S. War Department
United States Department of War
The United States Department of War, also called the War Department , was the United States Cabinet department originally responsible for the operation and maintenance of the United States Army...

 asked Lieutenant Joseph Ives to lead an expedition to assess the feasibility of an up-river navigation from the Gulf of California. Also in a stern wheeler steamboat "Explorer", after two months and 350 miles (560 km) of difficult navigation, his party reached Black Canyon some two months after George Johnson. The "Explorer" struck a rock and was abandoned. Ives led his party east into the Canyon — they may have been the first Europeans to travel the Diamond Creek drainage and traveled eastwards along the South Rim. In his "Colorado River of the West" report to the Senate in 1861 he states that "One or two trappers profess to have seen the canon."


According to the San Francisco Herald, in a series of articles run in 1853, they give this honor to Captain Joseph R. Walker, who in January 1851 with his nephew James T. Walker and six men, traveled up the Colorado River to a point where it joined the Virgin River and continued east into Arizona, traveling along the Grand Canyon and making short exploratory side trips along the way.

Walker said he wanted to visit the Moqui Indians, as the Hopi were then called by whites. He had met these people briefly in previous years, thought them exceptionally interesting and wanted to become better acquainted. The Herald reporter took it from there, writing: "We believe that Capt. Joe Walker is the only white man in this country that has ever visited this strange people."

In 1858, John Strong Newberry
John Strong Newberry
John Strong Newberry was a American geologist, physician, explorer, author, and a member of the Megatherium Club at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C....

 became probably the first geologist to visit the Grand Canyon.

In 1869, Major John Wesley Powell
John Wesley Powell
John Wesley Powell was a U.S. soldier, geologist, explorer of the American West, and director of major scientific and cultural institutions...

 led the first expedition down the Grand Canyon. Powell set out to explore the Colorado River
Colorado River
The Colorado River , is a river in the Southwestern United States and northwestern Mexico, approximately long, draining a part of the arid regions on the western slope of the Rocky Mountains. The watershed of the Colorado River covers in parts of seven U.S. states and two Mexican states...

 and the Grand Canyon. Gathering nine men, four boats and food for 10 months, he set out from Green River, Wyoming
Green River, Wyoming
Green River is a city in and the county seat of Sweetwater County, Wyoming, United States, in the southwestern part of the state. The population was 11,808 at the 2000 census....

 on May 24. Passing through dangerous rapids, the group passed down the Green River to its confluence
Confluence
Confluence, in geography, describes the meeting of two or more bodies of water.Confluence may also refer to:* Confluence , a property of term rewriting systems...

 with the Colorado River, near present-day Moab, Utah
Moab, Utah
Moab is a city in Grand County, in eastern Utah, in the western United States. The population was 4,779 at the 2000 census. It is the county seat and largest city in Grand County. Moab hosts a large number of tourists every year, mostly visitors to the nearby Arches and Canyonlands National Parks...

 and completed the journey with many hardships through the Grand Canyon on August 13, 1869.

In 1889, Frank M. Brown wanted to build a railroad along the Colorado River to carry coal. He, his chief engineer Robert Brewster Stanton, and 14 others started to explore the Grand Canyon in poorly-designed cedar wood
Cedar wood
Cedar wood comes from several different trees that grow in different parts of the world, and may have different uses.* California incense-cedar, from Calocedrus decurrens, is the primary type of wood used for making pencils...

 boats, with no life preservers. Brown drowned in an accident near Marble Canyon
Marble Canyon
Marble Canyon is the section of the Colorado River canyon in northern Arizona from Lee's Ferry to the confluence with the Little Colorado River, which marks the beginning of the Grand Canyon....

: Stanton made new boats and proceeded to explore the Colorado all of the way to the Gulf of California
Gulf of California
The Gulf of California is a body of water that separates the Baja California Peninsula from the Mexican mainland...

.

In 1908, the Grand Canyon became an official national monument and became a national park in 1919.

Settlers in and near the canyon

  • Miners: "Captain" John Hance
    John Hance
    John Hance is thought to be the first non-Native American resident of the Grand Canyon. He opened the first tourist trail in the Canyon in the late nineteenth century. He started giving tours of the canyon after his attempts at mining asbestos failed, largely due to the expense of removing the...

    , William W. Bass, Louis Boucher
    Louis Boucher
    Louis Boucher was a miner, explorer and a guide in the Grand Canyon, Arizona. The dates of his birth and even his death are unknown. He came to the Canyon in around 1889 and mined copper along the creek that bears his name until 1912. A site, Hermit Rest), a trail Louis Boucher was a miner,...

     "The Hermit", Seth Tanner
    Seth Tanner
    Seth Tanner was a Mormon settler who established the Tanner Trail in the Grand Canyon National Park.-Life:Seth's full name was Seth Benjamin Tanner. He was one of John Tanner's 21 children. He was born in Bolton, New York, and was with his father's family as they were driven across the U.S. from...

    , Charles Spencer, D. W. "James" Mooney
    D. W. Mooney
    D. W. "James" Mooney was a miner and an early explorer of the Grand Canyon. He fell to his death at Mooney Falls, a 210ft waterfall on the Havasupai Reservation in the Grand Canyon.-References:*...

  • Lees Ferry: John Doyle Lee, Emma Lee French
    Emma Lee French
    Emma Louise Batchelor Lee French , better known as Emma Lee French, was a British woman, born in Uckfield, East Sussex who travelled to Utah and Arizona, in the United States, where she became well known as a carer for the sick.- Trek :After being converted by the Mormons, Emma Lee arrived in...

     (17th of John Lee's 19 wives), J. S. Emmett, Charles Spencer
  • Phantom Ranch: David Rust, Mary Colter
    Mary Colter
    Mary Elizabeth Jane Colter was an American architect and designer. As a child, Mary Colter traveled with her family through frontier Minnesota, Colorado and Texas in the years after the American Civil War. After her father died in 1886, Colter attended the California School of Design in San...

  • Grand Canyon Village: Ralph H. Cameron
    Ralph H. Cameron
    Ralph Henry Cameron was an American Republican politician, and a delegate and Senator from the state of Arizona. He died while on a business trip to Washington, D.C...


Federal protection


U.S. President
President of the United States
The President of the United States of America is the head of state and head of government of the United States. The president leads the executive branch of the federal government and is the commander-in-chief of the United States Armed Forces....

 Theodore Roosevelt
Theodore Roosevelt
Theodore "Teddy" Roosevelt was the 26th President of the United States . He is noted for his exuberant personality, range of interests and achievements, and his leadership of the Progressive Movement, as well as his "cowboy" persona and robust masculinity...

 visited the Grand Canyon in 1903. An avid outdoorsman and staunch conservationist, he established the Grand Canyon Game Preserve on November 28, 1906. Livestock grazing
Grazing
Grazing generally describes a type of feeding, in which a herbivore feeds on plants , and also on other multicellular autotrophs...

 was reduced, but predators such as mountain lions, eagle
Eagle
Eagles are members of the bird family Accipitridae, and belong to several genera which are not necessarily closely related to each other. Most of the more than 60 species occur in Eurasia and Africa. Outside this area, just two species can be found in the United States and Canada, nine more in...

s, and wolves were eradicated. Roosevelt added adjacent national forest
United States National Forest
National Forest is a classification of federal lands in the United States.National Forests are largely forest and woodland areas owned by the federal government and managed by the United States Forest Service, part of the United States Department of Agriculture. Land management of these areas...

 lands and redesignated the preserve a U.S. National Monument
U.S. National Monument
A National Monument in the United States is a protected area that is similar to a National Park except that the President of the United States can quickly declare an area of the United States to be a National Monument without the approval of Congress. National monuments receive less funding and...

 on January 11, 1908. Opponents such as land and mining claim holders blocked efforts to reclassify the monument as a U.S. National Park for 11 years. Grand Canyon National Park was finally established as the 17th U.S. National Park by an Act of Congress signed into law by President Woodrow Wilson
Woodrow Wilson
Thomas Woodrow Wilson was the 28th President of the United States, from 1913 to 1921. A leader of the Progressive Movement, he served as President of Princeton University from 1902 to 1910, and then as the Governor of New Jersey from 1911 to 1913...

 on February 26, 1919.

