15 Fun Facts That You Need to Know About the Grand Canyon

Written By: The Planet D

The Grand Canyon in Arizona is one of the most beautiful places you can visit in the state. It’s the best place that you can escape to if you want to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city. Its natural beauty and jaw-dropping sights are just a couple of reasons you need to see the national park. Below are some interesting facts about the Grand Canyon that will make you want to visit it even more.

Facts About the Grand Canyon

The Grand Canyon is Enormous

North rim of the Grand Canyon

Do you know that the Grand Canyon is about 4931 square km (1,904 square miles) or 1,218,375 acres? In fact, it can fit the entire state of Rhode Island which is only 3144 square km (1,214 square miles) or 776,960 acres. Considering its size, there’s plenty to explore at the Grand Canyon! And because it’s very expansive, you get to experience a completely different weather pattern in other areas of the park. The North Rim could be 12 degrees Celcius (54°F) while the South Rim could be as high as 18 degrees Celcius (64°F). 

But The Grand Canyon is Not the Biggest Canyon in the World

Even though the Grand Canyon is huge, it is not the deepest canyon in the world. The Grand Canyon is 1857 meters (6,093 feet) deep and 18 miles (29 km) across at its widest point. While that is really impressive, the title of the largest canyon in the world belongs to the Yarlung Tsangpo Grand Canyon in Tibet. That same canyon is actually longer than the Grand Canyon as well.

Grand Canyon National Park Has Pink Snakes

facts about the grand canyon pink snake

There are six species of rattlesnakes spotted at the Grand Canyon park boundaries, and one of them is unusually pink. If you’re a hiker and have been to the Grand Canyon, you might have seen one of these snakes. They are the most common snakes in the park and are usually found on sandy trails and rocks, looking for some lizards to eat. They may be common in the Grand Canyon, but in fact, this species of rattlesnake is found nowhere else on earth.

5.9 Million People Visit the Grand Canyon Every Year

North rim of the Grand Canyon

An estimated 5.9 million people worldwide visit the Grand Canyon every year, making it the second most visited national park in the US. The most visited park is the Great Smoky Mountains National Park of North Carolina and Tennessee, with about 12.5 million visitors every year. 

The Grand Canyon is Filled With Wildlife

About 373 species of birds, 18 species of fish, 58 species of reptiles, and 91 species of mammals make the Grand Canyon their home. In total, there are more than 8000 known species found at the Grand Canyon. Seven of these species are endangered. Endangered species that inhabit the Grand Canyon are, the Ridgway’s rail, the California condor, the southwestern willow flycatcher, the razorback sucker, the humpback chub, and the Kanab amber snail are endangered.

In addition, about 1,747 species of plants and 208 species of exotic non-native plants are found at the Grand Canyon. 

Teddy Roosevelt Contributed to Protect the Grand Canyon

Facts about the Grand Canyon

Roosevelt’s visit to the Grand Canyon in 1903 was enough to convince him to protect it. However, at that time, it was simply beyond his authority to protect it by designating the area as a national park. It was only in 1906 by using a presidential proclamation that he established the Grand Canyon Game Preserve. The park was then declared a national monument two years later in 1908. The final approval came in 1919 when the Grand Canyon was declared a national park. 

The Village of Supai is the Only Village at the Grand Canyon

Home to the Havasupai Tribe or The People of the Blue-Green Water, the Supai Village is only accessible by helicopter, foot, or pack animal. It’s only inhabited by about 208 people, according to the U.S. Census. And because it’s the most remote town in the lower 48 states, it’s the only place in the entire USA that receives deliveries by mule. Waterfalls and red canyon walls surround Supai Village. Visitors can stay either at the Havasupai Lodge or when they obtain a camping permit. If you’re thinking about visiting the village, ensure that you check the weather forecast as flash floods are common. In fact, about 143 tourists evacuated when a strong storm hit the town in 2010. Currently the Havasupai village has suspended tourism. Check their website for updates.

An Early Instant Photo Business Once Boomed at the Grand Canyon

In 1906, brothers Ellsworth and Emery Kolb decided to set up a studio when they realized that a photography business might be a good opportunity. They would take photos of tourists as they depart to explore the Grand Canyon’s bottom on mules and then sell them developed prints when they make their way back up to the South Rim of the Grand Canyon, where the studio was located. 

