Grand Canyon is one of the deepest canyons in the world. It is a place of an incredible power! In this publication we will tell you about the history of the canyon’s formation, about the things you need to know before visiting Grand Canyon, about the most interesting and most popular sights there, we will share our experience of visiting this wonderful location and will tell you about our adventure on our way back from Grand Canyon to Los Angeles. Keep reading our publication till the end.
In the childhood I watched documentaries on the channels like National Geographic and Discovery about the constructing of an amazing viewpoint Skywalk on the Grand Canyon, which reminds of a horseshoe by its shape. These documentaries told about how difficult it was to build this unusual observation deck and to serve it in the necessary way. I thought: “How impressive looks this horseshoe viewpoint! I wish I could visit it someday, walk on its glass bottom and observe those marvelous views to the Grand Canyon!” Although it seemed to be something unreal at that moment! But my husband and I were lucky to visit this place and to fulfil the childhood dream! This story tells that dreams come true, even the very incredible ones! Just never stop dreaming, even when you’re grown up!
So..Let’s come back to the Grand Canyon!
The Grand Canyon is located on the Colorado Plateau in Arizona state, USA, 200 km (130 miles) from Las Vegas. The canyon is carved by Colorado river along the marvelous gorges.
The canyon is 446 km (277 miles) long, maximum 29 km (18 miles) wide, 1857 m (6093 feet) deep.
How was one of the deepest canyons in the world formed?
Grand Canyon is one of the most unusual geological formations on our planet. It contains traces of 4 geological eras of the Earth. Various rocks and caves keep very rich biological, geological and archeological material. The canyon is considered to be one of the best examples of erosion (the destruction of the rocks by the surface water flows).
Originally, Colorado river flew by the flat land, but as a result of earth’s crust movement about 65 million years ago Colorado plateau was risen. Consequently the angle of Colorado river inclination was changed, which caused the increse of the river speed and its ability to wash away the rocks on its way. This is how Grand Canyon was formed. It happened about 5-6 million years ago. The canyon still becomes deeper, as the erosion process goes on.
The aborigines of America (Indians) knew about Grand Canyon thousands of years ago. Cave paintings, which were made by the Indians about 3 000 years ago, proved the first signs of life in the canyon. Indians lived in the caves, which were carved right into the canyon.
In the 16th century a Spanish group found out the Grand Canyon while searching the gold.
The first scientific expedition to the Grand Canyon was held in 1869. University professor John Wesley Powell researched and discribed the canyon during this expedition.
Once the former American President Theodore Roosevelt appreciated the beauty of the Grand Canyon. He liked to go hunting there and the canyon became popular very quickly.
Since 1979 the Grand Canyon has been included in the UNESCO World Heritage List.
Can you imagine, in 2013 the famous American wire walker Nikolas Wallenda crossed the Grand canyon along a tightrope without any safety cables.
Must-know before visit to Grand Canyon
There is a plenty of various excursions organized from Las Vegas to Grand Canyon: individual excursion by rented car with a guide, helicopter excursion or group excursion by bus.
Grand Canyon National Park consists of 2 main parts: South Rim and North Rim. There is also Western part of the canyon – West Grand Canyon, but actually it is not included to the national park. West Grand Canyon is the closest part of the canyon to Las Vegas (200 km/130 miles), located on the territory of the Hualapai, Havasupai and Navajo Indian Reservation.
By the way, the most famous horseshoe-shaped viewpoint of Grand Canyon – Skywalk is situated directly in the West Grand Canyon. That’s why we decided to visit exactly this part of the canyon.
West Grand Canyon
It is not possible to drive along the Grand Canyon by car on you own, like we used to think before our visit. Only by the guided bus-tour has to be taken.
There is a large car parking, helicopter spot and small airport – Grand Canyon West Airport at the entrance to the park.
The helicopter excursion can be taken directly here. This kind of excursion allows to fly over the canyon and see its beauty from a different perspective – from the height of an eagle flight.
Visitor centre where you can buy the tickets for the guided bus tour and of course some souvenirs.
The guided bus tour makes 3 stops:
- Skywalk viewpoint
- Guano Point – panormaic viewpoint to the canyon and Colorado river
- Rancho of the indigenous american indians – Hualapai.
Guided tourist buses run between these stops all day long. So it is possible to go to the next stop actually at any time or the contrary stay longer, for example, in order to have lunch in one of the local cafes with a gorgeous view to the canyon.
There are lots of viewpoints on the territory of the Grand Canyon Park, in its different parts. But the most famous and the most popular one is Skywalk viewpoint with a glass bottom. The Skywalk hangs over a 1,200 m (4,000 ft) canyon abyss and provides visitors with an incredible experience and breathtaking views. This viewpoint is also often called “Horseshoe” because of its shape. The Skywalk was opened in March 2007.
To visit this viewpoint, it is necessary to pass the security check and leave all of the private stuff like camera, mobile phones, etc in the special lockers. Probably, such measures were taken, in order to avoid the long lines and give the opportunity to the visitors to feel the present moment during the visit and enjoy amazing views to the canyon, instead of a rush while taking photos.
To pass the observation deck with a glass bottom at height around 1 200 m – is an incredible feeling! The abyss of a mighty canyon is under your feet and beautiful eagles fly high around you!
You are like flying over the canyon. This is a feeling of liberty and mightiness. I wish this feeling could stay forever in my mind. Visit to the Skywalk viewpoint was actually the reason of our trip the Grand Canyon – the kid’s dream came true!
