Located in northwestern Arizona, the Grand Canyon is a natural wonder every American should see. Widely considered one of the seven natural wonders of the world, the canyon, formed by millions of years of erosion, wind, rain and the Colorado River, stretches an impressive 227 miles long and averages over ten miles wide. The Canyon’s inner-depths expose the Earth’s history with rocks dating back 250 million years to 2 billion years old.
Today the Grand Canyon hosts 6 million visitors a year, making it the second-most visited US national park after the much more accessible Great Smoky Mountains. Tourists flock to marvel at the canyon’s jaw-dropping immensity, and the sheer spectacle of how the Colorado River carved through layer after layer of rock to expose an ombre of reds, browns, pinks, purples and more.
The Colorado Plateau, through which the canyon is cut, was once the bottom of a shallow sea. Along the rim, visitors can still find fossilized snails, corals, and shellfish. Around 20 million years ago the land was pushed upwards and the sea retreated. Around six million years ago the Colorado River changed its course and started cutting its way across the Plateau. The uplift also added new tributaries to the river, increasing the river’s flow and adding many of the side canyons. Water let loose from the glaciers of the ice ages also increased the amount of water that was moving down the river and giving it more power to erode the stone. Within two million years the river had sliced a path into the rock that was only 500 feet higher than the bottom of the canyon is today.
Scattered around the village are trailheads to paths including the 4.7-mile (7.5-km) Uncle Jim Loop, the 9.6-mile (15.45-km) Widforss Trail to a…