The Grand Canyon is one of the biggest and deepest canyons in the world. Its size, along with being easily accessible to visitors, has made it one of the most popular tourist attractions in the United States.
The Grand Canyon is well known for its beautiful and colorful landscape, and every year it draws about five million visitors, 17% of whom are from outside the United States. The canyon is the result of the Colorado River cutting a channel through massive rocks over a period of six million years. The canyon we see today is 446 kilometers long, between 6.4 and 29 kilometers wide, and about 1.86 kilometers deep.
The walls of the canyon record the many millions of years that it took the Colorado River to slowly gnaw its way through the rocks. To a geologist, these walls contain valuable details about the many different eras in our planet's history. To a tourist, they're just plain beautiful and make for an unforgettable photograph opportunity.
The first European to view the Grand Canyon was the Spaniard García López de Cárdenas in 1540. Back then, it was inhabited by Native American tribes that believed the canyon was a holy place. Nowadays, it's part of the Grand Canyon National Park, which is one of the oldest parks in the United States. The park covers 4,926 square kilometers, most of which is in the state of Arizona. Park headquarters can be found at the Grand Canyon Village, where most of the popular scenic viewpoints are also located.
There are many activities that visitors to the canyon can enjoy, including whitewater rafting and helicopter or airplane tours. Visitors who want to enjoy a more leisurely view of the canyon can take the Coconino Canyon Train. The park also completed the installation of a new glass walkway—the Grand Canyon Skywalk in 2007, which extends beyond the edge of the Grand Canyon.
One thing that no tourist should do at Grand Canyon National Park is approach or feed the wild animals. It's not only illegal but also dangerous because it can change an animal's habits and lead to attacks on humans.