The Grand Canyon

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The Grand Canyon is a steep-sided canyon carved by the Colorado River in the United States in the state of Arizona. It is contained within and managed by Grand Canyon National Park, the Hualapai Tribal Nation, and the Havasupai Tribe. 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
The Grand Canyon

The Grand Canyon is 277 miles (446 km) long, up to 18 miles (29 km) wide and attains a depth of over a mile (6,000 feet or 1,800 meters). Nearly two billion years of Earth's geological history has been exposed as the Colorado River and its tributaries cut their channels through layer after layer of rock while the Colorado Plateau was uplifted.

The Grand Canyon
The Grand Canyon

While the specific geologic processes and timing that formed the Grand Canyon are the subject of debate by geologists, recent evidence suggests that the Colorado River established its course through the canyon at least 17 million years ago. Since that time, the Colorado River continued to erode and form the canyon to its present-day configuration.

The Grand Canyon
The Grand 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 a holy site and made pilgrimages to it. The first European known to have viewed the Grand Canyon was Garcia Lopez de Cardenas from Spain, who arrived in 1540.

The Grand Canyon
The Grand Canyon

The Grand Canyon is a big fissure in the Colorado Plateau that exposes uplifted Proterozoic and Paleozoic strata, and is also one of the 19 distinct physiographic sections of the Colorado Plateau province. It is not the deepest canyon in the world (Kali Gandaki Gorge in Nepal is far deeper), nor the widest (Capertee Valley in Australia is about 0.6 mi/1 km wider and longer than Grand Canyon); however, the Grand Canyon is known for its visually overwhelming size and its intricate and colorful landscape.

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