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Interesting Facts About The Grand Canyon

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Photo credit: Getty Images

The number of people who never heard of the Grand Canyon is, unlike the canyon itself, probably very small. This nature’s wonder is a steep-sided canyon, majestically carved by the Colorado River. It’s located in Arizona, USA. Its preservation is very important to everyone who lives not only in the state, but in the whole country.

It is contained within and managed by the Grand Canyon National Park, the Hualapai Tribal Nation, and the Havasupai Tribe. President Theodore Roosevelt himself was fighting for the preservation of the whole area.

Depth, Length And Width

It may be one of the most spectacular, but it’s not the longest or deepest canyon. Its average depth is about 1 mile (1.6 kilometers). The canyon ranges from 2,400 feet (731 meters) deep below Yavapai Point on the South Rim to 7,800 feet (2,377 m) deep at the North Rim.

The canyon wends 277 miles (446 km) along its curved path. At its narrowest, at Marble Canyon, the Grand Canyon is only 600 yards (548 meters) across, while at its widest, the canyon stretches for 18 miles (29 kilometers). On average, the canyon is only 10 miles (16 km) wide from rim to rim. Crossing it by foot takes 21 miles (33 km), and driving by car is a 251-mile (403 km), five-hour journey.

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Photo credit: Getty Images

Geological History

The Colorado River cuts through a schist, a type of metamorphic rock that is 1.75 billion years old. That’s nearly half the age of the Earth (which is 4.5 billion years old)! How amazing is that? Because schists are metamorphic rocks, which form from the alteration of other rocks under high temperatures and pressures, they represent even more ancient marine and volcanic rocks.

Pink Snakes, Why Not?

If you like snakes and the color pink, this is your happy place.

Six rattlesnake species can be spotted in the park boundaries, and one of them has an unusual pink hue that matches the local rocks!

The Grand Canyon pink rattlesnake is the most common snake in the park.

It’s Name

The Paiute Indian tribe calls the canyon Kaibab, which means “mountain lying down” or “mountain turned upside down.” One-armed war veteran John Wesley Powell, who actually charted the Colorado River’s course in 1891 and 1892 in a wooden boat, was the first to consistently use the name “Grand Canyon.”

Scientist Drama

Scientists still argue over how the Grand Canyon was formed. Strong geologic evidence suggests the Colorado River broke out of the west end of the Grand Canyon about five million years ago. But with that said, there is a debate about what the canyon looked like in the millions of years before that happened.

Did the river carve the canyon all at once or was some gorge already? One study found some rocks at the western end were eroded and exposed at the surface 70 million years ago. The drama continues.