The federal government administrators who manage park resources face many challenges. These include issues related to the recent reintroduction into the wild of the highly endangered California condor
California Condor
The California Condor is a New World vulture, the largest North American land bird. Currently, this condor inhabits only the Grand Canyon area, Zion National Park, and coastal mountains of central and southern California and northern Baja California...

, air tour overflight noise levels, water rights disputes with various tribal reservations that border the park, and forest fire management. The Grand Canyon National Park superintendent is Steve Martin. Martin was named superintendent on February 5, 2007, to replace retiring superintendent Joe Alston. Martin was previously the National Park Service Deputy Director and superintendent of several other national parks, including Denali and Grand Teton
Grand Teton National Park
Grand Teton National Park is a United States National Park located in northwestern Wyoming, U.S. The Park consists of approximately and includes the major peaks of the long Teton Range as well as most of the northern sections of the valley known as Jackson Hole. Only south of Yellowstone...

. Federal officials started a flood in the Grand Canyon in hopes of restoring its ecosystem
Ecosystem
An ecosystem is a biological environment consisting of all the organisms living in a particular area, as well as all the nonliving , physical components of the environment with which the organisms interact, such as air, soil, water and sunlight....

 on March 5, 2008. The canyon's ecosystem was permanently changed after the construction of the Glen Canyon Dam
Glen Canyon Dam
Glen Canyon Dam is a concrete arch dam on the Colorado River in northern Arizona in the United States, just north of Page. The dam was built to provide hydroelectricity and flow regulation from the upper Colorado River Basin to the lower. Its reservoir is called Lake Powell, and is the second...

 in 1963.

Between 2003 and 2011, 2,215 mining claims have been requested that are adjacent to the Canyon, including claims for uranium
Uranium
Uranium is a silvery-white metallic chemical element in the actinide series of the periodic table, with atomic number 92. It is assigned the chemical symbol U. A uranium atom has 92 protons and 92 electrons, of which 6 are valence electrons...

 mines. Mining has been suspended since 2009, when U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar
Ken Salazar
Kenneth Lee "Ken" Salazar is the current United States Secretary of the Interior, in the administration of President Barack Obama. A member of the Democratic Party, he previously served as a United States Senator from Colorado from 2005 to 2009. He and Mel Martinez were the first Hispanic U.S...

 temporarily withdrew 1 million acres (4,046.9 km²) from the permitting process, pending assessment of the environmental impact of mining. Critics of the mines are concerned that, once mined, the uranium will leach into the water of the Colorado River and contaminate the water supply for up to 18 million people.

South Rim buildings


There are several historical buildings located along the South Rim with most in the vicinity of Grand Canyon Village.
  • Buckey O'Neill Cabin
    Buckey O'Neill Cabin
    The Buckey O'Neill Cabin was built in 1890 by William "Buckey" O'Neill in what would become Grand Canyon National Park. O'Neill was, among many other things, a member of Theodore Roosevelt's Rough Riders, who had previously been an author and a judge in his native Arizona...

     was built during the 1890s by William Owen "Buckey" O'Neill. He built the cabin because of a copper deposit that was nearby. He had several occupations such as miner, judge, politician, author and tour guide. This cabin is the longest continually standing structure in the South Rim. It is currently used as a guest house; booking is required well in advance.

  • Kolb Studio was built in 1904 by brothers Ellsworth and Emery Kolb. They were photographers who made a living by photographing visitors walking down the Bright Angel Trail
    Bright Angel Trail
    The Bright Angel Trail is a hiking trail located in Grand Canyon National Park in the U.S. state of Arizona.-Access:The trail is accessed by the mule corral, as seen here:-Description:...

    . In 1911, the Kolb brothers filmed their journey down the Green
    Green River (Utah)
    The Green River, located in the western United States, is the chief tributary of the Colorado River. The watershed of the river, known as the Green River Basin, covers parts of Wyoming, Utah, and Colorado. The Green River is long, beginning in the Wind River Mountains of Wyoming and flowing...

     and Colorado River
    Colorado River
    The Colorado River , is a river in the Southwestern United States and northwestern Mexico, approximately long, draining a part of the arid regions on the western slope of the Rocky Mountains. The watershed of the Colorado River covers in parts of seven U.S. states and two Mexican states...

    s. Emery Kolb showed this movie regularly in his studio until 1976, when he died at the age of 95. Today the building serves as an art gallery and exhibit.

  • The El Tovar Hotel
    El Tovar Hotel
    The El Tovar Hotel, also known simply as El Tovar, is a former Harvey House hotel situated directly on the south rim of the Grand Canyon in Arizona, USA...

     was built in 1905 and is the most luxurious lodging on the South Rim. The hotel consists of 4 stories with a rustic chalet appearance. It was designed by Charles Whittlesley. A gift shop and restaurant are located inside the hotel.

  • Hopi House
    Hopi House
    Hopi House is located on the South Rim of the Grand Canyon, within Grand Canyon National Park in the U.S. state of Arizona. Built in 1905 as concessioner facilities at the South Rim were being developed, it is the first of of six buildings at the Grand Canyon that were designed by architect Mary...

     was built by Mary Jane Colter in 1905. It is based on structures that were built in an ancient Hopi settlement called Old Oraibi
    Oraibi
    Oraibi, also referred to as Old Oraibi, is a Hopi village in Navajo County, Arizona, United States, in the northeastern part of the state. Known as Orayvi by the native inhabitants, it is located on Third Mesa on the Hopi Reservation near Kykotsmovi Village...

    , located on the Third Mesa in eastern Arizona. It served as a residence for the Hopi Indians who sold arts and crafts to visitors in the South Rim.

  • Verkamp's Curios, which stands next to the Hopi House, was built by John Verkamp
    John Verkamp
    John Verkamp is a veteran and former Republican state senator who ran for the United States Senate in Arizona as a Democrat in 2006.-Biography:...

     in 1905. He sold arts and crafts as well as souvenirs. Until September 2008, it was run by his descendants; in November 2008 the building reopened as a visitor center focusing on the history of the Grand Canyon Village community.


  • Grand Canyon Railway Depot was built in 1909 and contains 2 levels. Gordon Chappell, Regional Historian for the Park Service, claims that this depot building is one of only three log-cabin-style train stations currently standing out of fourteen ever built in the U.S. The depot is the northern terminus of the Grand Canyon Railway
    Grand Canyon Railway
    The Grand Canyon Railway , is a passenger railroad which operates between Williams, Arizona, and Grand Canyon National Park South Rim.-Santa Fe Ownership:...

     which begins in Williams, Arizona
    Williams, Arizona
    Williams is a city in Coconino County, Arizona, United States west of Flagstaff. Its population was 2,842 at the 2000 census; according to 2006 Census Bureau estimates, the population of the city is 3,094. It lies on the route of Historic Route 66, Interstate 40, and the Southwest Chief Amtrak...

    .

  • Lookout Studio
    Lookout Studio
    Lookout Studio, known also as The Lookout, is a stone building located on the South Rim of the Grand Canyon, within Grand Canyon National Park in Arizona. It is part of the Grand Canyon Village Historic District, and is part of the Mary Jane Colter Buildings National Historic Landmark...

     was built in 1914 and is another structure that was designed by Mary Colter. Photography artwork, books, souvenirs, and rock and fossil specimens are sold here. A great view of Bright Angel Trail can be seen here.

  • Desert View Watchtower
    Desert View Watchtower
    Desert View Watchtower, also known as the Indian Watchtower at Desert View, is a -high stone building located on the South Rim of the Grand Canyon within Grand Canyon National Park in Arizona, United States. The tower is located at Desert View, more than to the east of the main developed area at...

     was built in 1932 and is one of Mary Colter's best-known works. Situated at the far eastern end of the South Rim, 27 miles (43 km) from Grand Canyon Village, the tower sits on a 7,400 foot (2,256 m) promontory. It offers one of the few views of the bottom of the Canyon and the Colorado River. It is designed to mimic an Anasazi watchtower though it is larger than existing ones.

