Grand Canyon

Nature's biggest wonder according to many

The Grand Canyon is the largest canyon in the world. This natural wonder in the United States is definitely worth a visit., in any season of the year.

This immense gorge has a special history. It was once a gigantic inland sea. All you see is the material that once ended up on the ocean floor.

The Grand Canyon is impressive, and above all beautiful. Unfortunately, most people take too little time for this natural spectacle. A day is way too short, even a few days is. Hiking in the unique landscape is true magic.

As in many places in the world, the current of a river (in this case the Colorado River) causes erosion, but in the Grand Canyon it is mainly thunderstorms that create the immense landscape.

The figures of this natural monument are impressive. This gorge is 466 kilometers long. The width of this immense gorge varies from more than 6 to almost 29 kilometers. The maximum height is almost 2,000 meters, in most places it is about 1,600 meters. These are my tips for the best attractions and excursions in the Grand Canyon.

Havasu Falls

Havasu Falls is een ongekend mooie waterval in de Grand Canyon, Verenigde Staten.

Havasu Falls is one of the hidden gems of Grand Canyon National Park. You can hike to the waterfalls and go for a refreshing dive before heading back.

Check my tips for Havasu Falls 

South Rim

The South Rim in Grand Canyon.

The south side is the most popular side of the Grand Canyon, and therefore also the busiest. Grand Canyon Village in particular is very touristy; you can literally drive the car to the edge of the gorge. There are numerous viewpoints that you can reach on foot (and by car).

The South Rim is the starting point for countless hikes. You have a great choice. It is best to go to the visitor center to get the most up-to-date information there. I went in the afternoon so I could get out early the next day. with first the sunrise from various viewpoints, and then walk into the gorge.

Desert View Watchtower

The Desert View Watchtower has great views.

The Desert View Watchtower is a replica of an old Native American tower from 1932. It is located in the east of the park. Due to its location, it offers a special view of the Grand Canyon and the Painted Desert in the distance. This approximately 25 meters high tower is the highest point on the south side of the gorge.

North Rim

The north side of the Grand Canyon is much quieter, with only 10 percent of all visitors coming here. While the views from this side are (according to many) much more dramatic. The gorge is also 300 meters higher on this side. The facilities are limited and so is the number of activities. Ideal for those who want peace and quiet. This part is not accessible out of season (from mid-May to mid-October) due to the climate.

Toroweap Overlook

The vie from Toroweap Overlook.

According to experts, the Toroweap Overlook provides the most beautiful view of the entire Grand Canyon. Toroweap lies in the outer west of the park on the Northside (which is often referred to as North Rim). 

It is surrounded by remarkably steep walls and provides a direct view of the Colorado river. This is one of the wildest sections of the Grand Canyon. Tourism is purposefully kept to a minimum here, so the experience can be optimal. You can also camp close by.

Mather Point

The popular Mather Point.

Every bus will stop at Mather Point. Therefore, the big rock is often overcrowded. However, it is one of the best spots to witness a spectacular sunrise. Slowly, the sun will shed its light inside the gorge. A spectacular view, since all kinds of shadows, will be formed as its light glides across the hills. Check the weather forecast in advance and get there early, you won’t be disappointed.

Diamond Creek Road

The lesser known Diamond Creek road.

Almost everybody visits the South Rim first. With a perfect view, but you don’t get in to it. If you don’t want to walk, you can also go to the bottom of the canyon by car. From the Hualapai Lodge, a single road leads to the bottom. 

On this 30-kilometer Diamond Creek Road, you can clearly see how Mother Nature has shaped this enormous gorge. The lodge is on the famed Route 66, West of the Grand Canyon.

Colorado river

A view from the Colorado River.

The Colorado River is one of the most famous rivers in the USA. It is more than 2,300 kilometers long and has its source in the Rocky Mountains. It ends in the Gulf of California. And this river is the most important sculptor in the Grand Canyon. The river squeezes its way through the gorge and actually causes the Grand Canyon to get a little deeper.

If you walk into the gorge you can stand on the bank of the river. With left and right the steep walls of the Grand Canyon. It was one of the most extraordinary views I have ever had.

Rafting on the Colorado River

Rafting in this spectacular scenery.

