8 Facts About the Grand Canyon You Never Knew

Colorado River running through Grand Canyon National Park
Grand Canyon National Park - Shutterstock

Despite being one of the most famous and most-visited attractions in the United States, Grand Canyon National Park still holds some surprises. Here are a few facts about the Grand Canyon you probably don't know.

We don't really know how old it is

It has long been believed that the Colorado River began carving the Grand Canyon about 6 million years ago, but a 2012 study contained a real shocker, suggesting that the process may have begun as far back as 70 million years. In all likelihood, the Grand Canyon as we know it today started out as a series of smaller canyons 70 million years ago, but the majority of the canyon did not begin to take shape until much more recently.

The Grand Canyon at sunrise

Grand Canyon National Park

iStock

The Grand Canyon creates its own weather

Of all Grand Canyon facts, this one is pretty cool – no pun intended. Sudden changes in elevation have an enormous impact on temperature and precipitation, so the weather you're experiencing could vary drastically depending on where you are in the Grand Canyon. The coldest, wettest weather station in the region is the Bright Angel Ranger Station on the North Rim, while the hottest (and one of the driest) is just 8 miles away at Phantom Ranch.

It's not the deepest canyon in the world

The Yarlung Tsangpo Grand Canyon in Tibet plummets to a depth of 17,567 feet, making it more than 2 miles deeper than the Grand Canyon's 6,093 feet. The Tibetan canyon is also about 30 miles longer than the Grand Canyon. 

Toroweap Point at the Grand Canyon

Toroweap Point at Grand Canyon National Park

iStock

There are no dinosaur bones in the Grand Canyon

The Grand Canyon might look like the perfect place to go looking for dinosaur bones, but none have ever been found there, and for good reason. The rock that makes up the canyon walls is vastly more ancient than the dinosaurs – about a billion years more ancient, in some cases – but the canyon itself probably didn't form until after the dinosaurs were long gone.

There are lots of other fossils in the area

While the dinosaurs might have missed out on seeing the Grand Canyon, lots of other fossils have been found that suggest other creatures frequented the location. They range from ancient marine fossils dating back 1.2 billion years to fairly recent land mammals that left their remains in canyon caves about 10,000 years ago.

The Colarado River at Grand Canyon National Park

The Colorado River, Grand Canyon National Park

iStock

Fish are relatively uncommon in the Grand Canyon

Prior to modern flood control measures, the Colorado River provided a uniquely difficult habitat for fish, with heavy silt, frequent floods, and temperatures ranging from extreme heat in summer to sub-freezing in winter. As a result, only eight fish species are native to the Grand Canyon, six of which are found nowhere outside of the Colorado River.

There's a town in the Grand Canyon

Lists of Grand Canyon facts don’t often include information about its human population, but surprisingly, it does have one. Supai Village is located at the base of the Grand Canyon within the Havasupai Indian Reservation. Inaccessible by road and with a population of just 208, it is the most remote community in the lower 48 states, and is the only place where mail is still delivered by pack mule

Supai Village located within the Havasupai Indian Reservation

Supai Village located within the Havasupai Indian Reservation

iStock

We're missing 950 million years’ worth of rocks

The Grand Canyon offers one of the most visible examples of a worldwide geological phenomenon known as the Great Unconformity, in which 250 million-year-old rock strata lie back-to-back with 1.2 billion-year-old rocks. What happened during the hundreds of millions of years between remains largely a mystery.

Sunset illuminating the striated red rock cliffs at the Grand Canyon

Grand Canyon National Park

iStock

You might think you know all the facts about the Grand Canyon, but this Arizona landmark is still full of surprises. Pay a visit to Grand Canyon National Park to learn about the canyon's unique history, and get a firsthand look at its indescribable natural beauty.

Comments

Please do not let mining take place near the canyon!
Cordelia
Kates
i am sure it wont i hope but some people are greedy, soooooo
Nesma
Abdo ALkamel
It is not allowed! that is why there are so many ranger stations. Plus, you would have to have a permit to do it... so yeah... :l
HI
HI
It is more of a license
Joshua
Gauntt
How do people even get down that thing, Like do they skydive? :/ Pxrison
Pxrison
l
Dude, they don't skydive... THEY HIKE DOWN! Have you been there tho..? You would know if you had. .-.
i
f
I agree with you.
Dhiyaa
Duraivel
I totally agree with you!! It would ruin the canyons structure and could cause them to fall over and break...And that would not be good.
Sadie
Dabbs
It is destroying Mother Nature I completely agree with all of you
Sydney
Roberts
This is so unfair the Grand Canyon is beautiful no one should mine there
Hi
Bob
you have no mention of the emergency river boat pick up location. where you can drive to the bottom of the canyon
Doug
Hendricks
I agree with you... What if somebody would want go down there?
Drini
Hamza
Out in the Hualapai Indian Nation, by paid permit, you are able to enter the the Canyon and have access to Colorado River all at once. Please keep it clean and usable for all those that love nature. White water rafting is also available.
Michelle
Ross
Please don't let anything happen to this beautiful place I have so many memories there!!!!!
Imerion
Gareters
This really helped me with my research. Thx a lot
rob
stewart
me too
jason
cui
Yeah, I agree! This was really helpful for my project on the Grand Canyon. I would really like to go there someday when COVID-19 is over. But again thank you so much!
Emmie
Liesen
i want to visit here but how
Hunter
Burford
Same
Jimmy
Smith
ya it did help me with mine quite a bit too
mike
rotch
I am just saying the Grand Canyon is the best
Ryan
McCabe
Grand Canyon is millions of years old ? That's an opinion not a fact !!
david
pinder
actually google says that the grand canyon is about 70 million years old.
branden
mccluskey
This helped me thx but sorry to say, he is right though
Riley
Howard
No, it's not an opinion. It's a scientific fact. The youngest strata of the Grand Canyon (near the top) are some 250 million years old, and the oldest rocks (near the very bottom) are over a billion.
Rick
Pierson
the idea that the Grand Canyon is NOT millions of years old is a mere opinion. The fact that it IS millions of years old is indisputable reality. Don't mix apples & oranges. :)
Wylie
Cox
The Grand Canyon is over million years old it's not an opinion its a fact.
Nikki
BLANK
one thing is for sure a fact .... it's older than i am <;o)
Manneke
Achternaam
It's natures finest work. I personally wil fight to preserve it.
Cynthia
Crawford
Me too
Grace
Hughes

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