The Grand Canyon.
A monument to the terrifying forces that have shaped our planet in the distant past, this mighty crack upon the landscape defies everyday logic.
Like a snake winding through stone, the Grand Canyon divides the landscape of Northern Arizona into half. Stretching 277 miles, it can be seen from outer space, as a beautiful scar on the face of the Earth.
Humans have been drawn to the Canyon since time immemorial, culminating in its present status as one of the most visited tourist destinations in the world.
One can spend a lifetime exploring its cliffs, plateaus and ravines, but even a single glimpse is enough to last most people a lifetime.
This is no easy feat however. The Grand Canyon can be a harsh, unforgiving place for those that venture into it unprepared.
If you wish to know more about what to expect from your visit to the Canyon, go ahead and read on. We have summarized a number of key facts concerning the Grand Canyon, in addition to providing some practical tips on how to get there, and what to do once you arrive.
The Lay of the Land
Geography & Geology
The Grand Canyon was carved out by the Colorado River over a period of at least 5 million years. The total length of the Canyon is 277 miles, stretching between Lee’s Ferry at the Utah border, to Grand Wash Cliffs near Las Vegas. Its elevation changes throughout its entire course, from Point Imperial at 9000 feet, to Lake Mead at 2000 feet. It varies in width between 4 and 18 miles. It is over a mile deep in certain places.
Flora & Fauna
The Grand Canyon is home to numerous species of plants, including 1737 species of tracheophytes, 195 species of lichen, 64 species of moss, and 167 species of fungi. Some of the plants are endemic to the region. Forests of ponderosa and pinyon pine are common at both rims of the Canyon.
The Grand Canyon has a great diversity of animal species as well, thanks to the fact that it contains five out of seven biomes or life zones. Some of the animals you can come across include coyotes, California Condors, Desert Big Horn Sheep, and Albert’s Squirrels.
Climate & Weather
When it comes to weather, the Grand Canyon is a land of extremes. Some of the Canyon rims get some snow fall during winter, whereas areas near the Inner Gorge have a desert climate. In general, the climate is arid with the exception of two periods of rainfall, one during the winter, and one in late summer. Temperatures can widely vary depending on elevation and time of year. During the summer, temperatures in the Inner Gorge can reach 100 degrees Fahrenheit, while temperatures on the rims can drop as low as zero degrees Fahrenheit during the winter.
Sights and Activities
The Grand Canyon spreads across an area of more than a million acres, offering many opportunities for sightseeing, trekking, camping, and other activities.
Lipan Point is one of the better known sightseeing locations on the South Rim. It is located to the east of Grand Canyon Village. A favorite spot of amateur geologists, Lipan Point offers a view of the different geological layers that comprise the Canyon.
Another sightseeing spot on the South Rim is Desert View. Its watchtower offers a great vantage point for viewing the canyon and the Colorado River.
There are two Indian reservations open to visitors in the Canyon. The Havasupai Reservation is located at the southwest corner of the Grand Canyon National Park, and is one of the most remote Indian settlements on the continent. The reservation has a camping ground, as well as a Tribal Museum, which contains photos of the reservation, in addition to offering tribal crafts for sale. The Hualapai Reservation rests on the border of the Colorado River, south of the Grand Canyon National Park. The local tribes provide accommodations and other tourist activities such as motorboat rafting.
The Grand Canyon is a hiker’s paradise. There are countless trails scattered across the area, ranging in difficulty from short, fifteen minute walks, to multi-week treks. Many of the trails are unmarked and unmaintained, and are only suitable for experienced hikers. While the majority of hikes involves elevation changes, there are also some that wind along the rim for a less-strenuous hiking experience. All visitors should take adequate preparations before venturing on a hike. Temperature and elevation changes combined with an arid climate can make the Canyon a perilous place for the unprepared. Some of the better known hiking trails include the Bright Angel Trail, the South Kaibab Trail, and the Hermit Trail.
For our more aquatically-inclined visitors, the Grand Canyon also offers whitewater rafting. Rafting trips can last between 3 and 18 days, and cover distances between 80 and 300 miles. Bear in mind that commercial rafting trips are usually booked a year in advance, due to high demand. The most popular rafting destination is the river segment between Lee’s Ferry and Diamond Creek.
The Grand Canyon attracts more than 5 million visitors from around the world each year. Areas such as the Southern Rim are accessible year-round, whereas the Northern Rim is only open to visitors from May to October.
Most travelers visiting the South Rim arrive from the south, on Arizona Route 64. Travelers visiting the North Rim use Arizona Route 67. Bear in mind that the latter is closed during the winter. All cars entering the Grand Canyon have to pay a $30 fee, which gives them a permit valid for seven days.
By Dunn Executive Coach
If you are traveling with a group of people, chartering a coach is an option worth looking into. Our charter coach services that offer trips to the Grand Canyon provide vehicles of different sizes to accommodate any group. They are used for university trips, as passage to the Grand Canyon Marathon, and even for weddings.
The Grand Canyon is truly one of the wonders of the natural world. Few people leave the Canyon disappointed, and many find it to be a transformative experience. There is something for everyone in the Grand Canyon, and if you’re still wondering where to go for your next holiday, why not charter a ride to this surreal spot and see how it transforms you?