GRAND CANYON VISITORS INFORMATION
HOW BIG IS THE GRAND CANYON?
The park includes over a million acres of land: 1,218,376 acres / 493,077 hectares, or 1,904 square miles / 4931 square km. Most people measure the canyon in Colorado River miles. By that standard, Grand Canyon is 277 miles / 446 km long. It begins at Lees Ferry and ends at Grand Wash Cliffs.
The Colorado River is longer than Grand Canyon, flowing 1450 miles / 2333 km from the Rocky Mountains of Colorado to the Gulf of California in Mexico. Grand Canyon is only one of many beautiful canyons carved by the river. Others include Cataract Canyon and Glen Canyon, the latter now lying beneath the waters of Lake Powell. Most people agree, however, that Grand Canyon is the most spectacular. No other place in the world looks quite like it.
Width and depth of the canyon vary from place to place. At the South Rim, it's a vertical mile or about 5000 feet from rim to river, or 7 miles / 11.3 km by trail. At its deepest, it is 6000 vertical feet / 1829 m from rim to river. The width of the canyon at Grand Canyon Village is 10 miles / 16 km (rim to rim), though in places it is as much as 18 miles / 29 km wide.
ARE THERE DAMS IN THE GRAND CANYON?
No dams exist within Grand Canyon National Park, although dams bordering the park have a profound effect on the canyon. At the upper end of the canyon, 15 miles / 24 km above Lees Ferry, is Lake Powell, formed by the waters behind Glen Canyon Dam. This dam was completed in 1963. At the lower end of the canyon is Lake Mead, formed by the waters behind Hoover Dam (Formally called Boulder Dam). This dam was completed in 1936.
HOW OLD IS THE GRAND CANYON?
That's a tricky question. Although rocks exposed in the walls of the canyon are geologically quite old, the Canyon itself is a fairly young feature. The oldest rocks at the canyon bottom are close to 2000 million years old. The Canyon itself, an erosional feature, has formed only in the past five or six million years. Geologically speaking, Grand Canyon is very young.
The Grand Canyon is unmatched throughout the world in the incomparable vistas it offers to visitors on the rim. The Grand Canyon is known throughout the world for its overwhelming size and its intricate and colorful landscape. Geologically it is significant because of the thick sequence of ancient rocks that are beautifully preserved and exposed in the walls of the canyon. These rock layers record much of the early geological history of the North American continent.
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Updated Wednesday, October 11, 2017.