Grand Canyon Solo Group Tours
The word epic doesn’t really do justice to the sheer majesty and otherworldliness of this incredible natural wonder in the heart of America. This mile-deep forge lies in the north of Arizona and is an estimated 5-6 millions years and been host to humans since the Ice Age. Walking amidst the vast site is enough to make you feel the weight of history and gives a great sense of perspective. We spend a couple of days here on the Coyote Trip including an unforgettable night, under the stars, within the canyon itself. This guide gives a sense to its sheer dimensions, history and space in American culture. It’s a part of our Canyons to California trip, West Coast Adventure and The Full Coyote.
Scientists believe that the Grand Canyon was formed over 5 million years ago following the Colorado River causing the layers of rock to erode. The river then cut a channel through the rock to expose rocks and part of the Earth’s crust dating back 2 billion years! This has meant it has become something of a mecca for geologists discovering more about the earth’s history! The oldest rocks are the Vishnu Basement Rocks and can seen in the Inner Gorge. These would have bene formed when this volcanic ocean chain linked to the North American continent.
Native American History
It’s believed prehistoric humans lived in this areas at a time when mammoths wandered the earth. There are stone spear points that indicate this along with other ruins. There have also been discoveries of figurines shaped like animals which date back to 2,000 B.C and may have been part of a pre-hunting ritual. The Havasupai people lived in the area for 800 years and claim this as their ancestral home.
Europeans and Pioneers
It was not until the 16thcentury that the first Europeans bore witness to this landmark with Spanish explorers reaching the Canyon. A further 300 years passed before Joseph Ives, an America soldier, entered the canyon and this led to naturalists and explorers setting out map the area and discover the secrets within.
These pioneers settled around the end of the 19thcentury and soon realised that tourism would be as valuable as any of the resources within the site. It was granted federal protection in 1893 by President Benjamin Harrison. The completion of the Santa Fe Railroad from Flagstaff to the newly created Grand Canyon Village in 1901 meant tourism could really start. These tourists included the then President, Teddy Roosevelt who made the area a federal game reserve and 16 years later in became a National Park.
After becoming a National Park in 1919- the Canyon was visited by 44,000 people- this number has been steadily increasing through the decades and the site has taken on international notoriety. Today, it would typically receive 5 million people a year and yet you can still feel a sense of total remoteness whilst hiking. This development has not been without controversy. There were initial concerns with the government taking land from the Havasupai people. A large portion of this was returned in 1975 following a media campaign and nowadays many of the Havasupai make a living from tourism in their part of the Canyon.
The Grand Canyon skywalk was another controversial attraction as some say it disturbs sacred ground and is an eye-sore. This is a walkway with a glass-bottomed floor allowing views beneath. The government have limited the number of helicopter and river trips too as a way of preventing over-tourism. It’s a tricky balance as the communities around here as very reliant on people visiting but it is also important to respect the Native American sacred sites and to protect the local environment. It was this concern that blocked the proposed development of the Grand Canyon Escalade that would have led to many more hotels and tourism facilities on a 420 acre site. It had been green-lit in 2012 before the Navajo Nation Council firmly rejected it.
- The Grand Canyon actually creates its own weather so you can experience totally different weather conditions depending on where you are within the canyon itself.
- There are fossils there that date back over a billion years!
- There’s only 8 fish species in the Canyon due to the tricky habitat for fish with the dramatic ranges from extreme heat in summer to freezing cold in winter!
- There’s a remote community within the Canyon within the Havusapai Indian Reservation called the Supai village with a population of just 208 people.
- Take your time- you can do a quick drive-by and get a great photo and then leave but the best way to really take in the magic of the Canyon and absorb its history is to stay for a while. That’s why we camp overnight and do a long hike there so you can see more and get a sense of the place.
- Understand the local cultures- there’s a fascinating Native American history here and it’s both interesting and respectful to take the time to learn about this.
- It goes without saying but be sure not to leave rubbish or do anything that might adversely affect the local environment.
- Pre a day hike – check the weather and make sure to pack accordingly- there can be some extreme temperatures here. There’s no such thing as bad weather just bad equipment!
Wild Wilderness Destinations