The History of Arizona's Grand Canyon

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From the heights of Africa’s Victoria Falls to the depths of Australia’s Great Barrier Reef, the Seven Natural Wonders of the World are each inspiring in their own way. If you’re planning a trip to the American West and want to see one, visit Grand Canyon Arizona; you won’t be disappointed.

Grand Canyon Arizona is heralded as a geological masterpiece and erosion is the artist held responsible. Though the rushing Colorado River gave the canyon its depth, it was nature that carved intricate rims, ridges, crests and canyons into the limestone and sandstone walls. Ice should be applauded for its contribution; water that seeped into the rock crevices froze and forced the rocks apart. The rocks found in Grand Canyon Arizona are ancient; exposed rock at the bottom is dated at over 2,000 million years (FYI the first dinosaurs appeared around 230 million years ago).

The canyon itself was not actually carved out until five or six million years ago, making the canyon relatively young.

Humans have been present in the canyon for the past 10,000 years; existing artifacts prove migrating tribes once passed between its walls. Permanent civilization existed 4,000 years ago; these inhabitants, called the ‘Hisatsinom,’ were the ancestors of today’s Navajo and Hopi Native American tribes. Their pueblos and cliff dwellings still exist today along the canyon walls and rim.

Spaniard Garcia Lopez de Cardenas was the first European to lay eyes on the canyon in 1540 though his party did not enter it. The first man to go into the canyon was a one armed Civil War veteran named John Wesley Powell, whose party explored the Colorado River in open boats in 1869. Powell renamed the canyon ‘ Grand Canyon,’ replacing its original Paiute Indian name ‘Kaibab’ or ‘Mountain Lying Down.’

The Grand Canyon Arizona National Park

By 1893 the canyon was deemed a forest reserve by President Benjamin Harrison; 10 years later the park’s fate as a famous feature was sealed when President Theodore Roosevelt’s visited in 1903. Describing the park as ‘the one great site which every American should see,’ Roosevelt established the canyon as a National Monument. By 1919 Grand Canyon National Park Arizona was created; the park doubled in size when President Gerald Ford signed a law expanding it in 1975.

Today the canyon is a celebrated World Heritage Site, named so in 1979. It is revered for its historical importance and celebrated for its cultural relevance. It awes onlookers, inspires guests and challenges adventurers. With plenty to see and do, any tour spent discovering Grand Canyon Arizona can be a rewarding experience.

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