It is believed that Grand Canyon first started taking shape more than 60-70 million years ago, when the newly forming Rocky Mountains began depositing massive amounts of melt-water across the Colorado Plateau. Different layers of sedimentary rock make up the various layers of the Grand Canyon, which became larger and larger as the various streams and tributaries of the great Colorado River carved a path towards the Pacific Ocean. The first humans to see the Grand Canyon are believed to have been migratory hunter/gatherers, whom eventually mingled with other groups to create the Pueblo Nation, who’s cliff-side dwellings populate land around the Grand Canyon.
The first Europeans to set eyes on the Grand Canyon was a Spanish Expedition, in the mid-1700s. By the mid 1800s, there was an increasing push to mine the area for zinc and copper, but this venture was halted by the increasing interests of tourists, who traversed the canyon lands by stagecoach to see the natural marvels.
In 1901, the Santa Fe Railway completed a 60-mile spur line between the town of Williams, Arizona and what would become the Grand Canyon National Park. Theodore Roosevelt first visited the rim in 1903, saying:
“The Grand Canyon fills me with awe. It is beyond comparison—beyond description; absolutely unparalleled throughout the wide world… What you can do is to keep it for your children, your children’s children, and all who come after you, as the one great sight which every American should see.”
The area, previously known as Kaibab, a Piute Indian term meaning ‘Mountain Lying Down’, finally gained National Park status on February 26th, 1917. Land was added to the park in 1932, 1969, and most recently in 1972, when President Ford signed a bill doubling the area of the Park to over 1,220,000 acres.
During the Grand Canyon’s first year as a National Park it received 44,173 visitors. Today the park sees more than 5-million visitors each year