  • Bright Angel Lodge was built of logs and stone in 1935. Mary Colter
    Mary Colter
    Mary Elizabeth Jane Colter was an American architect and designer. As a child, Mary Colter traveled with her family through frontier Minnesota, Colorado and Texas in the years after the American Civil War. After her father died in 1886, Colter attended the California School of Design in San...

     designed the lodge and it was built by Fred Harvey. Inside the lodge is a small museum honoring Fred Harvey, who played a major role in popularizing the Grand Canyon. In the History Room is a fireplace that is made of stone from the South Rim that is layered in the same sequence as in the canyon.

Weather



Weather in the Grand Canyon varies according to elevation. The forested rims are high enough to receive winter snowfall, but along the Colorado River in the Inner Gorge, temperatures are similar to those found in Tucson and other low elevation desert locations in Arizona. Conditions in the Grand Canyon region are generally dry, but substantial precipitation
Precipitation (meteorology)
In meteorology, precipitation In meteorology, precipitation In meteorology, precipitation (also known as one of the classes of hydrometeors, which are atmospheric water phenomena is any product of the condensation of atmospheric water vapor that falls under gravity. The main forms of precipitation...

 occurs twice annually, during seasonal pattern shifts in winter (when Pacific storms usually deliver widespread, moderate rain and high-elevation snow to the region from the west) and in late summer (due to the North American Monsoon
North American Monsoon
The North American monsoon, variously known as the Southwest United States monsoon, the Mexican monsoon, or the Arizona monsoon, is experienced as a pronounced increase in rainfall from an extremely dry June to a rainy July over large areas of the southwestern United States and northwestern Mexico...

, which delivers waves of moisture from the southeast, causing dramatic, localized thunderstorms fueled by the heat of the day). Average annual precipitation on the South Rim is less than 16 inches (35 cm), with 60 inches (132 cm) of snow, the higher North Rim usually receives 27 inches (59 cm) of moisture, with a typical snowfall of 144 inches (317 cm), and Phantom Ranch, far below the Canyon's rims along the Colorado River at 2,500 feet (762 m) gets just 8 inches (17.6 cm) of rain, and snow is a rarity. The weather is different on the north rim and south rim.
Temperatures vary wildly throughout the year, with summer highs within the Inner Gorge commonly exceeding 100 °F (37.8 °C) and winter minimum temperatures sometimes falling below zero degrees Fahrenheit
Fahrenheit
Fahrenheit is the temperature scale proposed in 1724 by, and named after, the German physicist Daniel Gabriel Fahrenheit . Within this scale, the freezing of water into ice is defined at 32 degrees, while the boiling point of water is defined to be 212 degrees...

 (−17.8 °C) along the canyon's rims. Visitors are often surprised by these potentially extreme conditions, and this, along with the high altitude of the canyon's rims, can lead to unpleasant side effects such as dehydration
Dehydration
In physiology and medicine, dehydration is defined as the excessive loss of body fluid. It is literally the removal of water from an object; however, in physiological terms, it entails a deficiency of fluid within an organism...

, sunburn
Sunburn
A sunburn is a burn to living tissue, such as skin, which is produced by overexposure to ultraviolet radiation, commonly from the sun's rays. Usual mild symptoms in humans and other animals include red or reddish skin that is hot to the touch, general fatigue, and mild dizziness. An excess of UV...

, and hypothermia
Hypothermia
Hypothermia is a condition in which core temperature drops below the required temperature for normal metabolism and body functions which is defined as . Body temperature is usually maintained near a constant level of through biologic homeostasis or thermoregulation...

.

Weather conditions can greatly affect hiking and canyon exploration, and visitors should obtain accurate forecasts because of hazards posed by exposure to extreme temperatures, winter storms and late summer monsoons. While the park service posts weather information at gates and visitor centers, this is a rough approximation only, and should not be relied upon for trip planning. For accurate weather in the Canyon, hikers should consult the National Weather Service's NOAA weather radio or the official National Weather Service
National Weather Service
The National Weather Service , once known as the Weather Bureau, is one of the six scientific agencies that make up the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration of the United States government...

 website.

The National Weather Service
National Weather Service
The National Weather Service , once known as the Weather Bureau, is one of the six scientific agencies that make up the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration of the United States government...

 has had a cooperative station on the South Rim since 1903. The record high temperature on the South Rim was 105°F on June 26, 1974, and the record low temperature was −20°F on January 1, 1919, February 1, 1985, and December 23, 1990.

Air pollution



The Grand Canyon has suffered some problems with air pollution
Air pollution
Air pollution is the introduction of chemicals, particulate matter, or biological materials that cause harm or discomfort to humans or other living organisms, or cause damage to the natural environment or built environment, into the atmosphere....

, attributed to the nearby Navajo Generating Station
Navajo Generating Station
Navajo Generating Station is a 2250 megawatt coal-fired powerplant located on the Navajo Indian Reservation, near Page, Arizona, USA. This plant provides electrical power to customers in Arizona, Nevada, and California...

, a coal-burning power plant. In 1991 an agreement was reached with the Navajo Generating Station in Page, Arizona
Page, Arizona
Page is a city in Coconino County, Arizona, United States, near the Glen Canyon Dam and Lake Powell. According to 2005 Census Bureau estimates, the population of the city is 6,794.-Geography:Page is located at ....

, to add air pollution control devices to their smokestacks.

Plants


There are approximately 1,737 known species of vascular plant
Vascular plant
Vascular plants are those plants that have lignified tissues for conducting water, minerals, and photosynthetic products through the plant. Vascular plants include the clubmosses, Equisetum, ferns, gymnosperms and angiosperms...

s, 167 species of fungi, 64 species of moss
Moss
Mosses are small, soft plants that are typically 1–10 cm tall, though some species are much larger. They commonly grow close together in clumps or mats in damp or shady locations. They do not have flowers or seeds, and their simple leaves cover the thin wiry stems...

 and 195 species of lichen
Lichen
Lichens are composite organisms consisting of a symbiotic organism composed of a fungus with a photosynthetic partner , usually either a green alga or cyanobacterium...

 found in Grand Canyon National Park. This variety is largely due to the 8,000 foot elevation change from the Colorado River up to the highest point on the North Rim. Grand Canyon boasts a dozen endemic plants (known only within the Park's boundaries) while only ten percent of the Park's flora is exotic. Sixty-three plants found here have been given special status by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

The Mojave Desert
Mojave Desert
The Mojave Desert occupies a significant portion of southeastern California and smaller parts of central California, southern Nevada, southwestern Utah and northwestern Arizona, in the United States...

 influences the western sections of the canyon, Sonoran Desert
Sonoran Desert
The Sonoran Desert is a North American desert which straddles part of the United States-Mexico border and covers large parts of the U.S. states of Arizona and California and the northwest Mexican states of Sonora, Baja California, and Baja California Sur. It is one of the largest and hottest...

 vegetation covers the eastern sections, and ponderosa
Ponderosa Pine
Pinus ponderosa, commonly known as the Ponderosa Pine, Bull Pine, Blackjack Pine, or Western Yellow Pine, is a widespread and variable pine native to western North America. It was first described by David Douglas in 1826, from eastern Washington near present-day Spokane...

 and pinyon pine
Pinyon pine
The pinyon pine group grows in the southwestern United States and in Mexico. The trees yield edible pinyon nuts, which were a staple of the Native Americans, and are still widely eaten...

 forests grow on both rims.

Natural seeps and springs percolating out of the canyon walls are home to 11% of all the plant
Plant
Plants are living organisms belonging to the kingdom Plantae. Precise definitions of the kingdom vary, but as the term is used here, plants include familiar organisms such as trees, flowers, herbs, bushes, grasses, vines, ferns, mosses, and green algae. The group is also called green plants or...

 species found in the Grand Canyon. The Canyon itself can act as a connection between the east and the west by providing corridors of appropriate habitat along its length. The canyon can also be a genetic barrier to some species, like the Tassel-eared squirrel
Abert's Squirrel
Abert's squirrel is a tree squirrel in the genus Sciurus endemic to the Rocky Mountains from United States to Mexico, with concentrations found in Arizona, The Grand Canyon, New Mexico, and southwestern Colorado.-Etymology:The Abert's squirrel is named after Colonel John James Abert, an American...

.

