Grand Canyon

The Grand Canyon is one of the Seven Wonders of the World and is found in Arizona.  The Grand Canyon has the Colorado River that runs through it and this is actually how the Grand Canyon was formed, by the Colorado River!

Ancestral Puebloan granaries at Nankoweap Creek

How Was the Grand Canyon Formed?

The Grand Canyon was formed because of water erosion from the Colorado River.  The river has run through the canyon for over 2 billion years which carved into the rocks of the canyon.

As the years passed by, the canyon became deeper and deeper.  The Grand Canyon is over thousands of years old.

Grand Canyon view from Pima Point

Erosion of the Grand Canyon

The Grand Canyon happened because of water erosion.  There are over 40 different layers of sedimentary rock layers that are found in the Grand Canyon.

The rocks found here are 200 million to 2 billion years old.

There are different kinds of sediments that are found here such as sand dunes and schist rocks and even limestone.  Some of the formations of the Grand Canyon happened from shallow seas that were warm and swamps that formed on the land many years ago.

Image of the Grand Canyon and surrounding area taken from the International Space Station


Some people believe that glaciers helped to form the Grand Canyon and that volcanoes might have played a part in it as well.  There are volcanic rocks that are found in some parts of the canyon and these are the youngest layers of the canyon.

How Big is the Grand Canyon?

The Grand Canyon is over 277 miles long and over 1 mile deep.  It goes up to 18 miles wide in some areas, but it is always growing because of the flow of the Colorado River.

Who Were the First People of the Grand Canyon?

The first people that lived at the Grand Canyon were the Pueblo Indians.  They lived at the canyon over 3,000 years ago.  The Pueblo Indians lived in different caves so that they would be able to survive and have shelter.

The caves were different rooms that were carved out of the rock of the canyon.

The Pueblo Indians made the Grand Canyon their sacred area and many of the Pueblo Indians travelled to the Grand Canyon to show their appreciation.

Exploring the Grand Canyon

The first person to explore the Grand Canyon was John Wesley Powell.  He explored the Grand Canyon in 1869 and gave the canyon the name “Grand Canyon.”

Geological Research

Because of all of the different types of rocks, the Grand Canyon is a very important site for people to do geological research.

Some of the rocks that are found are limestone and schist which is over millions and billions of years old.

Most of the rock on the bottom of the canyon is schist and the rock at the top of the canyon is limestone.

Grand Canyon National Park

In 1919, the Grand Canyon became a National Park.  It is the 17th National Park that the United States has declared a park.

Even though the Grand Canyon is not the longest or deepest canyon, it is enjoyed by millions and millions of people and is exciting to all who see it.

What to Do at the Grand Canyon

People go to the Grand Canyon from all over the world.  More than 5 million people come during a year to look at the canyon.  Some people like to do other things at the canyon such as:

  • Hiking
  • Riding Horses
  • Camping
  • Rafting

When exploring the Grand Canyon, it can be very dangerous.  Over 600 people have died at the Grand Canyon in the past 150 years.  Some people get dehydrated and can fall because the canyon has very dangerous parts.

Mysteries of the Grand Canyon

Some people think that the Grand Canyon is a mystery because of how it is carved.  Some believe that it was carved around 5 million years ago, but no one is really sure.

Another thing that people are not sure about is how the canyon was carved.  Some think that it was carved all at once while others believe it was carved very slowly.

Some fossils have been found in the Grand Canyon including fossils of sloth that are over 11,000 years old.  There have been other marine fossils and animal tracks that have been found as well.

Flying Over the Grand Canyon

The Federal Aviation Administration of the FAA was formed because of people flying over the Grand Canyon.

In the 1950’s pilots were taking people over the Grand Canyon to give them a view from the plane of the beautiful canyon.  But, on June 30, 1956, two planes that had flown from Los Angeles and Chicago flew over the Grand Canyon and they crashed and all the people on the plane were killed.

