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The Grand Canyon
“The Grand Canyon of Arizona is beyond comprehension. It is the sum total of all the aspects of nature combined in one integrated whole. It is at once the smile and the frown upon the face of Nature. In its heart is the savage, uncontrollable fury of all the inanimate universe, and at the same time the immeasurable serenity that succeeds it. But always, in whatever mood, it grips and humbles and uplifts – for here is the ultimate in beauty and grandeur.” Grand Canyon National Park by Robert Scharff 1967.
Two billion years of geologic history are on display for you to view. The GC has more Paleozoic and Pre-Cambrian rock exposed than any other place in the world.
The Colorado River is a powerful force in the GC. It’s continuing to carve the canyon. Prior to the building of the Glen Canyon dam, the Colorado River moved 400,000 tons of silt each and every day.
The Grand Canyon is 280 miles long and starts near the junction of the Paria and Colorado Rivers and runs to the Arizona and Nevada border. The Grand Canyon separates the Coconino Plateau on the south from the Kaibab Plateau on the north. There are many side canyons within the Grand Canyon and an intermediate plateau, known as the Tonto which runs 3,500 – 3,700 feet below the South Rim.
The elevation at the South Rim is 7,000 feet. The South Rim is a flat plateau with pine forests. The South Rim receives most of the Grand Canyon visitors because of the good roads available to access the Grand Canyon Village and milder winters which make it accessible year round.
The North Rim at 8,200 feet is just over 1,000 feet higher than the South Rim. The North Rim is a bit more difficult to get to, especially in the winter months. The North Rim is only open from mid-May through mid-November and the closing is predicated on the weather. Winters on the North Rim can be pretty brutal and once the roads are closed, all facilities within the park are closed as well.
With the limited access the North Rim sees only about 10% of the visitors as the south. Many visitors are of the opinion that the North Rim views are better as they provide a more stretched out view of the buttes and ridges. The North Rim with its reduced number of visitors is more laid back and provides a more unhurried experience.
Like the South Rim, the entrance to the North Rim is open 24 hours and is staffed from 7:00 am to 7:00 pm. There are many ways to visit the Grand Canyon. Many people that visit the Phoenix-metro area just add an extra day to their trip and make the 3.5 hour drive to the canyon. How to visit the Grand Canyon from Las Vegas is a popular article we wrote detailing other ways to visit the Grand Canyon.
There are a number of hotels close to the South Rim of the Grand Canyon. You can also stay ‘in’ the park at the El Tovar or Bright Angel Lodge. Make your reservations early as hotels near the Grand Canyonfill up well in advance of the check in date.