The aspect, or direction a slope faces, also plays a major role in adding diversity to the Grand Canyon. North-facing slopes receive about one-third the normal amount of sunlight, so plants growing there are similar to plants found at higher elevations, or in more northern latitudes. The south-facing slopes receive the full amount of sunlight and are covered in vegetation typical of the Sonoran Desert.

Animals


Of the 34 mammal species found along the Colorado River corridor, 15 are rodents and eight are bats.

Life zones and communities


The Park contains several major ecosystems. Its great biological diversity can be attributed to the presence of five of the seven life zone
Life zone
The Life Zone concept was developed by C. Hart Merriam in 1889 as a means of describing areas with similar plant and animal communities. Merriam observed that the changes in these communities with an increase in latitude at a constant elevation are similar to the changes seen with an increase in...

s and three of the four desert types in North America. The five life zones represented are the Lower Sonoran, Upper Sonoran, Transition, Canadian, and Hudsonian. This is equivalent to traveling from Mexico to Canada. Differences in elevation and the resulting variations in climate are the major factors that form the various life zones and communities in and around the canyon. Grand Canyon National Park contains 129 vegetation communities, and the composition and distribution of plant species is influenced by climate, geomorphology and geology.

Lower Sonoran


The Lower Sonoran life zone spans from the Colorado River up to 3500 feet. Along the Colorado River and its perennial tributaries, a riparian community exists. Coyote willow
Salix exigua
Salix exigua Salix exigua Salix exigua (Sandbar Willow, Narrowleaf Willow, or Coyote Willow; syn. S. argophylla, S. hindsiana, S. interior, S. linearifolia, S. luteosericea, S. malacophylla, S. nevadensis, S...

, arrowweed, seep-willow
Baccharis salicifolia
Baccharis salicifolia is a flowering shrub native to the desert southwest of the United States and northern Mexico, as well as parts of South America. Its usual common name is mule fat; it is also called seepwillow or water-wally. This is a large bush with sticky foliage which bears plentiful...

, western honey mesquite, catclaw acacia
Acacia greggii
Acacia greggii is a species of Acacia native to the southwestern United States and northern Mexico, from the extreme south of Utah south through southern Nevada, southeast California, Arizona, New Mexico and western Texas to Baja California, Sinaloa and Nuevo León in...

, and exotic tamarisk (saltcedar) are the predominant species. Hanging gardens, seeps and springs often contain rare plants such as the white-flowering western redbud
Cercis occidentalis
Cercis occidentalis, the western redbud is a small tree or shrub in the legume family. It is found across the American Southwest, from California to Utah....

, stream orchid
Epipactis gigantea
Epipactis gigantea is a species of orchid known by the common names stream orchid and giant helleborine. This wildflower is native to western North America from western Canada to central Mexico...

, and McDougall's flaveria
Flaveria
Flaveria is a genus of plants in the sunflower family. They are sometimes called yellowtops. Some are annual or perennial herbs and some are shrubs. They bear yellow flowers. These plants are found in the Americas, Asia, Africa, and Australia. Some members of this genus exhibit C3 carbon fixation,...

. Endangered fish in the river include the humpback chub
Humpback chub
The humpback chub Gila cypha, is a federally protected fish that lived originally in fast waters of the Colorado River system in the United States. This species takes its name from the prominent hump between the head and dorsal fin, which is thought to direct the flow of water over the body and...

 and the razorback sucker
Razorback sucker
The razorback sucker, Xyrauchen texanus, is an endangered fresh water sucker of rivers in the Colorado River drainage of western North America.-Description:...

.

The three most common amphibians in these riparian communities are the canyon tree frog
Hyla arenicolor
The Canyon Tree Frog is a species of tree frog native to the rocky plateau areas of southern United States, primarily in the states of New Mexico and Arizona, but it also ranges to neighboring states of Utah, Texas and Colorado, and as far south as the Mexican states of Michoacán, México,...

, red-spotted toad, and Woodhouse’s Rocky Mountain toad
Rocky Mountain Toad
The Rocky Mountain Toad is a subspecies of Woodhouse's Toad. It can be identified by its light middorsal stripe, prominent cranial crests, and elongate parotoid glands. The spots contain one to several warts...

. Leopard frog
Leopard frog
Leopard frogs, also called meadow frogs, are the archetypal "grass frogs" of North America, a collection of about 14 species within the true frog genus Rana. They are generally very similar, green with prominent black spotting...

s are very rare in the Colorado River corridor, and are known to exist at only a few sites. There are 33 crustacean species found in the Colorado River and its tributaries within Grand Canyon National Park. Of these 33, 16 are considered true zooplankton organisms.

Only 48 bird species regularly nest along the river, while others use the river as a migration corridor or as overwintering habitat. The bald eagle
Bald Eagle
The Bald Eagle is a bird of prey found in North America. It is the national bird and symbol of the United States of America. This sea eagle has two known sub-species and forms a species pair with the White-tailed Eagle...

 is one species that uses the river corridor as winter habitat.

River otters may have disappeared from the park in late 20th century, and muskrat
Muskrat
The muskrat , the only species in genus Ondatra, is a medium-sized semi-aquatic rodent native to North America, and introduced in parts of Europe, Asia, and South America. The muskrat is found in wetlands and is a very successful animal over a wide range of climates and habitats...

s are extremely rare. Beaver
Beaver
The beaver is a primarily nocturnal, large, semi-aquatic rodent. Castor includes two extant species, North American Beaver and Eurasian Beaver . Beavers are known for building dams, canals, and lodges . They are the second-largest rodent in the world...

s cut willows, cottonwoods, and shrubs for food, and can significantly affect the riparian vegetation. Other rodents, such as antelope squirrel
Antelope squirrel
The antelope squirrels or antelope ground squirrels are the genus Ammospermophilus of sciurids found in the southwestern United States and northern Mexico....

s and pocket mice, are mostly omnivorous, using many different vegetation types. Grand Canyon bats typically roost in desert uplands, but forage on the abundance of insects along the river and its tributaries. In addition to bats, coyote
Coyote
The coyote , also known as the American jackal or the prairie wolf, is a species of canine found throughout North and Central America, ranging from Panama in the south, north through Mexico, the United States and Canada...

s, ringtails
Ring-tailed Cat
The ringtail is a mammal of the raccoon family , native to arid regions of North America. It is also known as the ringtail cat, ring-tailed cat or miner's cat, and is also sometimes mistakenly called a "civet cat"...

, and spotted skunk
Spotted Skunk
The Eastern Spotted Skunk is smaller and more weasel-like than the striped skunk. The spotted skunks are faster and more agile than the striped skunks and they have better pelts. For the last 100 years, the Eastern Spotted Skunk was bred for its fine silky fur...

s are the most numerous riparian predators and prey on invertebrates, rodents, and reptiles.

Raccoon
Raccoon
Procyon is a genus of nocturnal mammals, comprising three species commonly known as raccoons, in the family Procyonidae. The most familiar species, the common raccoon , is often known simply as "the" raccoon, as the two other raccoon species in the genus are native only to the tropics and are...

s, weasel
Weasel
Weasels are mammals forming the genus Mustela of the Mustelidae family. They are small, active predators, long and slender with short legs....

s, bobcat
Bobcat
The bobcat is a North American mammal of the cat family Felidae, appearing during the Irvingtonian stage of around 1.8 million years ago . With twelve recognized subspecies, it ranges from southern Canada to northern Mexico, including most of the continental United States...

s, gray fox
Gray Fox
The gray fox is a mammal of the order Carnivora ranging throughout most of the southern half of North America from southern Canada to the northern part of South America...

es, and mountain lions are also present, but are much more rare. Mule deer and desert bighorn sheep are the ungulates that frequent the river corridor. Since the removal of 500 feral burros in the early 1980s, bighorn sheep numbers have rebounded. Mule deer are generally not permanent residents along the river, but travel down from the rim when food and water resources there become scarce.

The insect species commonly found in the river corridor and tributaries are midge
Midge
A midge is a very small, two-winged flying insect. "Midge" may also refer to:-Real:* Midge Costanza , American politician* Mildred Gillars , aka "Midge", American broadcaster of Nazi propaganda during World War II...

s, caddis flies, mayflies
Mayfly
Mayflies are insects which belong to the Order Ephemeroptera . They have been placed into an ancient group of insects termed the Palaeoptera, which also contains dragonflies and damselflies...

