The Great Canyon
Driving through Arizona, Briar accidentally kept referring to the Grand Canyon as the “Great” Canyon. Hearing the canyon’s majesty being demoted to “great” was enough to make us laugh every time. It became a running gag and soon everyone started referring to it as the “Great” Canyon. Though this family now lovingly refers to the Grand Canyon as the “Great Canyon”, its original moniker doesn’t lie; it truly is grand.
Not having seen the Grand Canyon before this trip, Rob and I were able to share our first-time experience of the canyon with our children. I felt fortunate to have such a monumental moment with them. Being able to be there with them, seeing their wonderment but also experiencing my own, is a memory I will always treasure.
There is just so much to take in visually when you initially see the Grand Canyon, your brain can hardly stand it. It is a marvel of nature, to say the least. Much like the Meteor Crater I wrote about last week, the Grand Canyon is something that must be viewed in order to truly feel it. There are no pictures that can demonstrate its grandeur. Visiting the park is the only way you can experience the stirring of emotions as you gaze upon this wondrous canyon.
Rob actually recorded our initial reaction to seeing the Canyon. You can hear me say, “Oh my god,” a few times. My favorite part is towards the middle of the video when the twins go, “Ooooooh,” simultaneously. The area we are approaching in the video below is fenced, but there were areas a little farther down the way that are open and have no fence at all. We had our weekly family meeting by a sloped edge of the canyon where there was no fence. It is unbelievable when I think about it.
Some little tidbits of information from the National Park Service and Wikipedia:
- The Grand Canyon covers 1,218,375 acres
- Caused mostly by the Colorado River but also wind and rain, the Canyon has been carved over millions of years of erosion
- It reaches depths of 6,000 feet, but its average depth is 4,000 feet
- The canyon is 277 miles long
- At its widest point, it is 18 miles across
- Over 600 people have died in the Grand Canyon since 1870. Many deaths are due to falling, hikers taking on bigger challenges than they can handle, drowning in the Colorado River, suicide, and homicide
- Grand Canyon National Park officially became the 17th U.S. National Park on February 26, 1919
- According to the National Park Service, the Canyon itself is only 5 or 6 million years old (I also found estimates of 17-70 million years old), but the rocks at the bottom of the canyon are 2 billion years old
I want to end this post with a comment from President Teddy Roosevelt and what he thought about the Grand Canyon, “Leave it as it is. The ages have been at work on it, and man can only mar it. What you can do is to keep it for your children, your children’s children, and for all who come after you, as one of the great sights which every American should see.”
You are so, so right about not truly being able to appreciate it unless you see it in person. You appreciate it EVEN MORE if you go down into it. Back in college, I took a trip with other folks from the physics department (the first half of the trip was spent observing at the Lowell Observatory as a rationale) where we hiked to and camped at the bottom of the Grand Canyon. From the rim it’s amazing, but then you go down inside of it and the tiny features you saw become bigger… and bigger… and bigger… and you’re still NOWHERE NEAR THEM. You hike for hours and you’re barely halfway to the bottom. The rim and the bottom have different WEATHER at the same time. We went in late March, and there was ice and snow at the rim to the point we needed crampons, and it was warm to hot at the bottom. It’s so far that the park service specifically says you should NOT try to go to the bottom and back in one day if you value your life. It definitely ranks as one of the most fantastic things I’ve ever done.
I love the Canyon. These pictures are great, but you’re right. Pictures will never capture the wonder of standing at the edge. I would love to just find a spot with nobody around, sit for hours and soak it in but I’m always with other people. In fact, every time I find someone who hasn’t seen it I drag them up there where even the ones who snark “it’s just a big hole in the ground” always change their tune when they actually see it firsthand.
Great pics. I haven’t been since I was a kid and had forgotten just how cool it was.