Whether you’ve explored the beauty and majesty of the Grand Canyon for yourself or you’ve simply seen it portrayed on a screensaver, it’s safe to say that the Grand Canyon is one of the most recognizable sights in the U.S. However, though it might be one of the most popular tourist destinations around, many people still don’t know much about it.
As an awe-inspiring destination, it doesn’t get much better than this stunning rock formation, a natural beauty that offers us an insight into millions of years of history. By sky, you can see the raw power of the canyon in all of its glory, looking down on the strength of nature with a view only the luckiest people ever get a chance to experience. Here, we’ll tell you just a few incredible facts about the Grand Canyon to make your next trip even more inspiring.
1. The Canyon Creates its Own Climate
The different depths of the Grand Canyon do a lot more than simply create a stunning aerial view for those during a helicopter tour. Because of the various changes in elevation, there are large differences between temperature and precipitation in different areas of the gorge. In other words, the Canyon makes its own weather, through microclimates. In general, each microclimate has a temperature increase of 5.5 degrees for every 1,000-foot loss of elevation.
2. It’s Not Even the Deepest in the World
Many tourists mistakenly believe that the Grand Canyon is the deepest canyon in the world. However, although the number one landmark in Arizona might be the most stunning natural formation around, it’s not the deepest. That title belongs to the Yarlung Tsangpo canyon in Tibet, with a depth of nearly 20,000 feet. By comparison, the Grand Canyon reaches a depth of slightly more than a mile (about 6,000 feet).
3. Its Age is Uncertain
Just as the overall depth of canyons is difficult to determine, scientists also have some trouble with age too. Until very recently, estimates suggested a history of around six million years, however, the answer may not be that straightforward. Over the last decade, attempts to analyze canyon minerals have updated the estimates to something closer to 70 million years old. This confusion comes from the fact that interpreting the history of erosion isn’t quite straightforward.
4. You Won’t Find Any Dinosaurs in the Grand Canyon
While the Grand Canyon is undoubtedly brimming with a range of fossils outlining the creatures that lived and grew in Arizona, there’s been no evidence of dinosaurs. The rock making up the canyon is older than the dinosaurs, but the actual canyon is unlikely to have formed until after the dinosaur extinction. The fossil record is still robust, however. Fossils you can find here range from marine life dating back 1.2 billion years to land mammals over 10,000 years old.
5. Native Americans Own the Skywalk
If you take a trip along the West Rim of the Grand Canyon, you’ll see the world-famous Grand Canyon West Skywalk, which allows visitors to practically walk on air over the stunning gorge. Back when it was first built, the Skywalk created huge amounts of controversy from environmentalists. Today, it’s a popular attraction that lies within the Hualapai tribal reservation. The Hualapai commissioned the construction of the Skywalk about a decade ago and continue to own it today.
6. The Canyon Has its Own Town
Speaking of the natives around the Grand Canyon, some continue to live in the gorge today. Many people don’t realize that the Canyon has its own human population, with Supai Village sitting right at the base of the Grand Canyon, inside of the Havasupai Indian Reservation. There are only 208 residents in the town, and the post is still delivered by mule.
7. We’re Still Not Entirely Sure How It Formed
Finally, although some scientific evidence suggests the Colorado River dug the canyon 5 or 6 million years ago, many people still aren’t sure exactly how the location formed. Scientists disagree over the belief that the river carved the canyon in full, or whether an ancient canyon already existed. Some research has found that rocks in the western side of the canyon eroded around 70 million years ago.
Explore the Grand Canyon
As the most popular tourist attraction in Arizona, and one of the most stunning examples of the power of nature, the Grand Canyon is a sight to behold. As scientists continue to discover new things about the area, it’s likely that new awe-inspiring facts will continue to emerge. For now, it’s up to you to make your own mind up about the Grand Canyon by viewing it from above and even from within — with a helicopter tour. Whether you’re looking for a tour that leaves from Las Vegas or Phoenix, The Tour Exchange can help you plan the ultimate Grand Canyon adventure at the best price you’ll find anywhere.