, stoneflies, black flies
Black fly
A black fly is any member of the family Simuliidae of the Culicomorpha infraorder. They are related to the Ceratopogonidae, Chironomidae, and Thaumaleidae. There are over 1,800 known species of black flies . Most species belong to the immense genus Simulium...

, mite
Mite
Mites, along with ticks, are small arthropods belonging to the subclass Acari and the class Arachnida. The scientific discipline devoted to the study of ticks and mites is called acarology.-Diversity and systematics:...

s, beetle
Beetle
Coleoptera is an order of insects commonly called beetles. The word "coleoptera" is from the Greek , koleos, "sheath"; and , pteron, "wing", thus "sheathed wing". Coleoptera contains more species than any other order, constituting almost 25% of all known life-forms...

s, butterflies
Butterfly
A butterfly is a mainly day-flying insect of the order Lepidoptera, which includes the butterflies and moths. Like other holometabolous insects, the butterfly's life cycle consists of four parts: egg, larva, pupa and adult. Most species are diurnal. Butterflies have large, often brightly coloured...

, moth
Moth
A moth is an insect closely related to the butterfly, both being of the order Lepidoptera. Moths form the majority of this order; there are thought to be 150,000 to 250,000 different species of moth , with thousands of species yet to be described...

s, and fire ant
Fire ant
Fire ants are a variety of stinging ants with over 285 species worldwide. They have several common names, including ginger ants, tropical fire ants and red ants.- Appearance :...

s. Numerous species of spider
Spider
Spiders are air-breathing arthropods that have eight legs, and chelicerae with fangs that inject venom. They are the largest order of arachnids and rank seventh in total species diversity among all other groups of organisms...

s and several species of scorpion
Scorpion
Scorpions are predatory arthropod animals of the order Scorpiones within the class Arachnida. They have eight legs and are easily recognized by the pair of grasping claws and the narrow, segmented tail, often carried in a characteristic forward curve over the back, ending with a venomous stinger...

s including the bark scorpion and the giant desert hairy scorpion
Giant desert hairy scorpion
Hadrurus arizonensis, the giant desert hairy scorpion, giant hairy scorpion, or Arizona Desert hairy scorpion, is the largest scorpion in North America, and one of the 8–9 species of Hadrurus in the United States, attaining a length of . Its large size allows it to feed readily on other scorpions...

 inhabit the riparian zone.

Eleven aquatic and 26 terrestrial species of mollusks have been identified in and around Grand Canyon National Park. Of the aquatic species, two are bivalves (clams) and nine are gastropods (snails). Twenty-six species of terrestrial gastropods have been identified, primarily land snails and slugs.

There are a approximately 47 reptile
Reptile
Reptiles are members of a class of air-breathing, ectothermic vertebrates which are characterized by laying shelled eggs , and having skin covered in scales and/or scutes. They are tetrapods, either having four limbs or being descended from four-limbed ancestors...

 species in Grand Canyon National Park. Ten are considered common along the river corridor and include lizards and snakes. Lizard
Lizard
Lizards are a widespread group of squamate reptiles, with nearly 3800 species, ranging across all continents except Antarctica as well as most oceanic island chains...

 density tends to be highest along the stretch of land between the water's edge and the beginning of the upland desert community. The two largest lizards in the Canyon are gila monsters and chuckwalla
Chuckwalla
Chuckwallas are large lizards found primarily in arid regions of the southwestern United States and northern Mexico. Some are found on coastal islands...

s. Many snake
Snake
Snakes are elongate, legless, carnivorous reptiles of the suborder Serpentes that can be distinguished from legless lizards by their lack of eyelids and external ears. Like all squamates, snakes are ectothermic, amniote vertebrates covered in overlapping scales...

 species, which are not directly dependent on surface water, may be found both within the inner gorge and the Colorado River corridor. Six rattlesnake
Rattlesnake
Rattlesnakes are a group of venomous snakes of the genera Crotalus and Sistrurus of the subfamily Crotalinae . There are 32 known species of rattlesnake, with between 65-70 subspecies, all native to the Americas, ranging from southern Alberta and southern British Columbia in Canada to Central...

 species have been recorded in the park.

Above the river corridor a desert scrub community, composed of North American desert flora, thrives. Typical warm desert species such as creosote bush
Creosote bush
Larrea tridentata is known as Creosote bush as a plant, chaparral as a medicinal herb, and as "gobernadora" in Mexico, Spanish for "governess," due to its ability for inhibiting the growth of nearby plants to have more water. In Sonora, it is more commonly called "hediondilla." It is a flowering...

, white bursage, brittle brush, catclaw acacia, ocotillo
Ocotillo
Fouquieria splendens Engelm. is a desert plant of the southwestern United States and northern Mexico. Common names include ocotillo, desert coral, coachwhip, Jacob's staff, and vine cactus, although it is not a true cactus...

, mariola, western honey mesquite, four-wing saltbush, big sagebrush, blackbrush and rubber rabbitbrush grow in this community. The mammalian fauna in the woodland scrub community consists of 50 species, mostly rodents and bats. Three of the five Park woodrat species live in the desert scrub community.

Except for the western (desert) banded gecko
Coleonyx variegatus
The Western Banded Gecko is a species of gecko found in the southwestern United States and northern Mexico .-Description:...

, which seems to be distributed only near water along the Colorado River, all of the reptiles found near the river also appear in the uplands, but in lower densities. The desert gopher tortoise
Gopherus
Gopherus is a genus of tortoises commonly referred to as gopher tortoises. The gopher tortoise is grouped with land tortoises that originated 60 million years ago, in North America...

, a threatened species, inhabits the desert scrublands in the western end of the park.

Some of the common insects found at elevations above 2,000 feet are orange paper wasps, honey bee
Honey bee
Honey bees are a subset of bees in the genus Apis, primarily distinguished by the production and storage of honey and the construction of perennial, colonial nests out of wax. Honey bees are the only extant members of the tribe Apini, all in the genus Apis...

s, black flies, tarantula hawk
Tarantula hawk
A tarantula hawk is a spider wasp which hunts tarantulas as food for its larvae. Tarantula hawks belong to any of the many species in the genera Pepsis and Hemipepsis in the family Pompilidae ....

s, stink bugs, beetles, black ants, and monarch
Monarch butterfly
The Monarch butterfly is a milkweed butterfly , in the family Nymphalidae. It is perhaps the best known of all North American butterflies. Since the 19th century, it has been found in New Zealand, and in Australia since 1871 where it is called the Wanderer...

 and swallowtail butterflies
Swallowtail butterfly
Swallowtail butterflies are large, colorful butterflies that form the family Papilionidae. There are over 550 species, and though the majority are tropical, members of the family are found on all continents except Antarctica...

. Solpugids, wood spiders, garden spiders, black widow spiders and tarantula
Tarantula
Tarantulas comprise a group of often hairy and often very large arachnids belonging to the family Theraphosidae, of which approximately 900 species have been identified. Some members of the same Suborder may also be called "tarantulas" in the common parlance. This article will restrict itself to...

s can are found in the desert scrub and higher elevations.

Upper Sonoran and Transition



The Upper Sonoran Life Zone includes most of the inner canyon and South Rim at elevations from 3,500 to 7,000 feet. This zone is generally dominated by blackbrush, sagebrush
Sagebrush
Sagebrush is a common name of a number of shrubby plant species in the genus Artemisia native to western North America;Or, the sagebrush steppe ecoregion, having one or more kinds of sagebrush, bunchgrasses and others;...

, and pinyon-juniper woodlands. Elevations of 3,500 to 4,000 feet are in the Mojave Desert Scrub community of the Upper Sonoran. This community is dominated by the four-winged saltbush
Atriplex canescens
Atriplex canescens, Chamiso, Chamiza, Four wing saltbush, Four-wing saltbush, and Fourwing saltbush, is a species of evergreen shrub in the Amaranthaceae family, which is native to the western and mid-western United States....

 and creosote bush; other important plants include Utah agave
Agave utahensis
Agave utahensis is a species of agave known by the common name Utah agave.Varieties of the species include the Nevada agave and Kaibab agave. It is an uncommon plant of the United States' desert southwest. This is a rosette-shaped agave having blue-green sharp-spiked leaves. The raceme...

