- How big is it?
- That depends on how you look at it. The park includes over a
million acres of land - 1,218,375.54 acres / 493,077 hectares,
to be exact, or 1,904 square miles / 4931 square kilometers. But
most people measure the canyon in river miles, along the course
of the Colorado River at the bottom of the canyon. By that
standard, Grand Canyon is 277 miles / 446 km long. It begins at
Lees Ferry (mile 0) and ends at the Grand Wash Cliffs (mile 277
/ km 446). The Colorado River is longer, of course: 1450 miles /
2333 km long from the Rocky Mountains of Colorado to the Gulf of
California in Mexico. Grand Canyon is only one of many beautiful
canyons which the river has carved. Others include Cataract
Canyon and Glen Canyon - the latter now beneath the waters of
Lake Powell. Most people agree, however, that Grand Canyon is
the most spectacular. There's simply no other place in the world
that looks quite like it. Width and depth of the Canyon vary
from place to place. At the South Rim, near Grand Canyon
Village, it's a vertical mile (about 5,000 feet / 1524 m) from
rim to river (7 miles / 11.3 km by trail, if you're walking). At
its deepest, it is 6000 vertical feet / 1829 km 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. Here's another way to look at size: a trip
to the bottom of the Canyon and back (on foot or by mule) is a
two-day journey. Rim-to-rim hikers generally take three days one
way to get from the North Rim to the South Rim. A trip through
Grand Canyon by raft can take two weeks or longer, and
experienced backpackers have spent weeks in the more remote
areas of the Canyon.
- Are there dams in Grand Canyon?
- No, although several dams bordering the park have a profound
effect on Grand Canyon. At the upper end of the Canyon, 15 river
miles / 24 km above Lees Ferry, is Lake Powell, formed by the
waters behind Glen Canyon Dam. At the lower end of the canyon is
Lake Mead, formed by the waters behind Hoover Dam. The
controlled release of water from Glen Canyon Dam at the upstream
end affects the water that flows through Grand Canyon. Waters
from Lake Mead flood the lower 40 miles / 64 km of Grand Canyon
when the lake is full. Hoover Dam was completed in 1936. Glen
Canyon Dam was completed in 1963.
- How old is the 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
- Are the oldest rocks in the world exposed at Grand
- No. Although the oldest rocks at Grand Canyon (2000 million
years old) are fairly old by any standard, the oldest rocks in
the world are closer to 4000 million years old. The oldest
exposed rocks in North America, which are among the oldest rocks
in the world, are in northern Canada.
- When and why did Grand Canyon become a National Park?
- Grand Canyon is unmatched throughout the world in the
incomparable vistas it offers to visitors on the rim. It is not
the deepest canyon in the world (both the Barranca del Cobre in
northern Mexico and Hell's Canyon in Idaho are deeper, just to
name two), but 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. Finally, it is one of the most spectacular examples
of erosion in the world. Although first afforded Federal
protection in 1893 as a Forest Reserve and later as a National
Monument, Grand Canyon did not achieve National Park status
until 1919, three years after the creation of the National Park
Service. Today Grand Canyon National Park receives close to five
million visitors each year - a far cry from the annual
visitation of 44,173 which the park received in 1919. Grand
Canyon became a national park in order to give it the best
protection we as a nation have to offer. The mission of the
National Park Service, here and elsewhere, is to preserve the
park and all of its features, including the processes that
created them, and to provide for the enjoyment of the park by
visitors in a way that will leave the canyon unspoiled for
- How do I get to the Grand Canyon?
- The SOUTH RIM allows you several options. Common driving
routes are from Williams, Arizona (via State Route 64 from
Interstate 40) or Flagstaff (via US Highway 180). Commercial
airlines serve Phoenix, Flagstaff, and Las Vegas. There is
limited air service into Grand Canyon Airport from Las Vegas and
elsewhere. Greyhound provides bus service to Flagstaff, and
public bus transportation is available from Flagstaff to the
South Rim. Amtrak provides rail service to Flagstaff with
connecting bus service to the canyon. Grand Canyon Railway
offers vintage train service from Williams.
The NORTH RIM does not have as many options. There is no public
transportation to the North Rim other than the Trans Canyon Van
Shuttle from the South Rim. You will need to drive on US Highway
89A or State Route 389 to Jacob Lake, just south of the Utah
border, and take Highway 67 to the North Rim. You can fly into
Las Vegas and drive 263 miles one-way. Keep in mind that heavy
snows close the road to the North Rim from late October to mid
May of each year.
- How does one see the Canyon?
- Nearly five million people see Grand Canyon each year. Most
of them see it from their car at overlooks along the South Rim
(this includes Grand Canyon Village, Hermits Rest, and Desert
View). The South Rim - 60 miles / 97 km north of Williams and 80
miles / 97 km northwest of Flagstaff, Arizona - is the most
accessible part of the park and is open all year. A much smaller
number of people see the Canyon from the North Rim, which lies
just 10 miles / 16 km (as the raven flies) directly across the
Canyon from the South Rim. The North Rim rises a thousand feet
higher than the South Rim, and is much less accessible. Heavy
snows close the road to the North Rim from late October to mid
May of each year. Even in good weather it's harder to get to:
it's 220 miles / 354 km by car from the South Rim, or 21 miles /
34 km by foot across the Canyon by way of the North and South
Kaibab Trails. The inner canyon includes everything below the
rim and is seen mainly by hikers, mule riders, or river runners.
