Take a peek at any one picture of the Grand Canyon and you’ll know exactly why it is Arizona’s most well-known attraction. But how much do you actually know about it? Today, we’re going to take a look at some fun facts that show the Grand Canyon has more to offer than just pretty sights.
1. The Grand Canyon isn't the deepest canyon in the world.
Sorry to start with a bummer of a fact. While still an impressive and accessible sight, the longest and deepest canyon is actually the Yarlung Tsangpo Grand Canyon in Tibet. That one measures 314 miles in length and its deepest parts reach down to 19,714 feet.
2. The oldest geologic exposures in the Grand Canyon are about 2 billion years old.
Known as the Vishnu Schist, these dark-colored rocks form the base of the canyon and can be found in the Inner Gorge.
3. The first Europeans to encounter the Grand Canyon never made it all the way down to the canyon floor.
First, if you have ever hiked down the canyon, imagine doing the same thing in clothing those men wore. I'm not sure if they always wore that metal armor, but if they did they were insane.
Led by a small group of Hopi, the conquistador García López de Cárdenas instructed some of his Spanish soldiers to trek down into the canyon in search of a massive river in 1540. They only made it about one-third of the way down before turning around for water.
4. The next set of Europeans to visit didn't happen again until the same year as the Revolutionary War, more than 200 years later.
A pair of Spanish Franciscan priests (Francisco Atanasio Domínguez and Silvestre Vélez de Escalante) encountered the Grand Canyon in 1776 as they traveled the area. Additionally, one priest, Fray Francisco Garces, visited that same year in an attempt to convert the Havasupai. He was unsuccessful.
5. By the way, people do live inside the canyon: the Havasupai, which roughly translates to the “People of the Blue-Green Waters.”
6. The oldest fossils found at the Grand Canyon? Stromatolites which are at least 740 million years old.
What are they? From what I was able to gather, scientists are a bit divided on how to properly define stromatolites, but they are basically the equivalent of fossilized algae.
7. Plenty of fossils exist in the Grand Canyon, but dinosaur bones have never been found here.
That's right. The canyon's rocks are too old for that. Try another Arizona park for dinosaur fossils, such as Petrified Forest.
8. The Grand Canyon is home to a very diverse habitat and that includes about a dozen plants that exist only within the park.
9. There have been approximately 770 deaths that have happened since the 1870s as a result of visiting the Grand Canyon.
10. Tread carefully (and only on designated areas) when you visit. Biological soil crusts located in the Grand Canyon contain delicate algae that are vital to soil health and can be difficult to spot.
What other fun facts do you know about the Grand Canyon? Don’t forget to share your thoughts with us on our
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