, narrowleaf mesquite
Prosopis
Prosopis is a genus of flowering plants in the pea family, Fabaceae. It contains around 45 species of spiny trees and shrubs found in subtropical and tropical regions of the Americas, Africa, Western Asia, and South Asia. They often thrive in arid soil and are resistant to drought, on occasion...

, ratany, catclaw, and various cacti
Cacti
-See also:* RRDtool The underlying software upon which Cacti is built* MRTG The original Multi Router Traffic Grapher from which RRDtool was "extracted".* Munin -External links:******...

 species.

Approximately 30 bird species breed primarily in the desert uplands and cliffs of the inner canyon. Virtually all bird species present breed in other suitable habitats throughout the Sonoran and Mohave deserts. The abundance of bats, swifts, and riparian birds provides ample food for peregrines
Peregrine Falcon
The Peregrine Falcon , also known as the Peregrine, and historically as the Duck Hawk in North America, is a widespread bird of prey in the family Falconidae. A large, crow-sized falcon, it has a blue-gray back, barred white underparts, and a black head and "moustache"...

, and suitable eyrie sites are plentiful along the steep canyon walls. Also, several endangered California Condor
California Condor
The California Condor is a New World vulture, the largest North American land bird. Currently, this condor inhabits only the Grand Canyon area, Zion National Park, and coastal mountains of central and southern California and northern Baja California...

s that were re-introduced to the Colorado Plateau on the Arizona Strip, have made the eastern part of the Park their home.

The conifer forests provide habitat for 52 mammal species. Porcupine
Porcupine
Porcupines are rodents with a coat of sharp spines, or quills, that defend or camouflage them from predators. They are indigenous to the Americas, southern Asia, and Africa. Porcupines are the third largest of the rodents, behind the capybara and the beaver. Most porcupines are about long, with...

s, shrew
Shrew
A shrew or shrew mouse is a small molelike mammal classified in the order Soricomorpha. True shrews are also not to be confused with West Indies shrews, treeshrews, otter shrews, or elephant shrews, which belong to different families or orders.Although its external appearance is generally that of...

s, red squirrel
Red Squirrel
The red squirrel or Eurasian red squirrel is a species of tree squirrel in the genus Sciurus common throughout Eurasia...

s, tassel eared Kaibab
Kaibab Squirrel
The Kaibab Squirrel is a tassel-eared squirrel that lives in the Kaibab Plateau in the Southwest United States, in an area of 20 by 40 miles...

 and Abert's squirrel
Abert's Squirrel
Abert's squirrel is a tree squirrel in the genus Sciurus endemic to the Rocky Mountains from United States to Mexico, with concentrations found in Arizona, The Grand Canyon, New Mexico, and southwestern Colorado.-Etymology:The Abert's squirrel is named after Colonel John James Abert, an American...

s, black bear
American black bear
The American black bear is a medium-sized bear native to North America. It is the continent's smallest and most common bear species. Black bears are omnivores, with their diets varying greatly depending on season and location. They typically live in largely forested areas, but do leave forests in...

, mule deer, and elk
Elk
The Elk is the large deer, also called Cervus canadensis or wapiti, of North America and eastern Asia.Elk may also refer to:Other antlered mammals:...

 are found at the park's higher elevations on the Kaibab Plateau.

Above the desert scrub and up to 6,200 feet is a pinyon pine forest and one seed juniper woodland. Within this woodland one can find big sagebrush, snakeweed
Gutierrezia
Gutierrezia is a genus of flowering plants in the sunflower family. Plants of this genus are known generally as snakeweeds or matchweeds. There are about 25 species found in North and South America. These plants contain chemical compounds which can be toxic to livestock and some are considered weeds...

, Mormon tea, Utah agave, banana and narrowleaf Yucca
Yucca
Yucca is a genus of perennial shrubs and trees in the family Asparagaceae, subfamily Agavoideae. Its 40-50 species are notable for their rosettes of evergreen, tough, sword-shaped leaves and large terminal panicles of white or whitish flowers. They are native to the hot and dry parts of North...

, winterfat, Indian ricegrass
Indian ricegrass
Oryzopsis hymenoides is a perennial cool-season bunchgrass. It is native to western North America east of the Cascades from British Columbia and Alberta south to southern California, northeastern Mexico, and Texas...

, dropseed, and needlegrass. There are a variety of snakes and lizards here, but one species of reptile, the mountain short-horned Lizard, is a particularly abundant inhabitant of the piñon-juniper and ponderosa pine forests.

Ponderosa pine forests grow at elevations between 6,500 feet and 8,200 feet, on both North and South rims in the Transition life zone. The South Rim is includes species such as gray fox
Gray Fox
The gray fox is a mammal of the order Carnivora ranging throughout most of the southern half of North America from southern Canada to the northern part of South America...

, mule deer
Mule Deer
The mule deer is a deer indigenous to western North America. The Mule Deer gets its name from its large mule-like ears. There are believed to be several subspecies, including the black-tailed deer...

, bighorn sheep
Bighorn Sheep
The bighorn sheep is a species of sheep in North America named for its large horns. These horns can weigh up to , while the sheep themselves weigh up to . Recent genetic testing indicates that there are three distinct subspecies of Ovis canadensis, one of which is endangered: Ovis canadensis sierrae...

, rock squirrel
Rock Squirrel
The rock squirrel is a species of rodent in the family Sciuridae. It is found in Mexico and the United States. It is 43–53 cm long.-External links:**...

s, pinyon pine and Utah juniper. Additional species such as Gambel oak
Gambel oak
Quercus gambelii, or Gambel oak, is a deciduous small tree or large shrub widespread in the foothills and lower mountain elevations of the central southwestern United States and northwestern Mexico: its range is centered on the Colorado Plateau–Four Corners states of Utah-Colorado,...

, New Mexico locust, mountain mahogany, elderberry
Elderberry
Sambucus is a genus of between 5 and 30 species of shrubs or small trees in the moschatel family, Adoxaceae. It was formerly placed in the honeysuckle family, Caprifoliaceae, but was reclassified due to genetic evidence...

, creeping mahonia
Creeping mahonia
Mahonia Repens or Berberis aquifolium var. repens, with the common names Creeping Mahonia, Creeping Oregon-grape, Creeping barberry, Prostrate barberry, is the species of Mahonia native to the Rocky Mountains and westward areas of North America, from British Columbia and Alberta in the north...

, and fescue
Fescue
Festuce is a genus of about 300 species of perennial tufted grasses, belonging to the grass family Poaceae . The genus has a cosmopolitan distribution, although the majority of the species are found in cool temperate areas...

 have been identified in these forests. The Utah tiger salamander
Tiger Salamander
The Tiger Salamander is a species of Mole Salamander. The proper common name is the Eastern Tiger Salamander, to differentiate from other closely related species.-Description:...

 and the Great Basin spadefoot toad are two amphibians that are common in the rim forests. Of the approximately 90 bird species that breed in the coniferous forests, 51 are summer residents and at least 15 of these are known to be neotropical migrants.

Canadian and Hudsonian


Elevations of 8,200 to 9,000 feet are in the Canadian Life Zone, which includes the North Rim and the Kaibab Plateau
Kaibab Plateau
The Kaibab Plateau is located in northern Arizona in the United States. The plateau, part of the larger Colorado Plateau, is bordered on the south by the Grand Canyon and reaches an elevation of 9241 feet above sea level. The plateau is divided between Kaibab National Forest and the "North Rim"...

. Spruce-fir forests characterized by Englemann spruce, blue spruce
Blue Spruce
Picea pungens is a species of spruce native to western North America, from southeast Idaho and southwest Wyoming, south through Utah and Colorado to Arizona and New Mexico. It grows at high altitudes from altitude, though unlike Engelmann Spruce in the same area, it does not reach the alpine...

, Douglas fir, white fir
White Fir
White Fir is a fir native to the mountains of western North America, occurring at altitudes of 900-3,400 m. It is a medium to large evergreen coniferous tree growing to 25–60 m tall and with a trunk diameter of up to 2 m . It is popular as an ornamental landscaping tree and as a Christmas Tree...