Rafting junkies refer to the Colorado river as ‘The Beast’. The river has many Class IV rapids, some even Class V, which is for experienced rafters. There are many different trips, but those who are fearless will choose Lower Grand Canyon as a departure point.

This is where the fiercest rapids are. If you like quieter waters and want to take the time to take pictures, you should go to the Upper Grand Canyon. If you can’t get tired of rapids, no worries. There is enough opportunity for a week’s worth of rafting.

Tusayan Ruins and Museum

Tusayan Ruins are real remains of a small Anasazi village. The remains have been dated by scientists to 1,100 AD. The Anasazi then lived in large parts of this area. In the accompanying museum you can get a glimpse how hard life must have been. It is actually mandatory to understand how humans have dealt with this natural disaster.

Californian condor

A Californian Condor in the Grand Canyon.

The California condor is one of the largest birds of prey in the world. They can grow to over a meter and have striking dark brown feathers. Their head is bare and can be of various colours. From deep red to white and black. This depends on their age. And whether it is mating season or not. In recent years, bred animals have also been released in this area.

Which are occasionally seen floating in the air. Note how small they look in the Grand Canyon, even though they have a wingspan of nearly three feet. If you are very lucky you will see them during a walk when they are sitting in the sun with their wings frying wide.

History of the Grand Canyon

The history of the Grand Canyon is very special. Like many places in the world ensures the flow of a river (in this case, the Colorado River) for mass erosion. But in the Grand Canyon, it is especially thunderstorms that sculpture the immense landscape. All the time, year after year. Decade after decade. For millions of years.

The size of this nature reserve is more than impressive. This canyon is 466 km/290 miles long. The width varies from more than 6 (or 3.7 miles) to almost 29 kilometers (18 miles). The maximum height is nearly 2,000 meters (1,2 miles), but most places are around 1,600 meters or 1 mile in height.

The incredibly widespread view on the Grand Canyon. ©Corno van den Berg

Controling the Grand Canyon

Numerous dams (including the famous Hoover Dam) regulate the water (and all the debris) of the Colorado River.

It’s hard to imagine how this landscape has emerged. Only recently scientists have figured out what the main forces of nature are in the Grand Canyon. In particular severe thunderstorms play an essential role. These provide extreme floods (called flash floods) that refurnish the rocks, sand, and more. They constantly change the many horizontal layers of sandstone, shale, and limestone. This sculpting happens on an immense scale.

It wasn’t until six million years ago before the fallen snow and rain had carved out the first layer. Research shows the river has now reached the underlying (harder) layer of granite. The walls are predominantly soft layers of sand. These are (even now) ‘worked over’ further by wind and frost and the sun, causing the landscape to continuously change. Man has lived in this rugged landscape for centuries, the remnants of a rich past still present as proof of this.

Best time for Grand Canyon

If you want to go hiking in the Grand Canyon, it is best to visit during the fall (September-November) or spring (April-May). Temperatures are pleasant and there won’t be that many busses and tourists around.

The busiest time at the Grand Canyon is during the summer (June-August). Although temperatures can rise till 43 Celsius or 109 Fahrenheit and there won’t be much flora and fauna, many tourists visit the area.

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Be aware!

The Grand Canyon has a desert climate. In summertime, temperatures can rise up to 43 Celsius at the bottom of the canyon. Always check the weather forecast before you head out. After severe rainfall, it is not uncommon that flush-floods happen.

The Grand Canyon is one of the most popular places to visit as a tourist. Especially at the viewpoints, it will be busy with large groups traveling by tourist bus. However, when you take your time to explore the area and visit lesser-known sights or do some activity, it will be much quieter.

Despite the many rules and fences, accidents happen. Sometimes with a deadly ending. Trails can be slippery, people get lost during a hike or go out unprepared. Make sure there is always someone who knows what you are up to. They can be your savior when you don’t show up at the end of the day…

Visiting Grand Canyon

Choose beforehand which part of the Grand Canyon you want to visit. The South Rim is approximately 140 kilometers or 87 miles north of Flagstaff. This area is the busiest with tourists. 

The North Rim is much quieter and lies approximately 45 kilometers (28 miles) from Jacob Lake.

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