For over a century, tourists have traveled from all over the world to admire the Grand Canyon’s breathtaking vistas. Here are 5 things about the Grand Canyon you never knew.
1. Scientists do not know how old it is
In 2012, a shocking study suggested that the process may have begun as far back as 70 million years ago.
2. The Grand Canyon creates its own weather
The immensity and steep changes in elevation enable the Grand Canyon to create its own weather! Sudden changes in elevation have an enormous impact on temperature and precipitation. Therefore, the weather can vary dramatically depending on your location and the time of year you visit. For example, the Bright Angel Ranger Station on the North Rim is the coldest and wettest in the region. The canyon rises to an elevation of 8,000 feet on the North Rim. In comparison, the hottest and one of the driest areas is just 8 miles away at Phantom Ranch, where the canyon drops to 2,000 feet above sea level.
3. There are lots of hidden fossils in the Grand Canyon, with the exception of dinosaur remains
In the rock formations lie an abundance of fossils hidden within. According to National Park Service (NPS), fossils date back to the Precambrian Era, 1.2 million years ago. The sedimentary rocks are rich with marine fossils such as crinoids and brachiopods, along with terrestrial fossils such as footprints of scorpions and reptiles.
You may be thinking, what about dinosaur fossils? Not at the Grand Canyon! As a matter of fact, the rock that makes up the canyon walls are older than the oldest recorded dinosaurs.
4. There’s a small town inside the Grand Canyon
There are people living in the Grand Canyon? Yup! In fact, there are approximately 208 people living in the base of the canyon. Supai Village, home to the Havasupai Tribe is the only town that resides in the Grand Canyon and is an 8-mile hike from the canyon’s rim. It is inaccessible by road and is one of the most isolated places in the southern portion of the United States. It is also the only place where mail and food are still delivered by pack mule.
5. We’re missing 1.2 billion years’ worth of rocks
The canyon is one of the best places that showcases the global geological phenomenon known as the Great Unconformity. Particularly, a gap in the rock record when 250 million-year-old rock strata rest back-to-back with 1200 million-year-old rocks. For instance, it could represent a time where no rocks were preserved, formed or rocks were formed but then eroded away. It remains a mystery what happened during all those years.