, aspen
Aspen
Populus section Populus, of the Populus genus, includes the aspen trees and the white poplar Populus alba. The five typical aspens are all native to cold regions with cool summers, in the north of the Northern Hemisphere, extending south at high altitudes in the mountains. The White Poplar, by...

, and mountain ash
Rowan
The rowans or mountain-ashes are shrubs or small trees in genus Sorbus of family Rosaceae. They are native throughout the cool temperate regions of the Northern Hemisphere, with the highest species diversity in the mountains of western China and the Himalaya, where numerous apomictic microspecies...

, along with several species of perennial grasses, groundsel
Groundsel
Senecio vulgaris, often known by the common name Common groundsel, a humble in appearance member of the Asteraceae family and Senecio genus, is a tenacious deciduous annual whose presence now encompasses the globe in a wide area of easy to somewhat difficult growing conditions.The discussion of...

s, yarrow
Yarrow
Achillea millefolium or yarrow is a flowering plant in the family Asteraceae, native to the Northern Hemisphere. In New Mexico and southern Colorado, it is called plumajillo, or "little feather", for the shape of the leaves. In antiquity, yarrow was known as herbal militaris, for its use in...

, cinquefoil, lupin
Lupin
Lupinus, commonly known as Lupins or lupines , is a genus in the legume family . The genus comprises about 280 species , with major centers of diversity in South and western North America , and the Andes and secondary centers in the Mediterranean region and Africa Lupinus, commonly known as Lupins...

es, sedges, and asters, grow in this sub-alpine climate. Mountain lions, Kaibab squirrel
Kaibab Squirrel
The Kaibab Squirrel is a tassel-eared squirrel that lives in the Kaibab Plateau in the Southwest United States, in an area of 20 by 40 miles...

s, and northern goshawks are found here.

Montane meadows and subalpine grassland communities of the Hudsonian life zone are rare and located only on the North Rim. Both are typified by many grass species. Some of these grasses include blue and black grama
Black grama
Bouteloua eriopoda, commonly known as Black Grama, is a perennial prairie grass that is native to the Southwestern United States. Its main means of reproduction is by stolons, as its ratio of viable seeds to sterile ones is naturally low. The disparity may play a role in its lack of tolerance to...

, big galleta
Pleuraphis rigida
Pleuraphis rigida is a species of grass known by the common name big galleta.-Distribution:Pleuraphis rigida is native to the southwestern United States and northern Mexico, where it is widespread in chaparral, scrub, woodland, grassland, and plateau habitat...

, Indian ricegrass
Indian ricegrass
Oryzopsis hymenoides is a perennial cool-season bunchgrass. It is native to western North America east of the Cascades from British Columbia and Alberta south to southern California, northeastern Mexico, and Texas...

 and three-awns. The wettest areas support sedges and forbs.

Grand Canyon tourism


Grand Canyon National Park is one of the world’s premier natural attractions, attracting about five million visitors per year. Overall, 83% were from the United States: California (12.2%), Arizona (8.9%), Texas (4.8%), Florida (3.4%) and New York (3.2%) represented the top domestic visitors. Seventeen percent of visitors were from outside the United States; the most prominently represented nations were the United Kingdom (3.8%), Canada (3.5%), Japan (2.1%), Germany (1.9%) and The Netherlands (1.2%).

Activities


Aside from casual sightseeing from the South Rim (averaging 7,000 feet [2,100 m] above sea level), rafting
Rafting
Rafting or white water rafting is a challenging recreational outdoor activity using an inflatable raft to navigate a river or other bodies of water. This is usually done on white water or different degrees of rough water, in order to thrill and excite the raft passengers. The development of this...

, hiking
Hiking
Hiking is an outdoor activity which consists of walking in natural environments, often in mountainous or other scenic terrain. People often hike on hiking trails. It is such a popular activity that there are numerous hiking organizations worldwide. The health benefits of different types of hiking...

, running
Running
Running is a means of terrestrial locomotion allowing humans and other animals to move rapidly on foot. It is simply defined in athletics terms as a gait in which at regular points during the running cycle both feet are off the ground...

 and helicopter tours are especially popular. In October 2010 the North Rim is the host to an ultramarathon
Ultramarathon
An ultramarathon is any sporting event involving running longer than the traditional marathon length of .There are two types of ultramarathon events: those that cover a specified distance, and events that take place during specified time...

. The Grand Canyon Ultra Marathon
Grand Canyon Ultra Marathon
The Grand Canyon 24 hour Ultra Marathon is a 24 hour ultramarathon that takes the participants through one of the most striking environments on earth, the Grand Canyon. The race took place for the first time in October, 2010...

 is a 78 miles (125.5 km) race over 24 hours. The floor of the valley is accessible by foot, muleback, or by boat or raft from upriver. Hiking down to the river and back up to the rim in one day is discouraged by park officials because of the distance, steep and rocky trails, change in elevation, and danger of heat exhaustion from the much higher temperatures at the bottom. Rescues are required annually of unsuccessful rim-to-river-to-rim travelers. Nevertheless, hundreds of fit and experienced hikers complete the trip every year.

Camping on the North and South Rims is generally restricted to established campgrounds and reservations are highly recommended, especially at the busier South Rim. There is at large camping available along many parts of the North Rim managed by Kaibab National Forest
Kaibab National Forest
At 1.6 million acres the Kaibab National Forest borders both the north and south rims of the Grand Canyon, in north-central Arizona. It is divided into three major sections: the North Kaibab Ranger District and the South Kaibab and are managed by USDA Forest Service...

. Keep in mind North Rim campsites are only open seasonally due to road closures from weather and winter snowpack. All overnight camping below the rim requires a backcountry permit from the Backcountry Office (BCO). Each year Grand Canyon National Park receives approximately 30,000 requests for backcountry permits. The park issues 13,000 permits, and close to 40,000 people camp overnight. The earliest a permit application is accepted is the first of the month, four months before the proposed start month.

Tourists wishing for a more vertical perspective can board helicopter
Helicopter
A helicopter is a type of rotorcraft in which lift and thrust are supplied by one or more engine-driven rotors. This allows the helicopter to take off and land vertically, to hover, and to fly forwards, backwards, and laterally...

s and small airplanes in Las Vegas
Las Vegas, Nevada
Las Vegas is the most populous city in the U.S. state of Nevada and is also the county seat of Clark County, Nevada. Las Vegas is an internationally renowned major resort city for gambling, shopping, and fine dining. The city bills itself as The Entertainment Capital of the World, and is famous...

, Phoenix
Phoenix, Arizona
Phoenix is the capital, and largest city, of the U.S. state of Arizona, as well as the sixth most populated city in the United States. Phoenix is home to 1,445,632 people according to the official 2010 U.S. Census Bureau data...

 and Grand Canyon National Park Airport
Grand Canyon National Park Airport
Grand Canyon National Park Airport is a state-owned public-use airport located in Tusayan, a CDP in unincorporated Coconino County, Arizona, United States. It is near Grand Canyon National Park, seven miles from the South Rim of the Grand Canyon...

 (seven miles from the South Rim) for canyon flyovers. Scenic flights are no longer allowed to fly within 1500 feet of the rim within the national park because of a late 1990s crash. Maverick Helicopter offers a tour that descends and lands 3,500 feet into the Grand Canyon in Hualapai
Hualapai
The Hualapai or Walapai are a tribe of Native Americans who live in the mountains of northwestern Arizona, United States. The name is derived from "hwa:l," the Hualapai word for ponderosa pine, "Hualapai" meaning "people of the ponderosa pine"...

 Indian Territory. The last aerial video footage from below the rim was filmed in 1984. However, some helicopter flights land on the Havasupai and Hualapai Indian Reservations within Grand Canyon (outside of the park boundaries). Recently, the Hualapai Tribe opened the glass-bottomed Grand Canyon Skywalk
Grand Canyon Skywalk
The Grand Canyon Skywalk is a transparent horseshoe-shaped cantilever bridge and tourist attraction in Arizona near the Colorado River on the edge of a side canyon in the Grand Canyon West area of the main canyon...

 on their property, Grand Canyon West. The Skywalk has seen mixed reviews since the site is only accessible by driving down a 10 miles (16.1 km) dirt road, costs a minimum of $85 in total for reservation fees, a tour package and admission to the Skywalk itself and the fact that cameras or other personal equipment are not permitted on the Skywalk at any time due to the hazard of damaging the glass if dropped. The Skywalk is some 24 miles (38.6 km) west of Grand Canyon Village at the South Rim.

