How Was The Grand Canyon Formed

One of the first questions people have about the Grand Canyon is how was it formed? The story is one that spans millions of years. Some of the rock of the Grand Canyon is even older. At the bottom of the Grand Canyon, there is rock that dates back to the Precambrian era. Approximately three hundred million years after its formation, the rock was lifted up into a mountain range reaching as high as six miles. This is comparable to the Himalayas mountain range. Erosion turned the rock into a plateau which once again rose to mountainous heights. Millions of more years went by and the mountains were chipped away by wind and water.

Our First View of the Grand Canyon


The entire range of mountains ended up underwater where shellfish became fossilized. The result was a layer of shale on top of the sunken mountains. The entire region rose again to great heights, with the oceanic layer on top. This was approximately six million years ago. The Colorado River began its work, cutting and eroding the rock for millions of years until the canyon became what we see today. The canyon is approximately a mile in depth, 277 miles in length and 4 to 18 miles in width. Prehistoric tribes lived in the caves of the canyon for ages before European explorers discovered the canyon.

The first European to see the Grand Canyon was a Spanish explorer named Garcia Lopez de Cardenas. He arrived at the canyon in the year 1540. Despite the European exploration, the canyon remained largely unexplored until after the Civil War. Major John Wesley Powell was a one armed veteran who took a group of boats down the length of the canyon. Two of the boats were lost, but Powell completed his journey. In the 1880s a charismatic man named John Hance started taking tour groups into the canyon, a practice that is still done today.

The answer to how the Grand Canyon was formed is one of history and heritage. Along with the millions of years worth of erosion and climate changes, there are also historical American landmarks. The Kolb studio and ever-popular El Tovar Hotel date all the way back to 1904. Other historic buildings worth visiting while at the Grand Canyon National Park include the Desert View Watchtower and Bright Angel Lodge which were built in the 1930s.

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