Grand Canyon National Park is so beautiful and spectacular that people who see it have difficulty expressing themselves. Because the area is so huge (it can be seen from outer space) it defies description and is hard to capture adequately in photographs because of the immense scale. However, it is, without question, one of the most, if not the most, significant natural landscape on the planet and, for that reason, a must-see for all people of the world who value travel! It is basically a gigantic gash in the earth’s crust, carved by a river or successive rivers over millions of years. What today’s visitors see are layers of multi-colored sandstone lining the walls of the canyon and huge mesas and buttes rising from the depths to fill much of the space. At the bottom of it all is the thin, muddy Colorado River which winds its way through (it defies imagination to realize that this tiny river has helped to create this masterpiece although geologists know that it was significantly larger in the past).
Considering the immensity of the Grand Canyon (over 300 km or 200 miles long, 16 km or 10 miles wide and a mile deep) the park area which can be visited is remarkably compact (only about 32 km or 20 miles long on both the North Rim (less accessible and less crowded) and the South Rim (the major visitor area and extremely crowded during the summer months).
Looking down into the canyon means looking back over almost 2 billion years of earth history and is a geological bonanza for scientists. But the average person is unaware of that and is just able to appreciate the incredible beauty of the place.
Different overlooks, such as Mather Point, Hopi Point and Grandview Point on both West Rim and East Rim Drive give the observer different views and even different perspectives on the canyon. There are many such overlooks, so be sure to check them all out.
Try to be in the park until evening to see the area’s transformation as light diminishes and shadows creep across the abyss.
1. See the IMAX presentation before heading to the viewing areas to better understand what can be seen.
2. Bring lots of water, especially for a descent into the canyon. And do descend into the canyon either on foot or by mule to get a totally different perspective.
3. A particularly good vantage point is from the top of the watchtower at Desert View.
4. Acrophobics beware! The newest attraction at the canyon is a glass platform which protrudes 70 feet (24 meters) beyond the canyon rim and affords very unusual views of the canyon floor directly below. This attraction, called the Grand Canyon Skywalk, is located at the Hualapai Indian Reservation, which, unfortunately, is inconvenient to get to. Although only about 90 miles (150 kilometers) west of the South Rim Visitor Center, it requires a drive of almost 250 miles (400 kilometers) because of the lack of roads in the area. Once on the reservation, there is an additional 14 mile (20 kilometer) drive on windy, unpaved roads to reach the attraction. The tribe offers a variety of tour packages which include access to the skywalk. Don’t fret too much about the possibility of the glass breaking since it has been built to withstand over 70 million pounds of weight, winds of over 100 miles per hour, and an earthquake of magnitude 8.0. In addition, the number of visitors on the glass bridge is restricted to 120 at a time.