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It is 277 miles long, up to 18 miles wide, and up to — and in some places over — a mile deep. Wikimedia Commons
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The Grand Canyon is actually not the deepest canyon in the world — or even in the U.S. The world's deepest is either the Yarlung Tsangpo Grand Canyon in Tibet, China, or the Kali Gandaki Gorge in Nepal, depending on who you ask. Domestically, Oregon and Idaho's Hells Canyon is a half a mile deeper than the Grand Canyon. Grand Canyon National Park/Flickr
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The Grand Canyon contains metamorphic rock that is 1.75 billion years old — older than the dinosaurs. However, no dinosaur bones have been found there as the canyon formed after the dinosaurs became extinct.Wikimedia Commons
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It is bigger than the entire state of Rhode Island. The state is approximately 1,212 square miles, while the canyon measures 1,904 square miles. Pexels
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The Federal Aviation Administration exists because of the Grand Canyon. In 1956, two planes collided over the canyon killing everyone on board and the FAA was created in response two years later in 1958. Grand Canyon National Park / Flickr
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There are likely over 1,000 caves within the Grand Canyon, but we've only recorded 335. Of those, only one cave is open to the public: the Cave of the Domes on Horseshoe Mesa. Alan English/Flickr
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Two enterprising photographer brothers had a darkroom inside the canyon in the early 1900s. Emery and Ellsworth Kolb took photos of hikers by their canyon-side studio at the beginning of each party's trip, hustled halfway down the canyon to their makeshift darkroom; developing the photos for the hikers before their ascent back up. Internet Archive Book Images
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Only eight species of fish are native to the Grand Canyon. Before modern flood control measures, the Colorado River had heavy silt, frequent flooding, and extreme temperatures — not a fish-friendly habitat. Grand Canyon National Park/Flickr
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You can walk out 70 feet over the edge for an aerial view — if you dare. A glass-bottomed, horseshoe-shaped skywalk is one of the most popular attractions on the far western end of the canyon. It's suspended 4,000 feet above the bottom of the canyon. Veselina Dzhingarova/Flickr
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Spanish conquistador García López de Cárdenas sent three soldiers to explore the bottom in the year 1540. The trek didn’t last very long, as the first European visitors were overcome by extreme thirst. Wikimedia Commons
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Water and wind alone created the Grand Canyon. Beginning about six million years ago, the Colorado river and other eroding forces started to cut a crevice that would eventually become the staggeringly large canyon. Grand Canyon National Park/Flickr
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It was named the Grand Canyon by a one-armed war veteran. John Wesley Powell, (far left, circa late 1800s) charted the Colorado River in a wooden boat in 1869 and was the first to consistently use the name. He also named many other sites within the canyon.Wikimedia Commons
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The Kolb brothers used their spliced-together footage to create the first motion picture showing the Grand Canyon. Their photography studio is used by the Grand Canyon Association as a gallery and gift shop. Grand Canyon National Park/Flickr
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It is missing 950 million years worth of rock layers, and no one knows why. Rock strata from 250 million years ago lies right on top of 1.2 billion-year-old rock strata in a geological phenomenon known as the Great Unconformity. Grand Canyon National Park/Flickr
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The Grand Canyon National Park has a preservation policy that mandates leaving archaeological artifacts undisturbed. The human artifacts that were found were literally being washed down the Colorado River. Wikimedia Commons
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No one knows for sure how old it is. The canyon may have formed in pieces over time, with parts of it dating back as many as 70 million years, and other parts emerging in the last 6 million years. Grand Canyon National Park/Flickr
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There are people in charge of setting the canyon on fire. Controlled fires are set by fire managers, and are good for the landscape, thinning the canyon's forests, recycling nutrients, and stimulating new plant growth. National Park Service
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If you take even a single pebble as a souvenir, you're violating National Park Service rules. Rocks, plants, wood, and other artifacts must stay at Grand Canyon Park — but there is a gift shop. Grand Canyon National Park/Flickr
