One of the most popular sites for Hollywood westerns, the Grand Canyon is more than just a great cleft carved through the rocks of the Colorado Plateau. It is one of the most natural wonders of the world, where nature has proved the power of water over all other elements on earth. As research released in 2008 suggests, that over 17 million years ago the Grand Canyon was created by the Colorado River.
The canyon is about 277 miles (446 km) long, ranges in width from 4 to 18 miles (6.4 to 29 km) and attains a depth of more than a mile (1.6 km). It is 6,000 feet deep at its deepest point and 15 miles at its widest.
Nature lovers, hikers and water rafters throng to this place all the year around. The sunrise and sunset at this place is breathtaking and as the shadows lengthen across the ravines, its vast spaces provoke a sense of timelessness.
One of the most visited site for its geological significance, the Grand Canyon has a rich and diverse fossil record, a vast array of geologic features and rock types, and numerous caves containing extensive and significant geological, paleontological, archaeological and biological resources.
There are different vintage points to get the best views of the Grand Canyon, the most popular being the South Rim or the North Rim. The South Rim includes Grand Canyon Village, Hermits Rest, and Desert View and is the most accessible part of the park. Canyon Grand Canyon Village is the centre of activity and the transportation hub for the South Rim of the park. The village is the only place where the railroad reaches the rim of the canyon.
The South Rim of the Grand Canyon has around 50 named points, where the rim projects outwards allowing for unobstructed views both up and down the gorge – from Rock Point on Navajo land in the east to Yumtheska Point in the west, near Havasu Canyon.
The North Rim, lies just 10 miles / 16 km directly across the Canyon from the South Rim. The North Rim rises a thousand feet higher than the South Rim, and is much less accessible.
On our drive to Grand Canyon, hitting 195 routes cruising along the deserts, viewing deserted flora, we felt as though we are driving in Egypt. The ride was very varied as we experienced in the border of Arizona and Nevada. Not many animals were observed. But the ride was a very adventurous one. We were also able to stop on our way to glance at the Hoover dam.
Hoover Dam, also known as Boulder Dam, is a concrete arch-gravity dam in the Black Canyon of the Colorado River, on the border between the states of Arizona and Nevada. It is currently the world’s 35th largest hydroelectric generating station. The 10 acre Powerhouse floor space houses 17 generators that produce more than four billion kilowatt hours of electricity each year. This is equivalent to the yearly electricity consumption for Southern California, Nevada and Arizona. There are tours of electric generation and the observation deck to view the dam.
Heading for about 4 hours we finally reached Grand Canyon National Park. Collecting our tickets for the last helicopter ride in the evening we entered the Park. As I mentioned earlier, there are many points to view, and we were able to take the Kaibab trial, Hermits rest route and the Desert View in the South Rim.
The Kaibab trial is a 60 minute drive which includes Yavapai observation Station, Mather Campground, Shrine of Ages and many other points to view. The Grandview Point along the East Rim Drive has the best views of the canyon.
The views at Desert View included the Pipe Creek Vista path, Yaki Point and South Kaibab trail head. The drive included many miles of the canyon and a tremendous number of peaks. Several miles of the river can be seen, around the Tanner Creek rapids, which can be reached by the Tanner Trail starting from Lipan Point. The best time for photography at Desert View is during the early hours of the day, when the sun first illuminates the cliffs opposite, on the north rim below Cape Royal. It is also a good place for a panoramic view or to watch a sunset.
Unfortunately due to road work, we weren’t allowed to enter the Hermits Route.
After seeing the majestic and spectacular view, one is left with no doubt as to why it is known as one of "Wonders of the World". Enjoying views at different dimensions we headed for our exciting 30 minute helicopter ride. The pilots welcomed us and gave us a wonderful ride with facts pertaining to the surroundings of Grand Canyon. We enjoyed every moment of it, though looking right below was scary, but fun.
On the way back near the Hoover dam, we were able to see spectacular fireworks marking the Independence Day of United States. We had to bid farewell to this lovely park to move on to our next destination Las Vegas, which is my next travelogue.
Facts courtesy: nps.gov
Author: Rosanne DSouza- USA