Exploring the Grand Canyon: What you need to know
Set within a vast desert landscape of Arizona, sits one of the most amazing natural wonders of the world. The Grand Canyon is made up of 277 miles of layered rock that has been craved down by the Colorado River for over 6 million years. At it's deepest it reaches a depth of over a mile and spans up to 18 miles across. The canyon is so big that not only can it be seen from space, it also influences the weather around it.
I have been lucky enough to visit the Grand Canyon several times and it never esses to amaze and inspire me. The vast beauty of the rainbow colored rock against the deep blue of a cloudless sky is stunning to the senses. The history of this location is just as vast as the canyon itself.
I usually enter the park through Arizona but I have entered through Nevada as well. If you do go through Nevada make sure to stop at the Hoover Dam and take the dam tour (sorry I couldn't help myself). Vegas is also nearby if you feel so inclined. Personally I'd skip the strip and take in as much of the national park as possible.
The north rim is more remote and quitter on the tourist front then the South. It can be harder to access but is well worth the trip if you'd like a less touristy adventure.
The South rim is the main entrance for the park and offers the most in terms of accommodations and restaurants. It also offers around 30 miles of accessible roads for exploring. While this area can be crowed with tourists, it is well worth the exploration.
Grand Canyon Village
Located in the South Rim, the Grand Canyon Village offers a great starting point for your adventures. Hotels, restaurants, art galleries and of course the much needed souvenirs can be found here. Many of the trail heads are located here as well.
There are constant ranger activities that you can take part in, like learning about local flora and fauna, history of the park and night talks. You can see how early settlers traversed the land, using donkeys and mules to hike up and down the cliff side.
While the park is impressive in its beauty and size, it is very important to stay safe while exploring the Grand Canyon. Never hike by yourself without at the very least touching base with someone first. There are literally books about the stupid things people have done here and it doesn't always end well.
Hiking is not the only activity you can do; rafting, biking, amazing star gazing and helicopter rides are just some of the ways you can explore the Grand Canyon.
5 Facts about the Grand Canyon:
1. People have lived around the Grand Canyon for over 11,000 years.
2. The rock that lines the canyon floor is 2 billion years old! You can see the distinct lines in the colored rock that define different time periods. As you hike down into the canyon you are going back in time. The park has small round markers on the paths that let you know how old the rock you're standing on is.
3. If you look closely at the ground you can see fossils! Does anyone else find this really cool?
4. There are an estimated 1,000+ caves hidden throughout the canyon. Only a small portion, a little over 300, have been officially recorded. The only cave open to the public is the Cave of the Domes on Horseshoe Mesa.
5. The Grand Canyon is the second most visited National Park in the US. Falling just behind the Great Smokey Mountains.
The Grand Canyon is an out door enthusiasts dream come true. While I do not claim to be one myself, I do love visiting this place. Personally, the Grand Canyon is full of life long memories, some of my best if I'm being honest, and has always managed to make me feel connected to the Earth in a way only grand National Parks can. It is truly a sight to see and I hope that everyone gets to visit at least once in their life.