April 24, 2018

The "Grand" Daddy of Them All

by Steve W

After spending a week visiting Utah's national parks, we realized that we had not seen enough red rocks and natural wonders, so we decided to drop down to Arizona and go to the South Rim of Grand Canyon National Park.

This area is part of the Grand Staircase, a vast geographic region that stretches from the Bryce Canyon area to the Grand Canyon. Over millennia, the rock layers have been uplifted, tilted, and eroded, creating a series of plateaus that can be visualized as a staircase extending over hundreds of miles. Bryce Canyon's bottom layer is Zion's top layer, and Zion's bottom layer is the Grand Canyon's top layer.

We stayed in Flagstaff, about 60 miles from the south entrance. Although it was very cold, the sun was out and it was a beautiful day for sightseeing.

I recalled that when we visited the Grand Canyon 10 years ago, you had to walk through a parking lot to get to the rim, where you got your first glimpse of the canyon. It was breathtaking then and, even though I knew what to expect, is still breathtaking now.

The canyon was carved by the Colorado River over millions of years and is 277 river miles long (a river mile is a measure of distance in miles along a river from its mouth), up to 18 miles across and over one mile deep.

Offering some unparalleled views, words can hardly describe the scenery, so here are some photos and a video:

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As in the other parks, the layers of color in the rock indicate the evolution of the land now forming the canyon walls before they were eaten away by the river and wind.

Even though there was some snow, there were hikers on the Bright Angel Trail at the lower levels of the canyon. First, a long shot for perspective (with the trail circled). then a closer look at some of the hikers.

Not being daredevils (or idiots, depending on your viewpoint), we stayed on the rim.

Given the height of the canyon walls and the wide open spaces, it would be natural for people with drones to try to get better views of the park from above the canyons, but...

There is also a monument to John Wesley Powell who, in 1869, was the first man of European descent to navigate the Colorado River that flows through the canyon.

And the lovely views continue!

Hey Dude, you're blocking the view!
Toward the late afternoon, we headed for the east side of the park. An informative sign helped identify what we were seeing.

Here is a good shot of the Colorado River as it flows through the canyon. We could see small portions of it from other locations, but this is the place where the largest section is visible.

As the sun got lower in the sky, the difference in the angle of the light gave us a different perspective on the canyon.

After a long day in the canyon, we headed back to Flagstaff for some dinner and a good night's sleep. But the beauty and grandeur of the canyon remain in our memories (and in these photos).

Yes, it is as cold as it looks!

Note: We were here in February.

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