Arizona is home to the jaw-dropping Grand Canyon, crazy desert wildlife, and very hot summers.
#1 The Grand Canyon reveals 40% of Earths history.
The Grand Canyon contains the metamorphic rock Vishnu schist, and layers of sedimentary rock that date back to 1.75 billion years old — that’s nearly half the age of the Earth (4.5 billion years old)! That means there are tons of fossils and tracks to help us learn about ancient species.
#2 There are pink snakes!
There are six different types of rattlesnakes that call the Grand Canyon home (yikes!) but one of them sticks out a little more than the others. Or doesn’t stick out, actually, because the pink hue of the snake works as camouflage among the sunlit rocks. It must work well, because it took us a while to find the snake in this photo.
#3 The Grand Canyon encompasses several ecosystems.
As you descend into the Grand Canyon, your surroundings can change rapidly. There are around 70 mammal species, 47 reptile species, 250 species of birds, and over 1,750 plant species. Temperatures have been recorded from -10° to 110° Fahrenheit in various locations of the canyon. Now that’s variety!
#4 The Grand Canyon is the reason we have the FFA.
Back in the 1950’s, the awe-inspiring view of the canyon was so tempting that there were numerous plane collisions resulting from pilots who decided to take a scenic detour away from their flight path. These tragedies necessitated the in-air regulations we have today, and they’re the reason that, these days, you can safely fly over the Grand Canyon for a unique view.
#5 The Pueblo Indians were the first to call the Grand Canyon home.
More than 3,000 years ago, the Grand Canyon worked well as as a place to provide shelter and store food. Not only this, but the Grand Canyon was believed to be a holy land. We continue to learn more about the Pueblo Indians today, as we find tools and structures that they left behind.
#6 The air at the Grand Canyon is some of the cleanest in the U.S.
As a National Park, the Grand Canyon is well protected. Barring the occasional dust storm or forest fire, chances are good that you’ll be breathing easy. It’s no wonder that over 5 million people a year come to experience this beautiful feat of nature.
#7 It’s still growing!
Scientists generally agree that the Grand Canyon is a result of continual erosion by wind, rain, and the powerful Colorado river. The Colorado river still flows today, of course, which means that the Grand Canyon is constantly getting bigger and changing shape. It’s a slow process, but it’s happening nonetheless!
#8 People still live in the Grand Canyon, even today!
While you might think that the Grand Canyon is a beautiful place to visit, many people call this beautiful place home. Records show that some 2,000 people live in the Grand Canyon all year round. The majority of the inhabitants are members of the Havasupai Tribe, but we can’t forget those who keep Phantom Ranch (the only place to stay at the bottom of the canyon) up and running.
#9 Sometimes we start fires in the Grand Canyon on purpose!
This may seem like a destructive act against nature, but its goal is actually to prevent a tragedy. Firefighters strategically start small fires, called prescribed burns, that help refresh forest ecosystems and ensure that larger canopy fires don’t occur, resulting in widespread, tragic losses.
#10 The Grand Canyon is considered to be one of the 7 Wonders of the World.
On average, the canyon is 277 miles long, 18 miles wide, and 1 mile deep. Not to mention there are over 20 layers of rock jam-packed full of geological history, and numerous ecosystems brimming with unique life forms. (Did we mention there’s a horned lizard that shoots blood out of its eyes? We’ll let you google that one yourself.) If you ever have the chance to see this jaw-dropping masterpiece, you can definitely count yourself lucky!