The Grand Hoax in 1909 Happened at the Grand Canyon

Tombs of the Nobles Egypt

The Arizona Gazette reported detailed findings of the two archaeologists who declared to have discovered traces of either an ancient Egyptian civilization or Tibetan in the underground tunnel within the Grand Canyon. This happened on April 5, 1909. However, the Smithsonian denied it, and they have failed to uncover the tunnel that the two scientists declared to have found. Some conspiracy theorists still believe that the Smithsonian covered it up, though. What do you think?

The Grand Canyon is the Gateway to the Afterlife?

The Hopi Tribe believed that the Grand Canyon carried a spiritual significance. They believed that when they die, a Hopi passes through a “place of emergence” or a sipapuni, which is a dome of mineral deposits found on the banks of the little Colorado river inside the canyon, on their journey into the afterlife. 

No One Can Clearly Figure Out How Old the Grand Canyon Is

Where to stay in the Grand Canyon

Geologists have debated the age of the Grand Canyon for years. Some say it’s about 6 million years old, while others think it’s even older. It was difficult to determine its age because there is no rock record due to erosion. There’s no physical carving because erosion takes away material. Geologists are only left with a landscape instead. In 2021 though, a new research team made a claim that the canyon was cut about 70 million years ago. 

The Grand Canyon Has a lot of Caves

The Grand Canyon is home to about 1000 caves, but only 335 have been explored and recorded. Likewise, only a few of the caves at the Grand Canyon have been mapped. Even though there are so many caves, only one is open to the public the Cave of the Domes. Other caves can be visited with a permit. however, it’s currently closed and only allowed for research purposes. Inside the caves, you’ll see some mummified remains of Ice Age fauna and some archaeological remains. 

Humans Have Inhabited the Grand Canyon for a long Time

The Oldest Human artifacts found in the Grand Canyon date back 13,000 years. During the excavations, they also found some animal figurines, jewelry, and pots from the Paleo-Indian period. Native Americans have inhabited the Grand Canyon for thousands of years and continue to do so.

The first Europeans settled in the Grand Canyon in 1540 when García López de Cárdenas, a Spanish conquistador, led an expedition in the canyon’s grounds. He sent three soldiers to carefully explore the canyon’s depths. However, it was only a short trek as the soldiers were no longer capable of exploring further. The soldiers were overcome by thirst, and there was no place they go to for clean water. It was possible because the Hopi guarded the Colorado River; it was not within the soldiers’ reach. 

European Descent Explorers Navigated to the Bottom of the Grand Canyon in 1869

Whitewater Rafting the Colorado River near Grand Canyon

It was only in 1869 where Europeans decided to explore the bottom of the Grand Canyon. John Wesley Powell, along with nine men, including his brother decided to go on a thousand-mile mission on the Colorado River and then through the Grand Canyon. Unfortunately, out of those men, only six of them completed the expedition. However, in 1871, Powell returned and this time with 11 men, including a scientist. After the long trip, they were able to produce the first maps of the Colorado River. 

Natural Fires are Actually Good for the Grand Canyon

You’d think that natural fires may harm the national park, but researchers have found that they are actually good for maintaining the ecosystem. Several years ago, people tried to put out natural fires at the Grand Canyon. As a result, it only damaged the park and led to an unnatural buildup of shrubs, grasses, and trees. Today, natural fires at the park are only controlled.

When Are You Planning to Visit the Grand Canyon?

The fun facts about the Grand Canyon should convince you to visit at the soonest possible time. Should you decide to visit, make sure that you are prepared for the trip. Don’t forget to check our travel tips when you plan to go to Arizona or check our Itineraries for more help.

Rattlesnake photo by: Fishopotamus, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons (we have not encountered a rattlesnake in person)

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About The Planet D

Dave Bouskill and Debra Corbeil are the owners and founders of The Planet D. After traveling to 115 countries, on all 7 continents over the past 13 years they have become one of the foremost experts in travel. Being recognized as top travel bloggers and influencers by the likes of Forbes Magazine, the Society of American Travel Writers and USA Today has allowed them to become leaders in their field.

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