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It contains a lot of pink rattlesnakes. The Grand Canyon pink rattlesnake is one of the most common snakes found in the park and is found nowhere else in the world but in the geological wonder.Douglas Mills/Flickr
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The Grand Canyon is home to 35 species that are considered to be threatened or endangered. Wikimedia Commons
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One of the most dangerous things about the Grand Canyon are the squirrels. The rock squirrels that inhabit the area bite dozens of visitors each year. Grand Canyon National Park/Flickr
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There is an actual town located inside the canyon at the base. Supai Village has a population of 208 people, is inaccessible by road, and is the most remote community in the lower 48 states. U.S. National Archives
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It was love at first sight for Theodore Roosevelt, who employed a political loophole to protect it. He could not designate it as a national park without congressional approval, so he added considerably more protection to a nearby forest preserve in 1906 by designating the area as the Grand Canyon Game Preserve. Wikimedia Commons
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The oldest human artifacts found within the park are nearly 12,000 years old. They date back to the Paleo-Indian period, and include stone tools, pottery, jewelry, and seeds. Wikimedia Commons
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It is still changing. Erosion continues to alter the contours of the giant chasm; who knows what it will look like in another six million years. Pexels
25 Grand Canyon Facts That Reveal America’s 6 Million-Year-Old Natural Wonder
This majestic natural wonder of the world puts almost everyone in awe as soon as they see it. Yet most of us know shockingly little about it, like how the Grand Canyon was formed or just how big it is. These Grand Canyon facts will take the geographical divide from a simple tourist attraction to a wondrous feat; time and nature collaborating on one of their best achievements.
How The Grand Canyon Was Formed
Roughly 1.7 billion years ago, volcanoes crashed into the future continent of North America. This created mountains that eroded down to form the rock resting at the base of the Grand Canyon. Countless millions of years passed as a shallow sea washed over the area. The residual sediment became the layers comprised of sandstone, shale, and limestone. Plate tectonics crashed the rock layers together; rising up to become the Colorado Plateau. Flowing water then carved its way through billions of years worth of rock.
By some accounts, the Grand Canyon is around 70 million years old. By yet others, the canyon formed some six million years old. Though American Indians have been living in and around the park for thousands of years (and still do), the first Europeans to reach the canyon hailed from Spain in a 1540 expedition led by García López de Cárdena. Tourists have flooded the area since the 19th century.
"Leave it as it is," implored Teddy Roosevelt during a 1903 visit to the canyon. "You cannot improve on it. The ages have been at work on it, and man can only mar it."
However, as sure as the sun rises every morning over the canyon, there are people looking to turn it into profit. As National Geographic's Kevin Fedarko writes, "The canyon provokes two major reactions: the urge to protect it, and the temptation to make a pile of money from it".
Indeed, from giant tourist resorts and noisy helicopter tours to hydroelectric dams and uranium mines — mankind seems hell-bent on further destroying the canyon's splendor in favor of the Almighty dollar. A New-Earth Creationist even brought a lawsuit against it; claiming it was guilty of religious discrimination.
Luckily, there are those still willing to protect the landmark. Conservation efforts are alive, well, and heartily rebuking any activities that would desecrate its beauty.
Protecting The Grand Canyon
As spectacular as the view is on any given day, the Grand Canyon looks even more serene with a fresh coating of snow; something that happens pretty rarely.
Even rarer is the event of a government shutdown, but don't fear (at least about the canyon) because in 2018 a state-funded backup plan was enacted. Arizona residents become responsible for park upkeep in lieu of federal funds.
"Regardless of what happens in Washington, the Grand Canyon will not close on our watch" Arizona Governor Doug Ducey assured.
In a perfect world, these Grand Canyon facts will entice more people to see the valor in preserving nature's glorious monument instead of exploiting it.
An All That’s Interesting writer since 2013, Erin Kelly focuses on historic places, natural wonders, environmental issues, and the world of science. Her work has also been featured in Smithsonian and she’s designed several published book covers in her career as a graphic artist.