The Grand Canyon is one of Earth's most powerful inspiring landscapes - it overwhelms our senses. Its story tell of geologic processes played out over unimaginable time spans as a unique combination of size, color, and dazzling erosional forms. The Colorado River is 277 miles long, up to 18 miles wide, and a mile deep. Its rugged landscape hosts a fascinating variety of plant and animal communities, from the desert next to the Colorado River deep in the canyon to montane forests atop its North Rim.
Humans have played parts in the story for thousands of years. Broken spear points, enigmatic split-twig figurines, decorated pots, abandoned mines, and historic hotels suggest some who have called the canyon home.
The Grand Canyon reveals a beautiful sequence of rock layers that serve as windows into time. The carving of the canyon is only the most recent chapter, a geologic blink of an eye, in a long story. That long story includes rock nearly two billion years old in the bottom of the canyon, land masses colliding and drifting apart, mountains forming and eroding away, sea levels rising and falling, and relentless forces of moving water.
|Colorado River down at the bottom|
Several factors make Grand Canyon's geology remarkable. Many canyons form a rivers cascade among mountain peaks, but Grand Canyon sits incised into an elevated plateau. The desert landscape exposes the geology to view. It is not hidden under a cloak of vegetation. The strata revealed preserver a lengthy, although incomplete, record of Earth's history.