Introducing Grand Canyon National Park
For many, the Grand Canyon epitomizes the ultimate American travel destination. Cleaving a mile deep into the earth and averaging 10 miles across, it compels even the most jaded traveler to pause and draw breath. Snaking along its floor are 277 miles of the Colorado River, which has carved the canyon over the past six million years and exposed rocks up to two billion years old – half the age of the Earth.
The two rims of the Grand Canyon offer quite different experiences and, as they lie more than 200 miles apart by road, are rarely visited on the same trip. Most visitors choose the South Rim, which boasts easy access, the bulk of services and the panoramic vistas for which the park is famous. The quieter North Rim has its own charms; at 8200ft elevation (1000ft higher than the South Rim), its cooler temperatures support wildflower meadows and tall, thick stands of aspen and spruce.
Initially dismissed as little more than an obstacle to exploration, the canyon first drew 19th-century miners bent on exploiting its rich natural resources. Native American resistance and the lack of water slowed development, but by the time Frederick Jackson Turner declared the end of the American frontier in 1893, entrepreneurs had transformed the canyon into one of the country’s most celebrated destinations. At the dawn of the industrial revolution, people flocked here in search of the romanticized wilderness ideal and embraced its sublime beauty. They still do. Today the park attracts five million visitors yearly from around the world.
In 2007, the Grand Canyon Skywalk debuted on a remote section of the western canyon owned by the Hualapai Nation. A fascinating and controversial addition to the landscape, it’s certain to change the way visitors experience the canyon.
Ready to go?
These tours & activities make it easy:
- Discover San Diego, the Grand Canyon & Vegas
- Explore Yellowstone, the Rocky Mountains and hike the Grand Canyon
- Get a bird's eye view with a helicopter flight over the Grand Canyon
Last updated: Feb 8, 2013
Tips & articles
31 August 2012
When is the best time to visit the National Parks of the US and Canada? You might think the answer...
Check out all our reviewed and recommended accommodation and book online.