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Grand Canyon

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Grand Canyon

Grand Canyon Photo

Every year millions of people travel to the Western United States to explore the largest canyon of America – the Grand Canyon of Arizona. There you can stand on the rim of the gaping chasm, mesmerized by the view of this natural wonder of the world. Or you can hike down the canyon and experience its magical landscapes and abundant natural history. And for adventurous white-water rafters there is a wild ride on the Colorado River, right through the heart of the Grand Canyon. All year round the state of Arizona offers its residents and visitors tastes of real adventure and stunning beauty.

Enigmatic landscapes that captivate the imagination and capture the soul are found throughout this unique scenery. Here, the mile-deep Grand Canyon slashes its colorful course across 277 miles, the cobalt-blue waters of Lake Powell mark a stunning contrast against the sandstone shoreline, and the flourishing lush forests of the San Francisco Peaks seem to scrape the skies.

Grand Canyon Pictures

The Grand Canyon is a colorful, steep-sided gorge, carved by the Colorado River, and is actually one of the seven natural wonders of the world. It is largely contained in the Grand Canyon National Park, located in Northwestern Arizona, with the Kaibab National Forest creating a buffer of undeveloped land around the central canyon. President Theodore Roosevelt was a major proponent of designating the Grand Canyon area, who would visit it on numerous occasions to hunt mountain lion and enjoy the scenery. The canyon was created by the Colorado River cutting a channel over millions of years, and is about 277 miles long, ranges in width from 4 to 18 miles and attains a depth of more than 1 mile. Nearly 2 billion years of the Earth's history have been exposed as the Colorado River and its tributaries cut through layer after layer of sediment as the Colorado Plateaus have uplifted.

The park, focusing on the world-famous Grand Canyon of the Colorado River, encompasses 277 miles of the river, with adjacent uplands, from the Southern terminus of Glen Canyon National Recreation Area to the Eastern boundary of Lake Mead National Recreation Area. The forces of erosion have exposed a great variety of formations which illustrate vast periods of geological history.

The Grand Canyon National Park provides a wide array of recreation opportunities for visitors of diverse interests and abilities. The park features main visitor center located on the South Rim East of Grand Canyon Village, as well as interpretive centers also located at Yavapai Observation Station, Tusayan Museum, Desert View and the North Rim (mid-May through late October only). Visit the South Rim's Visitor Center at Canyon View Information Plaza. Outdoor exhibits provide a variety of information about Grand Canyon National Park and what to do on arriving.

Grand Canyon Photos

The inner canyon can be accessed via the so-called "Corridor Trails": The Bright Angel Trail, South Kaibab Trail (South Rim) and North Kaibab Trail (North Rim). There are other less heavily traveled and more remote inner canyon trails, as well. All overnight travel below the rim requires a Backcountry Permit. The Rim Trail on the South Rim offers vistas along the South Rim; a variety of rim trails are also available through the more heavily forested regions on the North Rim. All main park roads are paved. A large network of gravel roads exists in the Kaibab National Forest outside the park on both rims.

The park offers free ranger-led programs throughout the year, including a wide variety of walks, talks and a nightly evening program (outdoors in summer, indoors during cooler weather). The Grand Canyon Field Institute offers guided educational tours led by expert instructors while backpacking, camping, hiking, and whitewater rafting. Topics include geology, history, archaeology, photography, and more.

Don’t skip the newly improved Hermit Road that has some of the best Grand Canyon views. Once you get out to Hopi Point, the Colorado River comes into view, and on a quiet day at Pima Point, you can hear the roar of the Colorado River as it crashes through Granite Rapid. You may take a commercial tour bus or free park shuttle bus, which will give you the chance to look at the scenery, while someone else does the driving. The shuttle buses have many advantages and you can use them in conjunction with the rim trail, so that you can get off at one stop, enjoy a scenic walk along the rim, and then get back on the bus at the next stop. If you feel like taking a longer walk, fill a backpack with food and water, then take the shuttle bus out to Hermit’s Rest and day hike the Rim Trail the 8 miles back to the Village.

Grand Canyon Picture

If you enjoy bicycling, Hermit Road is probably the best place in the park. There is far less traffic out here because of the limitations on private vehicles. The three miles of new Greenway Trail are also a great addition for cyclists as well as hikers.

Have a journey to Grand Canyon National Park aboard Grand Canyon Railway. The train departs from Williams, Arizona (along Interstate 40) and carries more than 230,000 people by rail to Grand Canyon National Park each year.

Climate within Grand Canyon National Park varies significantly depending on your location within the canyon. The South Rim is 7,000 feet above sea level, which means snow in winter and cool nights even in summer. Inner canyon hiking, below the rim, is another story, however: summer temperatures along the Colorado River at the canyon bottom can reach 120 degrees F. The North Rim is 8000 feet above sea level and can receive snow throughout most of the year. Weather is particularly changeable in spring and fall, so visitors should be prepared for a variety of climates.