Now, the FAA does not allow people to fly over the Grand Canyon.

Paiute Indian Tribe

One tribe of the Grand Canyon was called the Paiute Indian Tribe.  They named the Grand Canyon “Kaibab” which means “mountain lying down” or “mountain turned upside down.”

On top of the Grand Canyon is also a white limestone which is called Kaibab, and this is where people stand on when they visit the Grand Canyon.  This rock is over 200 million years old.

Weather of the Grand Canyon

The weather of the Grand Canyon is very hot in the summer and very cold in the winter.  It can get up to 100 degrees Fahrenheit in the summer and in the winter, it can get down to 0 degrees Fahrenheit.

Neat Thing About the Grand Canyon

Besides the canyon just being beautiful, the Grand Canyon is part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site and is a National Park.  It is also one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World.

This means that the Grand Canyon is protected.

Animals of the Grand Canyon

There are many different animal species that are found at the Grand Canyon.  Some of them include:

  • 447 bird species
  • 91 mammal species
  • 48 reptile species
  • 10 amphibian species
  • Many insects and spiders

Some of the mammal species include:

  • Bats
  • Little Brown Bat
  • Bighorn Sheep
  • Bison
  • Elk
  • Mule Deer
  • Hog-nosed Skunk
  • Mountain Lion
  • Ringtail
  • Foxes
  • Coyotes
  • Bobcats
  • Javelina
  • Gray Fox

Some bird species include:

  • Bald Eagle
  • Peregrine Falcons
  • Condors
  • Owls
  • Hawks
  • Horned Owls
  • Squirrel Owls
  • Pygmy
  • Tiny Elf
  • Burrowing Owls

Some reptile species include:

  • Desert Spiny Lizard
  • Gila Monsters
  • Chuckwallas
  • Geckos
  • Horned Lizard
  • Desert Tortoise
  • Rattlesnakes
  • Hopi Rattlesnakes

Facts About the Grand Canyon:

  • The narrowest part of the Grand Canyon is called the Marble Canyon.
  • It takes five hours to cross the Grand Canyon.
  • The widest canyon in the world is found in Australia and it is the Capertee Valley.
  • The Grand Canyon has a lot of red rock.
  • One rattlesnake of the Grand Canyon is pink.
  • Dinosaur bones have never been discovered in the Grand Canyon.
  • Some fossils found in the Grand Canyon are over 1 billion years old.
  • There are only eight different species of fish that are found in the Colorado River.
  • Six of the eight fish species are only found in the Colorado River.
  • At the bottom of the Grand Canyon is the Supai Village.  This is a Havasupai Indian Reservation and has around 208 people that live there.
  • Mail is delivered to the Supai Village by pack mules.
  • The Grand Canyon is considered a geological mystery called the Great Unconformity.  This is called this because the rocks lie back to back and there are rocks that are millions of years old.

What Did You Learn?

  • What is the Grand Canyon?
    The Grand Canyon is a canyon that is found in the state of Arizona.  It is not the largest or widest canyon, but it is very beautiful and considered one of the Seven Wonders of the World.
  • How was the Grand Canyon formed?
    The Grand Canyon was formed when the Colorado River flowed through the area for millions of years.  Eventually the canyon was formed.  No one is exactly sure how this happened but there are a lot of people that guess different ways that it was formed.
  • Why is the Grand Canyon dangerous?
    The Grand Canyon is dangerous because people go there, and they try to hike and camp at the canyon.  Some people die when they do this, so it is important to have a guide.
  • What kind of erosion helped to form the Grand Canyon?  The erosion that helped form the Grand Canyon was water erosion because of the Colorado River flowing through it and breaking up rocks and other sediments.
  • Why do planes no longer fly over the Grand Canyon?
    Planes no longer fly over the Grand Canyon because of the FAA or the Federal Aviation Administration.  After many people died flying over the canyon, a law was formed to stop people from flying planes over it.