Southwest Expedition Series Part 10: Grand Canyon National Park

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• Southwest Expedition Series Index




The Grand Canyon (Hopi: Ongtupqa; Yavapai: Wi:kaʼi:la, Spanish: Gran Cañón) is a steep-sided canyon carved by the Colorado River in the state of Arizona in the United States. It is contained within and managed by Grand Canyon National Park, the Kaibab National Forest, Grand Canyon-Parashant National Monument, the Hualapai Tribal Nation, the Havasupai people and the Navajo Nation. President Theodore Roosevelt was a major proponent of preservation of the Grand Canyon area, and visited it on numerous occasions to hunt and enjoy the scenery.

The Grand Canyon is 277 miles (446 km) long, up to 18 miles (29 km) wide and attains a depth of over a mile (6,093 feet or 1,857 meters).[1] Nearly two billion years of Earth's geological history have been exposed as the Colorado River and its tributaries cut their channels through layer after layer of rock while the Colorado Plateau was uplifted. While some aspects about the history of incision of the canyon are debated by geologists, several recent studies support the hypothesis that the Colorado River established its course through the area about 5 or 6 million years ago. Since that time, the Colorado River has driven the down-cutting of the tributaries and retreat of the cliffs, simultaneously deepening and widening the canyon.

For thousands of years, the area has been continuously inhabited by Native Americans, who built settlements within the canyon and its many caves. The Pueblo people considered the Grand Canyon ("Ongtupqa" in the Hopi language) a holy site, and made pilgrimages to it. The first European known to have viewed the Grand Canyon was García López de Cárdenas from Spain, who arrived in 1540.


• Rim Trail: The Rim Trail starts near Kolb Studio in the village area and continues for nearly 12 miles to its final stop at Hermits Rest. But don’t let the distance dissuade you from thinking about this particular hike. The beauty of this hike is that it follows the rim along some of the most spectacular viewpoints to be had anywhere in the Canyon—AND there are shuttle stops at various points along the route. So this means that you can hike between viewpoints and simply catch the shuttle at any of the stops you wish. The longest stretch between stops is almost three miles, but the majority of shuttle stops are spaced around one-half to one mile long. You can view the precise mileage between shuttle stops on the NPS page for the Rim Trail.

Difficulty: Moderate
Distances: 12 Miles
Duration: 7 Hours

Reference & Map:

• Bright Angel Trail: The Bright Angel Trail offers many good destinations and is easily accessible from the Village area. The trailhead is located next to Kolb Studio and starts out relatively gradual. For those who just want to get a feel of the Inner Canyon will do well to hike to Cinch Up.

Difficulty: Moderate
Distances: 7 Miles
Duration: 5 Hours

Reference & Map:

• South Kaibab Trail: The South Kaibab Trail begins south of Yaki Point on Yaki Point Road. Access to the trailhead is by shuttle bus. Offers day hikes that range in distance up to 12 miles (round trip). Best views for a relatively short hike. Steep trail, no water, little shade. Water available at trailhead.

Difficulty: Easy
Distances: 20 Miles
Duration: 12 Hours

Reference & Map:

• Havasu Falls: Havasupai Falls Arizona is a major destination for hikers who want to visit the blue green waterfalls. Hidden in the Grand Canyon, and difficult to get reservations for, this paradise is for those who can plan ahead and enjoy hikes of 8 miles or more. The Havasupai people live near the Havasupai Falls in the Supai Village.

Difficulty: Strenuous
Distances: 12 Miles
Duration: 8 Hours

Reference & Map:,-112.7376253,13z/data=!4m14!4m13!1m5!1m1!1s0x0:0x2821e9309053a50d!2m2!1d-112.697941!2d36.2553048!1m5!1m1!1s0x0:0x9a3078008c8bb24a!2m2!1d-112.7093008!2d36.1597801!3e2

• 4x 1 Lite of bottle water
• Lunch
• Snacks & Fruits
• Sun Screen
• Bug Repellent

• Hat
• Sun Glasses
• Lightweight clothing
• Hiking Boots or Shoes
• Lightweight Back Pack
• Lightweight workout pants

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