The Grand Canyon is 277 miles long, up to 18 miles wide and attains a depth of over a mile. This is one of the reasons photos just can’t do the canyon justice, even standing at its rim, the human eye has trouble grasping the distance and depth.
Nearly two billion years of the Earth’s geological history have been exposed as the Colorado River and its tributaries cut their channels through layer after layer of rock while the Colorado Plateau was uplifted. While scientists debate the timing of the activity, most recent evidence suggests the Colorado River established its course through the canyon at least 17 million years ago
For thousands of years, the area has been continuously inhabited by Native Americans who built settlements within the canyon and its many caves. The Pueblo people considered the Grand Canyon (“Ongtupqa” in Hopi language) a holy site and made pilgrimages to it (I totally understand why!). Some of the earliest European’s to view the canyon were Spaniards who were guided by the Hopi to the south rim. One of the most documented and a famous expedition was John Wesley Powell in 1869. Once the railroad was established in 1901, tourism really boosted the area to prominence with one of the buildings on the rim being a Harvey restaurant and hotel. Its history and that of the “Harvey Girls” is illustrated on the site and in my pictures…a little shout out to one of my favorite Judy Garland movies (1946).
The extreme changes in elevation from canyon floor to rim support a wide range of plant and animal species. The lower canyon has a lot of desert areas as well as marsh areas near the river itself. The rim has ponderosa pine forests, Aspen trees, Juniper groves as well as Montane forests. The unique animal inhabitants of the canyon area include the Humpback Chub fish, Big Horn Sheep, Canyon Rattlesnakes, The Pinyon Jay, Mountain Lions, Wild Turkeys, Mule Deer and Two distinct species of Squirrels that were once a single species (North Rim: Kaibab and South Rim Abert) that adapted to the different climates of the diametrically opposed rims.