Grand Canyon, South Rim...
Mar 21, 2010
|As we continue our Grand Canyon Loop tour, our first stop was at the Desert View Watchtower. Built in 1932 it is one of Mary Colter's best-known works. Situated at the far eastern end of the South Rim, 27 miles from Grand Canyon Village, the tower sits on a 7,400 foot promontory. It offers one of the few views of the bottom of the Canyon and the Colorado River. It is designed to mimic an Anasazi watchtower though it is larger than existing ones. Today it was undergoing some renovation work, but still open to the public. We climbed as high as possible and got an amazing view for our efforts!
Did you know that the Grand Canyon is 277 miles long, ranges in width from 4 to 18 miles and attains a depth of over a mile (6000 feet). Nearly two billion years of the Earth's geological history have been exposed as the Colorado River and its tributaries cut their channels through layer after layer of rock while the Colorado Plateau was uplifted. It is estimated that the rocks of the canyon walls are between 250 million years old at the top to a little over 2 billion years old at the bottom!
While the specific geologic processes and timing that formed the Grand Canyon are the subject of debate by geologists, recent evidence suggests the Colorado River established its course through the canyon at least 17 million years ago. Since that time, the Colorado River has continued to erode and form the canyon to the point we see it today.
U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt visited the Grand Canyon in 1903. An avid outdoorsman and staunch conservationist, he established the Grand Canyon Game Preserve on November 28, 1906. Livestock grazing was reduced, but predators such as mountain lions, eagles, and wolves, were eradicated. Roosevelt added adjacent national forest lands and redesignated the preserve a U.S. National Monument on January 11, 1908. Opponents such as land and mining claim holders blocked efforts to reclassify the monument as a U.S. National Park for 11 years but the Grand Canyon National Park was finally established as the 17th U.S. National Park by an Act of Congress on February 26, 1919.
We learned that about 600 deaths have occurred in the Grand Canyon since the 1870s. Some of these deaths occurred as the result of overly zealous photographic endeavors, some were the result of airplane collisions within the canyon, and some visitors drowned in the Colorado River. Many hikers overestimate their fitness level, become dehydrated and confused, and must be rescued. The Park Service now posts a picture of an attractive and fit young man at several trailheads with the caption "Every year we rescue hundreds of people from the Canyon. Most of them look like him", in an attempt to discourage hikers from feats which are beyond their abilities. It worked for us!!!
So that's it for today. Our visit was recorded with 337 pictures but I can't share them all with you. I picked out some of my favorites and I hope you enjoy our view of one of the seven natural wonders of the world.
Many words have been used in reaction to seeing Grand Canyon. I think I like these best:
"The Grand Canyon fills me with awe. It is beyond comparison--beyond description; absolutely unparalleled throughout the wide world .... Let this great wonder of nature remain as it now is. Do nothing to mar its grandeur, sublimity and loveliness. You cannot improve on it. But what you can do is to keep it for your children, your children's children, and all who come after you, as the one great sight which every American should see."
-President Theodore Roosevelt