There are many opportunities here for adventurous and hardy
persons who want to backpack, ride a mule to Phantom Ranch, or
take a river trip through the Canyon on the Colorado River
(which can take anywhere from a few days to three weeks - there
are no one-day river trips through Grand Canyon). How do people
get across the canyon? If you're walking, the South Kaibab Trail
crosses the Colorado River on a narrow foot bridge 70 feet / 21
m above the water. There is only one way to cross by automobile,
and that is via Navajo Bridge, just a few miles downstream from
Lees Ferry, where the Canyon is still only 400 feet / 122 m
- When is the best time to visit the Grand Canyon?
- Expect heavy crowds during spring, summer, and fall months.
You will find fewer crowds in the early spring or late fall. The
South Rim is open year round, but heavy snows close the road to
the North Rim from late October to mid May of each year.
- Can I bring my dog along with me if I hike into the
- Pets must be physically restrained at all times. Leashed
pets are allowed on the rim trails throughout the developed
areas in the park but not below the rim. The only exception is
certified service dogs. Persons wishing to take a service dog
below the rim must check in first at the Backcountry Information
Center. There is a kennel on the South Rim but not on the North
- Do I have to make reservations for lodging at the Grand
- Yes, lodging in Grand Canyon National Park becomes
completely booked well in advance. Be sure to make reservations
as far ahead as possible. Make your reservations online at this website (http://www.nationalparktravel.com)
- How hard is it to hike into the Grand Canyon?
- Unlike hiking in mountainous terrain, Grand Canyon trails
involve a downhill trip followed by a strenuous uphill climb.
Hiking in the Grand Canyon is so demanding that even people in
excellent condition often emerge sore and fatigued. Yet it has
been hiked by small children, senior citizens, and people with
physical disabilities. The day hiker, out for just a few hours,
and the overnight backpacker must be equally prepared for the
lack of water, extreme heat and cold, and isolation
characteristic of the Grand Canyon. There are few places where
the comforts of hotels, campgrounds, shops and restaurants are
found so close to such a harsh environment. Particularly in the
summer, mental attitude and adequate water consumption are the
two most important factors in the success of any hike into the
Grand Canyon. Backcountry rangers recommend that hikers make
their first overnight trip into the inner canyon on the park's
"Corridor" trails. The Corridor is the area including and
immediately adjacent to the Bright Angel and North and South
Kaibab trails. This area includes three campgrounds: Indian
Garden, Bright Angel, and Cottonwood.
- Do I need a permit to hike into the Grand Canyon?
- Permits are not required for day hikes below the rim, but
you must obtain a backcountry permit if you plan on camping
overnight outside an established campground.
- What is the weather like at the Grand Canyon?
- Summer - Summer temperatures on the South Rim are relatively
pleasant (50°s - 80°s F; 10°s to high 20°s C) but inner canyon
temperatures are extreme. Daytime highs at the river, 5000 feet
below the rim, often exceed 100° F (38° C). North Rim summer
temperatures are cooler that those on the South Rim due to the
Winter - Winter conditions at the South Rim can be extreme:
expect snow, icy roads, and possible road closures. Temperatures
are low, and with the wind-chill factor can at times drop below
0° F (-18° C). Canyon views may be temporarily obscured during
winter storms; in such cases, entrance fees are not refundable.
The North Rim is closed in winter.
Spring and Fall - Spring and Fall weather is extremely
unpredictable; be prepared for sudden changes in the weather
during these seasons.
- Does it cost anything to enter Grand Canyon National
- Yes, entrance to the park is $25 per private vehicle, $12
pedestrian or cyclist; fees for commercial bus/tour van
passengers vary. Admission is for 7 days and includes both rims;
there are no refunds due to inclement weather. Persons holding a current
National Parks Pass (obtainable for $80 at any national park)
are admitted free. Annual Grand Canyon passports, valid for the
calendar year, are available for $50.
- What advice/travel tips do you have for
- Remember that the southwestern US is big and remote. Put a
map of your home country next the distance you plan to cover in
the USA to get an idea of what you are up against.
Transportation takes time and is often expensive. Public
transportation in northern Arizona is very limited, so find
transportation & schedules before you leave, and expect to need
some money to get around. - Many prices are "plus tax", so add
7-8% to your budget. * Common conversion factors: * temp.
Celsius = (Fahrenheit - 32) * 5 / 9. temp. Fahrenheit = Celsius
* 9 / 5 + 32. 1 pound (lb)= .45 kg 1 ounce (oz)= 1/16 pound 1
quart (qt)= .95 liters 1 gallon (gal)= 3.8 liters 1 inch (in)=
2.5 cm 1 foot (ft)= 30 cm 1 yard = .92 meters 1 mile = 1.61 Km 1
mile per hour (mph) = 1.6 Km/hr 1 "nickel" = 5 cents = 1/20 $. 1
"dime" = 10 cents = 1/10 $. 1 "quarter" = 25 cents = 1/4 $.
- What kinds of activities are available at Grand Canyon
- Gazing at the beautiful views of the canyon from the various
vista points is the number one activity for many people. People
of every age and condition can find activities to suit their
desires, including the following: hiking, rafting trips,
backpacking, mule rides or horseback rides, camping, and scenic
air tours. Bicycling is allowed on park roads.