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Little Known Facts about the Grand Canyon The Grand Canyon can be described in one word—grand. Of course there is so much more to the Grand Canyon than just one turn of phrase. It is one of the United States’ most famous natural sites landmarks and yet not that many people truly know the details about how the Grand Canyon was formed, its scientific properties, or how to best see it. Here is an outline of the little known facts about the history and science of the Grand Canyon. Discovery of the Grand Canyon: the Story of a One-Armed Civil War Veteran The first instance of white settlers finding the Grand Canyon was Spaniard García López de Cárdenas in 1540. Cárdenas, part of Francisco Coronado’s party searching for gold, was directed to the canyon by Hopi Indians. Without the help of the Hopis (who distrusted him), Cárdenas and his group of men investigated for three days, day and night, for a way down into the valley. In the end, they only made it a third of the way down before giving up and moving on. For over two centuries, the Canyon was left to those Native Americans who had inhabited the land for thousands of years before. Then, in 1869, John Wesley Powell arrived on the scene. After losing his arm at the Battle of Shiloh during the Civil War, Powell became interested in rocks and accepted a position at Illinois Wesleyan University as a professor of geology. He undertook a tour of the Grand Canyon through the Colorado River, losing three men and two boats along the way. Combined with the arrival of the railroad a year later, Powell’s account of the expedition coined the term “Grand Canyon” and attracted nation-wide attention. The Scientific Mystery of the Grand Canyon Funny enough, we do not actually know when the Grand Canyon was formed. While most scientists agree that it was formed through an erosion process lasting over a long time (3-6 million years), its age is still up for debate. One recent study suggested that it might be as old as 70 million years. Others suggest it is only 17 million years old. While the Canyon’s age and origins remain a mystery, there is a lot we do know about its science. Here are some interesting facts: ● ● ● ● ● ●

The Grand Canyon is 277 miles long and varies from 4 to 18 miles wide It is the third largest canyon in the world after the Barranca de Cabre in Northern Mexico and Hell's Canyon in Idaho The entire Grand Canyon is actually tilted: the North Rim is 1200 feet higher in elevation than the South Rim It is home to over 250 to 300 species of birds, 88 species of mammals, 25 types of reptiles and five species of amphibians Per hour, over 800 million gallons of water run through it The bottom of the Grand Canyon is about 1/3 of the world’s age

How to Tour the Grand Canyon There are many ways to experience to historical and scientific wonder of the Grand Canyon: helicopter, bus, airplane, boat, or horse. The South Rim, host of the Grand Canyon National Park, is the center of most visitor activity. For more information on Grand Canyon tours, please contact us.


About Papillon Papillon is one of the industry leaders in leading tours of the Grand Canyon. They offer stunning views and the ability to learn all about the history, science and geography of the region. You can choose the type of travel that’s right for you, whether it is by plane, helicopter, bus or raft.

For more information visit us at: http://www.papilion.com


Little Known Facts about the Grand Canyon