There is a little exhibition at the exit from the observation deck, which describes the living of the local Indians.
Near the building of Skywalk viewpoint we saw anciant wigwams, where one day used to live local Indians.
Guano Point viewpoint
Guano Point is the second tourist stop of the West Grand Canyon park, which opens marvelous views to the canyon and Colorado river, flowing along. On the territory of the Grand Canyon, fences are installed almost everywhere, you cannot come close to the cliff, there are guards everywhere. They constantly make sure that visitors follow the rules.
But on Guano Point is a little bit different situation. There is a short trail without any fences, where you can walk along and feel the powerful beauty of the canyon, admire amazing views to the canyon and flowing like a snake Colorado river, which actually created this legendary masterpiece – the Grand Canyon.
There is a histroical place near the Guano Point observation trail – the remains of the ancient cable car station, which once ran across the canyon at 2 300 m (7 500 feet) height and helped the minors to get the mineral resources out of the caves.
“During the 1930s a boater passing through the Canyon discovered a cave which later was found to be rich with “Guano” – bat droppings. This material was rich with nitrogen and very useful as fertilizer. The U.S. Guano Corporation had purchased the mining rights in 1957 and began to construct the Tramway to extract the Guano from the mine. Utilizing cable that spanned the Canyon at 7500 feet and the use of cable cars for both the guano and miners it was mined until early 1960. A few months later the cable was damaged by an Air Force Jet’s tail and never re-opened. The cable head-house remains as well as some remnants at the cave and is now a tourist destination at Grand Canyon West.”
Rancho of the indigenous american indians Hualapai
Rancho of the indigenous american indians Hualapai is a very exciting village. It is a great place for a special photosession. Just don’t forget to put on the checked shirts and jeans to fit the thematic background 😉
Life Hacks & Useful Tips about the Grand Canyon
As we got into the Grand Canyon park closer to midday time, it was extremely hot there. It was end of April. Everywhere is the desert, no shadow. So be ready to walk in the park under the bright burning sun. We highly recommend you to cover your head with a cap, put on light long-sleaved clothes to avoid sunburn, very comfortable shoes as you will have to climb the rocky area, take some snacks and water with you.
Looking back to our experience, we recommend to spend at least one day in the Grand Canyon Park. But if you have more time and opportunity, it is better to stay for 2 days there (with 1 night at one of the hotels nearby).
For example, on the first day you could take this observation guided bus tour to the best viewpoints along the route.
Next day you could maybe take helicopter excursion around the canyon and ride the speedboat along the Colorado river. These are the best ways to explore the Grand Canyon.
We spent half-day in the Grand Canyon park: left Las Vegas in the morning, had a stop near the Hoover Dam, at the midday were in the Grand Canyon park and returned back to Los Angeles in the evening. Frankly speaking, the road from the Grand Canyon back to Los Angeles was rather long and it was a kind of a crazy decision, sometimes even a challenge for us, as there were some mountaneous parts of the road with a reduced visibility. Considering that road incident, which happened to us on our way back to Los Angeles, we got into the reserved hotel in the suburbs of Los Angeles only at 4 a.m.
What road incident happened to us on our way back to Los Angeles?
It was coming to the night. We were already close to Los Angeles. It was hard not to notice the blinding lights of the night city. Just several miles left to our hotel. But suddenly we heard some strange noise out of our rental car. As we moved along the highway and there was no place to stop and check the car, we kept on driving a little bit slower on the far right lane of the highway. In hope to get to the hotel and check the car there. Out of nowhere appeared the police car with the loud siren. We got slightly worried about that. It turned out, there is a speed minimum limit even on that far right lane – you must drive at least 75 miles per hour. Otherwise, you need to leave the highway and drive along the alternative road, which is usually paralel to the highway. The police wanted to warn us about that. After we had left the highway and moved to the alternative road, another policeman stopped to check if everything is fine with us, helped us to find the reason of that strange noise from the car (it was a screw, stucked in the car tire). We tried somehow little by little to come to our hotel by this car but the tire was absolutely damaged on our way later and we couldn’t move further. We called the insurance company by the telephone number in our rental car insurance policy. Fortunetely, this case was included in the insured accidents. We had 2 options: to wait for several hours till someone from insurance company would evacuate our car or to change on our own the damaged tire into the spare tire, which was in the car under the baggage hold. It was late night, we dreamt about coming to our hotel as soon as possible, we didn’t have any desire to wait for another several hours at night, so we decided to act on our own – change the tire. The next day in the morning we went to the closest representative office of our rental company and changed the car into another one.
We hadn’t had any experience in contacting with insurance companies abroad till that case. Of course, it was annoying situation for us, but it was a kind of an experience for us, although not a pleasant one. The most important in this case – is not to rush and act by the instructions.
The next day – after the change of the car, we headed to the beach musical festival Back to the Beach, which was actually a reason of our trip to the West Coast. We told you about it in our previous part about Los Angeles.
This is our trip to the West Coast of America. We were dramatically impressed by the places we saw during this trip. This journey had boardened our horizons. We were impressed by the multiculturality of America, the kind, lovely local people, we met on our way. We wish we could come here again and again to open new interesting, beautiful places and experience fantastic events.
We hope to explore the northwest of America in the nearest future. San Francisco, Silicon Valley, picturesque road of Big Sur Bay, National parks of Sequoia and Yosemite – are the top places in our travel wish list.
Follow our next stories about the most beautiful and interesting places of our planet and our adventures here – on our blog and Youtube Channel.
Author (c): Iryna Melnyk
Photos (c): Nick Melnyk