|Kaibab National Forest||National parks||46km|
At several points, the Grand Canyon is carved nearly 1500 meters into the surface. The canyon´s profile reveals precambric and paleozoic rock layers. Each of them is different in color. According to research, the canyon is nearly 5 or 6 million years old. It is flown through by the wild water of the Colorado. The canyon is 277 miles (446 km) long. Its width varies from 5 miles (8 km) to 18 miles (29 km) . Although the distance between the canyon´s rims is mere 10 miles, to drive a car from the information center in the southern part of the canyon (South Rim) to the information center located on the opposite side (North Rim) , you will need five hours! Local roads are extremely narrow and mostly very steep.
The Grand Canyon National Park comprises two parts: the South Rim and the most remote and less visited North Rim. When tourists arrive to the South Rim in summer, many of them just spend a short while: they just look down the canyon, take some pictures, - and leave, because summer weather is just cruel. Anyway, if you can come sometime during a little bit colder fall or towards the end of the winter, you can climb down the canyon, to the Colorado River. It will be a truly unforgettable experience forever. However, the descend is not recommendable for people whose physical condition is poor. The trail is very steep, narrow and rocky, and the elevation you have cover is equal to one mile. What is more, you have to climb up exactly the same elevation to get back..The National Park administration provides most exposed points with signs showing a happy young man. When you come closer, it reads, "Many of them looked like this", in order to warn visitors and make them not overestimate their stamina.
Everywhere throughout the region of the Grand Canyon you will come across signs and traces of ancient Native American inhabitants. The oldest artifacts are miniature twig figures of animals made by hunters and gatherers about 4000 years ago. The history of the canyon is connected with John Wesley Powell, a one-armed veteran of the Civil War. In 1869, he led the very first expedition to explore the Colorado River. Towards the end of the 19th century, Mormon missionaries began settling in this part of Arizona. Along with them, adventurers and prospectors would come, in search for gold and valuable minerals. Actually, they did not find much within this locality. In 1882 a miner named John Hance decided that catering to tourist would be more profitable than mining in the rocks. Several simple lodges then were built at the bottom of the canyon for the tourists who are able to descend down on foot or on horseback.
The area of the Grand Canyon National Park is extremely important from the view of nature conservation. The region is the habitat to over 2000 fauna and flora species, including the gray-and-green squirrels whose color perfectly fits the colour of the near and distant rocks. Grand Canyon National Park is the place where nature is nature, wild animal is wild animal, and distant views are really distant. In 1908, the Grand Canyon was declared the national monument. It became the National Park some time later, in 1919. In 1979 the Grand Canyon was registered as the UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The main information center is located in the Grand Canyon Village, approximately 6 miles to the north of the south entrance to the canyon. The park has an automated system with information about everything you may need, from the weather forecast to applying for the Colorado-running permit on the raft. Entrance to the park is $20 per vehicle and $10 per biker or pedestrian. The ticket is valid for seven days. Permits ahead of time are required for any activity in this area. If you decide to hike down the canyon, plenty of water to carry is a must. Make sure you wear quality sports footwear. Rangers strictly recommend that rim-to-river hikes should be done overnight, and for obvious reasons: climbing out after a long climb down is extremely strenuous. It is not very wise to lean out of rocky cliffs as the depth underneath is immense. The same applies to entering the canyon when a storm is approaching.
It is not a good idea to plan a trip to the Grand Canyon in June as it is the driest month. July and August are the wettest. In January, you get frozen at night or early morning while in summer the temperature inside the canyon is literally killing - it rises above 100 F nearly every day. The South Rim is open all year but great majority of visitors arrive during the summer holidays, which means that between Memorial Day and Labor Day the trail which leads to the Colorado River is overcrowded. The Grand Canyon is the second most visited locality for American newlyweds, when it comes to honeymoon -the second after the Niagara Falls .
There are lots of marked trails in the canyon and in the surrounding area. The most popular and recommended trail is called the Bright Angel Trail. It is led from the South Rim, 6900 feet) to the Plateau Point (3800 feet) and it is a strenuous, all-day hike. On the way, you can take a rest at two rest houses: after 1 1/2 mile (1130- foot elevation drop) and then after 3 more miles (2100-foot elevation drop) . From Indian Gardens, a campground, you can continue to the Colorado, to the Bright Angel Campground 9 1/2 miles from the rim) . Not far from there you will come across the Phantom Ranch with water, food and a ranger station.
Every year over 20, 000 people run the white water rapids in non-motorized boats or canoes. Most of them are commercial trips as the waiting list for private trips is 10 years. The trip is $200 per person (including meals) .
Air tours have been much criticized as they ruin the natural quiet of the nature in the Grand Canyon locality. They are available from the airport in Tusayan.
Most tours within the park are operated by the Fred Harvey Company. A one day mule trip to Plateau Point takes about seven hours ($100) . Two-day mule trips, a night at Phantom Ranch, are $225 (including meals and dormitory accommodation) . Winter prices are somehow more user-friendly (three-day trip, two nights at Phantom Ranch, $355) .
The South Rim is easier to access than the North Rim and this is why it attracts some 90% of the visitors. Once there, you can visit the Yavapai Museum and admire precious geological findings. Another option is to explore the history and the life of Native Americans in the Tusayan Museum.
The North and the South Rims differ in elevation, access and number of tourists. The North Rim is over 8000 above sea level. Summers are cooler and wetter, and the forests at the rim are thicker than in the area of the South Rim. .