Viewing the canyon



Lipan Point is a promontory located on the South Rim. This point is located to the east of the Grand Canyon Village along the Desert View Drive. There is a parking lot for visitors who care to drive along with the Canyon's bus service that routinely stops at the point. The trailhead to the Tanner Trail
Tanner Trail
The Tanner Trail is a hiking trail located on the South Rim of the Grand Canyon National Park, located in the U.S. state of Arizona. The trailhead is located at Lipan Point, a prominent lookout located to the east of the Grand Canyon Village and it ends at the Colorado River at Tanner Rapids.With...

 is located just before the parking lot. The view from Lipan Point shows a wide array of rock strata and the Unkar Creek area in the inner canyon.

The canyon can be seen from the Toroweap (or Tuweep) Overlook situated 3000 vertical feet above the Colorado River, about 50 miles downriver from the South Rim and 70 upriver from the Grand Canyon Skywalk
Grand Canyon Skywalk
The Grand Canyon Skywalk is a transparent horseshoe-shaped cantilever bridge and tourist attraction in Arizona near the Colorado River on the edge of a side canyon in the Grand Canyon West area of the main canyon...

. This region — "one of the most remote in the United States" according to the National Park Service — is reached only by one of three lengthy dirt tracks beginning in from St. George, Utah
St. George, Utah
St. George is a city located in the southwestern part of the U.S. state of Utah, and the county seat of Washington County, Utah. It is the principal city of and is included in the St. George, Utah, Metropolitan Statistical Area. The city is 119 miles northeast of Las Vegas, Nevada, and 303 miles ...

, Colorado City or near Pipe Spring National Monument (both in Arizona). Each road traverses wild, uninhabited land for 97, 62 and 64 miles respectively. The Park Service manages the area for primitive value with minimal improvements and services.

Grand Canyon fatalities


About 600 deaths have occurred in the Grand Canyon since the 1870s. Some of these deaths occurred as the result of overly zealous photographic endeavors, some were the result of airplane collisions within the canyon, and some visitors drowned in the Colorado River. Many hikers overestimate their fitness level, become dehydrated and confused, and must be rescued. The Park Service now posts a picture of an attractive and fit young man at several trailhead
Trailhead
A trailhead is the point at which a trail begins, where the trail is often intended for hiking, biking, horseback riding, or off-road vehicles...

s with the caption "Every year we rescue hundreds of people from the Canyon. Most of them look like him", in an attempt to discourage hikers from feats which are beyond their abilities.

Of the fatalities, 53 have resulted from falls; 65 deaths were attributable to environmental causes, including heat stroke, cardiac arrest, dehydration, and hypothermia; 7 were caught in flash floods; 79 were drowned in the Colorado River; 242 perished in airplane and helicopter crashes (128 of them in the 1956 disaster mentioned below); 25 died in freak errors and accidents, including lightning strikes and rock falls; 48 committed suicide; and 23 were the victims of homicides.

1956 air disaster


In 1956 the Grand Canyon was the site of the deadliest commercial aviation disaster in history at the time.

On the morning of June 30, 1956, a TWA
Twa
The Twa are any of several hunting peoples of Africa who live interdependently with agricultural Bantu populations, and generally hold a socially subordinate position: They provide the farming population with game in exchange for agricultural products....

 Lockheed Super Constellation and a United Airlines
United Airlines
United Air Lines, Inc., is the world's largest airline with 86,852 employees United Air Lines, Inc., is the world's largest airline with 86,852 employees United Air Lines, Inc., is the world's largest airline with 86,852 employees (which includes the entire holding company United Continental...

 Douglas DC-7
Douglas DC-7
The Douglas DC-7 is an American transport aircraft built by the Douglas Aircraft Company from 1953 to 1958. It was the last major piston engine powered transport made by Douglas, coming just a few years before the advent of jet aircraft such as the Boeing 707 and Douglas DC-8.-Design and...

 departed Los Angeles International Airport within three minutes of one another on eastbound transcontinental flights. Approximately 90 minutes later, the two propeller-driven airliners collided above the canyon while both were flying in unmonitored airspace.

The wreckage of both planes fell into the eastern portion of the canyon, on Temple and Chuar Buttes, near the confluence of the Colorado and Little Colorado rivers. The disaster killed all 128 passengers and crew members aboard both planes.

This accident led to the institution of high-altitude airways and positive control
Air traffic control
Air traffic control is a service provided by ground-based controllers who direct aircraft on the ground and in the air. The primary purpose of ATC systems worldwide is to separate aircraft to prevent collisions, to organize and expedite the flow of traffic, and to provide information and other...

 by en route ground controllers.

Evacuation


Canyon tourists and residents of Supai
Supai, Arizona
Supai is a census-designated place in Coconino County, Arizona, United States, within the Grand Canyon.As of the 1990 census, the CDP had a population of 423; the 2000 census erroneously recorded a population of 0...

, a town located in the bottom of the canyon, were evacuated from the Supai area on August 17–18, 2008 due to a break in the earthen Redlands Dam, located upstream of Supai, after a night of heavy rainfall. Evacuees were taken to Peach Springs, Arizona
Peach Springs, Arizona
Peach Springs is a census-designated place in Mohave County, Arizona, United States. The population was 600 at the 2000 census. Peach Springs serves as the administrative headquarters of the Hualapai people, and is located on the Hualapai Reservation.-Geography:Peach Springs is located at ...

. More heavy rains were expected and a flash flood warning was put into effect, necessitating the evacuation, according to the Grand Canyon National Park Service
National Park Service
The National Park Service is the U.S. federal agency that manages all national parks, many national monuments, and other conservation and historical properties with various title designations...

. The floods were significant enough to attract coverage from international media.

See also



  • Colca Canyon
    Colca Canyon
    Colca Canyon is a canyon of the Colca River in southern Peru. Peru's third most-visited tourist destination with about 160,000 visitors annually, it's located about 100 miles northwest of Arequipa...

    , Peru
    Peru
    Peru , officially the Republic of Peru , is a country in western South America. It is bordered on the north by Ecuador and Colombia, on the east by Brazil, on the southeast by Bolivia, on the south by Chile, and on the west by the Pacific Ocean....

  • Cotahuasi Canyon
    Cotahuasi Canyon
    Cotahuasi Canyon near the city of Arequipa in Peru is the deepest canyon in the world. Its maximum depth is 3535 metres in the vicinity of Ninancocha, 335 metres more than the Colca Canyon. The Cotahuasi Canyon is an impressive chasm that the river has eroded between two enormous mountain massifs:...

    , Peru
    Peru
    Peru , officially the Republic of Peru , is a country in western South America. It is bordered on the north by Ecuador and Colombia, on the east by Brazil, on the southeast by Bolivia, on the south by Chile, and on the west by the Pacific Ocean....

  • Grand Canyon National Park
    Grand Canyon National Park
    Grand Canyon National Park is the United States' 15th oldest national park and is located in Arizona. Within the park lies the Grand Canyon, a gorge of the Colorado River, considered to be one of the Wonders of the World. The park covers of unincorporated area in Coconino and Mohave counties.Most...

  • Grand Canyon Suite
    Grand Canyon Suite
    The Grand Canyon Suite is a suite for orchestra by Ferde Grofé, composed during the period from 1929 to 1931. It consists of five parts or movements, each an evocation in tone of a particular scene typical of the Grand Canyon...

  • Grand Canyon Ultra Marathon
    Grand Canyon Ultra Marathon
    The Grand Canyon 24 hour Ultra Marathon is a 24 hour ultramarathon that takes the participants through one of the most striking environments on earth, the Grand Canyon. The race took place for the first time in October, 2010...

  • Jacob Lake, Arizona
    Jacob Lake, Arizona
    Jacob Lake is a small unincorporated community on the Kaibab Plateau in Coconino County, Arizona, United States, at the junction of U.S. Route 89A and State Route 67...

  • List of Colorado River rapids and features
  • List of trails in Grand Canyon National Park


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