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What is the Grand Canyon?

Grand Canyon

Summary

Arizona’s Grand Canyon National Park is the 2nd most visited U.S. national park, and the singularly most stunning park of the southwest. Covering an area larger than 1.2 million acres (1,217,403 acres to be exact) the park is nearly divided in half by a massive system of canyons, some up to a mile deep, carved long ago by Rocky Mountain melt-water. Exposing layer upon layer of ancient rock, the Colorado River still flows slowly through the park slowly eroding and deepening on of the world’s greatest natural marvels. An impressive 4,298,178 people visit the Grand Canyon annually, working out to 3.5 visitors per acre.

From the South Rim, the most visited side and the most accessible, visitors can view the rare and mighty California condor soaring on 10-foot wings, or the carefully measured walk of the elusive Big Horn Sheep. A variety of different plants and trees also grow in the park, with many different ecosystems owing their existence to the park’s different elevations and moisture levels.

Activities and opportunities for the adventurers and first time visitors are numerous, with half to 15 day rafting trips as well as multiple museums and scenic drives along the canyon rim its self. There are also many hike of all difficulty in the park, with many dipping down into the canyon its self. Some of these hikes drop more than 4000 feet into the canyon and come face to face with the Colorado River its self. For those looking for a less strenuous traverse into the Canyon, there are guided mule trains that descend down almost 2500 feet.

For those looking for a multiple-day stay in the Park, RV campsites and other designated campsites, as well as various lodges, both in the canyon and on the rims, offer a varied levels of comfort. However, the parks fame and beauty come at a cost however. Over 4 million visitors travel to see the park each year, meaning that there is a high demand for camping and lodging, a well as the river tours and mule rides. Regardless of your style or length of stay, Grand Canyon National Park will awe you throughout your stay and leave you wanting more.

Animals

Many lage animals found in Grand Canyons National Park are very shy and elusive, seeing any of these animals is very special.

Flowers

For plant and flower enthusiasts, elevations ranging from 7,000 to 10,500 feet offers an incredible array of plants and trees. If the hordes of majestically wild animals and fields of springtime flowers don’t leave you speechless, the incredibly vivid colors of the Grand Prismatic Spring and the towering geyser of Old Faithful most certainly will.

What To See

Follow these famous marvels up with a visit to the otherworldly, tiered pools of Mammoth Springs, where millions of years of calcification have turned the earth into a gorgeous landscape of steaming terraces. With hundreds of thermal vents and pools throughout the park, most connected by steaming boardwalks, Yellowstone will surely be a visit of lasting memories. For those looking to make their visit into a multi-day affair., ample camping and hotel accommodation of all styles is available throughout the year.

Camping

There are several very important things to know about backcountry camping in the Grand Canyon. First off is the permit process, which must be applied for well in advance of your planned excursion. The earliest date to apply for a permit is 4 months in advance, but with a limited number of permits handed out each month, spots are filled quickly. Forms can be obtained from the National Parks Service website, http://www.nps.gov/grca/planyourvisit/backcountry-permit.htm. A fee of $10 per permit and $5 per person per night applies to all rim and canyon campers. Permits must always be kept in possession while camping. Back country hikers should exercise extreme caution when camping in the summer or winter months, particularly on the North Rim and in the Canyon. Temperatures and weather can change rapidly on the north rim, while hiking in the canyon can be dangerous due to high temperatures and irregular water resources. Ask at ranger stations before attempting any backcountry camping.