Grand Canyon National Park Visitor's Center
Backstory and Context
The canyon encompasses 1,218,375 acres and lies on the Colorado Plateau in northwestern Arizona. Typical of southwestern states, the land is semi-arid. Drainage systems have cut deeply through the rock, forming numerous steep-walled canyons consisting of raised plateaus and structural basins. The lower elevations within the canyon are more desert-like while the higher elevations consist of a cooler climate giving life to forests. Due to a rich fossil record and a diverse collection of rock forms, the Grand Canyon is a significant part of scientific exploration.
Aside from scientific contributions, many different Native American tribes have resided within the Grand Canyon. The first people known to live in the Grand Canyon were the ancient Puebloans who, according to current consensus, emerged around 1200 BCE. The ancient Puebloans are the ancestors to the modern day Pueblo people. The Cohonina lived to the west of the Grand Canyon, between 500 and 1200 CE. The Cohonina were ancestors of the Yuman, Havasupai, and Walapai peoples who inhabit the area today. The Sinagua were a cultural group occupying an area to the southeast of the Grand Canyon, between the Little Colorado River and the Salt River, between approximately 500 and 1425 CE. The Sinagua may have been ancestors of several Hopi clans.
Before the late 1800’s, the Grand Canyon was not protected by the government. Eventually, the American government stepped in to protect this beautiful landmark. It was first granted protection as a Forest Reserve in 1893 and in 1906, President Theodore Roosevelt created the Grand Canyon Game Preserve. President Theodore Roosevelt spent a lot of time visiting the Grand Canyon during his adventures and became a major proponent of its preservation. The Grand Canyon became a national monument in 1908 and in 1919 President Wilson signed the law that designated Grand Canyon National Park as the 17th U.S. National Park. UNESCO (United Nations Educations, Scientific, and Cultural Organization) also have declared the Grand Canyon as a World Heritage Site. Many people have worked together to preserve this natural wonder.
For those who crave adventure, the park has a plethora of exciting outdoor activities to take part in. Rafting, hiking, running, helicopter, and Pink Jeep tours are especially popular. The valley floor, nearly 6,000 feet deep at its deepest point, is accessible by foot, muleback, boat, or raft from upriver. Although rescues are required annually for unsuccessful rim-to-river-to-rim travelers, hundreds of fit and experienced hikers complete the trip every year. These are just a few of the many outdoor activities available.
The Grand Canyon has a great deal of history and activities to offer for everyone. Besides the beautiful view, there is also a rich history to be enjoyed and a wide array of activities for the visitor.
"History and Culture." National Park Service. Accessed October 27, 2016. https://www.nps.gov/grca/learn/historyculture/index.htm
Photo Credits: Liz Adams.