Grand Canyon National Park
Grand Canyon National Park is located in the American state of Arizona and is the country’s fifteenth established park. The main feature of the park is the Grand Canyon, which is a gorge of the Colorado River, and is often thought of as one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World. The park contains 1,217,262 acres of land. It was established as an official national park in 1919, but the area was already well known as a landmark for thirty years. In 1903, President Theodore Roosevelt visited the Grand Canyon, but his interest in conservation and his love for the area did not immediately spark interest in the creation of a national park.
The first proposal to convert the Grand Canyon into a national park occurred in 1882 and was introduced as a bill by Senator Benjamin Harrison. If the bill had passed, the park would have been America’s second national park. Harrison tried to pass the bill two more time before he became president in 1888, but was able to establish the Grand Canyon Forest Reserve instead in 1893. It was not until 1919, after Theodore Roosevelt had established the Grand Canyon Game Preserve and Grand Canyon National Monument and after two more attempted bills, that President Woodrow Wilson signed the bill that established the Grand Canyon as a national park. The National Park Service, established in 1916, was given administration of the entire park.
The establishment of Grand Canyon National Park marked an important step for the conservation movement. It is thought that its new status as a national park stopped the plan to dam the Colorado River, although the Glen Canyon Dam would later be developed upriver. The monument formally known as Marble Canyon National Monument was added to the park in 1975. In 1979, the park was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO, and in 2010, the park received its own quarter under the America the Beautiful Quarters program.
The Grand Canyon is comprised of a system of deep tributary canyons. The walls of these canyons are colorful and hold rocks that are thought to date back to the Precambrian age. The canyons were created when the Colorado Plateau was raised and the Colorado River pushed through.
The North and South Rims of Grand Canyon National Park are the main areas for people to visit. This is due to ease of access in both areas. Most other areas of the park are located in areas with rough terrain, but many of these are accessible by backpacking trails or rough roads. A road connects the two rims at the Navajo Bridge near the city of Page, but this is the only road that connects the two sides of the canyon and takes about five hours to travel by automobile. The Hoover Dam and Boulder City in Nevada also connect the two rims together.
The North Rim of Grand Canyon National Park, which can be accessed by Arizona State Route 67, is smaller than the South Rim and less frequented by visitors. The South Rim, where most visitors can be found, can be accessed by Arizona State Route 64. The south end of the park, which appears near Tusayan, Arizona, holds a road that moves eastward and ends at the east entrance of the park. In total, the South Rim can be accessed by more than thirty miles of paved road.
Grand Canyon National Park features a full-service community known as Grand Canyon Village. This community offers lodging, churches, a hospital, souvenirs, food, fuel, and guided tours along trails. The South Rim also features lodging in the form of two campgrounds in the community and at Desert View. Visitors can stay at hotels in Grand Canyon Village or at the Grand Canyon Lodge. The Grand Canyon Association (GCA), which was established 1932, is a nonprofit organization that raises funds for the benefit of the park. The funds are brought in by visitor centers and retail stores and are managed by the group. The funds go to education regarding the park and nature conservation.
The South Rim of Grand Canyon National Park features many activities for visitors to enjoy, including South Rim Drive, a thirty-five mile driving tour. The eight-mile road to Hermit’s Point features several scenic overlooks including the Powell Memorial, Mojave Point, and Hopi Point. During the months of March to December, visitors traveling to Hopi Point are not allowed to use their own vehicles, but must use the free shuttle service that the National Park Service provides. Unlike the route to Hopi Point, the twenty-five mile road to Desert View is open to travel throughout the year.
Grand Canyon National Park offers many walking trails including the Rim Trail, which moves along eight miles of westward paved trail from the Pipe Creek viewpoint, to seven miles of unpaved trail that ends at Hermit’s Rest. Hiking can begin almost anywhere along this trail, and shuttles are able to return visitors to any of these starting points. One of the most popular starting points is Mather Point, which is located at the south entrance of the park. Another method of surveying the park is provided by small airplanes and helicopters. These private tours begin at Grand Canyon National Park Airport, Las Vegas, and Phoenix. However, due to a crash that occurred in the 1990’s, these tours are no longer allowed to fly within 1,500 feet of the rim of the canyon.
Image Caption: Grand Canyon National Park, North Rim in Arizona. Credit: Staplegunther/Wikipedia (CC BY-SA 3.0)