5 Things You Didn't Know About the Grand Canyon

On January 11, 1908, U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt declared the massive Grand Canyon in northwestern Arizona a national monument.  Here are 5 things you didn’t know about one of the world’s natural wonders...


The Grand Canyon Is so Large It Creates its Own Weather # Grand Canyon National Park covers more than one million acres and about 277 miles long if you are following the course of the Colorado River. Elevations in the Grand Canyon range from 2,000 feet at the Colorado River in the area of Phantom Ranch to more than 8,000 feet at the North Rim, so the weather can depend on what time of year it is and the location. Along the river, it almost never snows and can get to more than 110 degrees, while at the South Rim it usually doesn’t go higher than the 80s and there are four seasons. For trekkers, there can be more than a 25-degree Fahrenheit difference when making their way from the crest to the bottom of the canyon.

It Holds Lots of Fossils but No Dinosaur Bones # Today, the Grand Canyon is home to abundant wildlife such as bighorn sheep, elk, coyotes and mountain lions. While the rocks in the canyon walls are about one billion years older than the dinosaurs, the canyon itself is much younger than the dinosaurs. However, there are many fossils to be found, including marine fossils that date back more than a billion years. Fossils of land mammals, including sloths and pack rats, found there date back to around 10,000 years ago.


The Most Remote Town in the Country Lies at the Bottom of the Canyon There is a small town at the bottom of the Grand Canyon named Supai Village, which is a part of the Havasupai Indian Reservation, but visitors have to be physically fit and hike a total of about 10 miles to get there. The population is around 208 people. Mail is still delivered to local residents via pack mule to navigate the tricky slopes.

A Huge Hoax Involving the Grand Canyon Was Perpetrated in 1909 On April 5, 1919, the Arizona Gazette published a story about artifacts and strange caves in the Grand Canyon that were supposedly discovered by two archaeologists funded by the Smithsonian. The pair reportedly discovered, among other things, hieroglyphic-engraved tablets and an idol that resembled Buddha, along with mummies—lots of them. The Smithsonian was quick to put down the story as a hoax, saying that there were never any discoveries of Egyptian or Asian origin found in the country, and no one with the names of the supposed explorers ever worked for them.

It Was a Long Time Before the Grand Canyon Was Explored Prehistoric humans, back as far as 12,000 years ago and members of the ancient Pueblo people inhabited the canyon, but it wasn’t until the 1540s that Spanish explorers were taken there by Hopi guides. It was an additional 300 years before Joseph Christmas Ives went into the canyon to map the Colorado River in 1858. Ten years later, another explorer, John Wesley Powell, provided a more detailed map of the river after traveling down it.

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