Grand Canyon Facts

For those not bored by a bunch of numbers and raw facts, here are some courtesy of Grand Canyon National Park and research published in the Grand Canyon Territorial Times, Volume X (1998)...


Split-twig figurines are left by Desert Archaic Cultures (3,000-4,000 years ago)

Prehistoric Pueblo Peoples are living in the canyon (900 years ago)

Hopi guides lead members of the Coronado Expedition (the first Europeans) to the canyon in 1540.

In 1869 Major John Wesley Powell leads the first successful expedition down the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon.

In 1882 then Senator Benjamin Harrison introduced the first of several unsuccessful bills to establish the Grand Canyon National Park.

John Hance, the first non-native settler, starts to promote mining and other ventures in 1883.

Famous paintings by Thomas Moran for the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railway in 1892 promote tourism.

Grand Canyon was first set aside as a forest reserve in 1893 by now President Benjamin Harrison (Presidential Proclamation #45).

In 1901 train service began between Williams and the South rim.

The next year (1902) the first automobile, a Toledo Eight Horse, made it to the canyon.

In 1905 the Santa Fe railway opened the El Tovar Hotel.

In 1906 President Theodore Roosevelt proclaimed the Grand Canyon Game Preserve.

President Theodore Roosevelt established Grand Canyon National Monument by Presidential Proclamation #794 in 1908.

Arizona becomes a state in 1912.

Administration was under the United States Forest Service until the establishment of Grand Canyon National Park on February 26, 1919. The actual administrative transfer takes place on August 15th.

Some time in the 1920s the number of people coming by automobile overtakes the number coming by train.

In 1932 President Herbert Hoover established another national monument west (downstream) of the park.

In 1956 the Colorado River Storage Project Act authorizes the Glen Canyon Dam upstream of the park. The gates of the dam were closed in 1963, flooding the area upstream of the dam; forming Lake Powell.

On January 20, 1969, just before leaving office, President Lyndon B. Johnson proclaimed Marble Canyon National Monument. This finally prevents efforts to create further dams that would have flooded the canyon.

The park was enlarged by the Grand Canyon National Park Enlargement Act, passed on January 3, 1975. Marble Canyon on the west and Grand Canyon National Monument on the east were added bringing protection to the entire area between Glen Canyon to Lake Mead.

The Raw Numbers

The Grand Canyon

Length = 277 river miles
Minimum at Marble Canyon = 600 yards
Average rim to rim = 10 miles
Average depth = 1 mile
Rim elevations
South rim = 7,000 feet
Lake Mead boundary = 1,200 feet

Colorado River (within the park)

Length = 277 miles
Average width = 300 feet
Minimum width = 76 feet
Average depth = 40 feet
Greatest depth = 85 feet
Average gradient = 8 feet/mile
Elevation at Phantom Ranch = 2,400 feet
Note: The Colorado River is 1,450 miles long from its source in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado to the Gulf of California.

Plant and Animal Life

Birds = 287 species
Mammals = 88 species
Fish = 26 species
Reptiles and Amphibians = 58 species
Plants = 1,500 species
Biotic Life Zones = 5 (Lower Sonoran, Upper Sonoran, Transition, Canadian, Hudsonian)
Endangered species


          Bald eagle
          Peregrine falcon
          Humpback chub
          Razorback sucker
          One "category-one" species
          Twelve "category-two" species
          Six "category-three" species


          Brady pincushion cactus
          Sentry milkvetch
          Eleven "category-two" species
          Twenty-six "category-three" specie

      Archeological and Historic Structures              

General: The oldest human artifacts found are between 3,000 and 4,000 years old. The park has recorded more than 2,700 archeological resources with an intensive survey of about 5 percent of the park area.

      National Historic Landmarks

Individual buildings = 4
Districts (120 buildings) = 2 

      National Register of Historic Places

Individual structures = 3
Districts (164 structures) = 4
Current nomination forms list an additional 142 buildings, 10 structures, and 5 trails.
List of Classified Structures = 485 listings (the LCS is inclusive of the National Historic Landmark and National Register Programs)


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