- While the Grand Canyon is well known around the world, there is a lot that you might not know about the national park.
- The landmark is so big that Rhode Island could fit inside of it, and much of it has yet to be explored.
- The national park also has diverse wildlife, endangered species, and unexplored caves.
- Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.
The Grand Canyon is one of the natural wonders of the world, and for good reason.
While the canyon, which is in Arizona, is one of the country’s best known natural features, there may still be some things you never knew about it.
Here are 10 facts that may surprise you about the national park.
Although no one can really agree on the exact age of the Grand Canyon, scientists believe at least part of it is 70 million years old.
Since the Colorado River cut through the landscape centuries ago, it has taken vital information with it that could have told scientists the exact age of the landscape, and there has been debate over exactly how far back it dates.
According to a study released in 2014, tests on the temperature history of the rock show that at least one stretch (the Hurricane segment) could date back as far as 70 million years, but much of the Grand Canyon as we know it is 5 to 6 million years old, when the Colorado River cut through.
“Although parts of the canyon are old, we conclude that the integration of the Colorado River through older [canyons] carved the Grand Canyon, beginning 5-6 million years ago,” the study said.
The oldest human artefact found in the park dates back 12,000 years.
The earliest people in the region were Native Americans, and they still inhabit the area today. In fact, the Havasupai Tribe has called the Grand Canyon home for 800 years. Today, their culture still has deep connections to the water and the land.
The Grand Canyon is so big that it can fit the entire state of Rhode Island inside of it.
You can experience completely different temperatures or weather patterns in different parts of the landmark because it’s so expansive.
At the South Rim, the mean high temperature is 63°F, while the mean high temperature at the North Rim is 56°F. The mean high temperature at the Phantom Ranch is the warmest at 82°F.
Only 30% of the Grand Canyon’s caves have been explored.
There are about 1,000 caves in the park, but only 335 have been explored and recorded.
The Grand Canyon is one of the most visited national parks in the US.
In 2019, the Grand Canyon had 5.97 million visitors, making it the second most visited national park. The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is the most visited, with 12.5 million visitors annually.
Natural fires are good for the Grand Canyon and help maintain the ecosystem.
Fires have occurred in the Grand Canyon for thousands of years, but in recent years, people have tried to put out those fires, resulting in damage and the unnatural build-up of trees, shrubs, and grasses.
Since researchers learned that the fires are actually good for the ecosystem and helped to thin the forest and recycle nutrients, fire managers now control the fires but never put them out.
President Teddy Roosevelt played a big role in preserving the Grand Canyon.
Roosevelt first visited the landscape in 1903, and it had an impact on him, prompting him to sign a bill that would protect the Grand Canyon Game Reserve. After that, he turned the Grand Canyon into a national monument.
Roosevelt Point was created on the North Rim with a plaque that honours the president’s contributions.
The Grand Canyon is filled with wildlife, including 373 species of birds and 91 species of mammals.
The list of wildlife continues with 8,480 known species of invertebrates, 58 species of reptiles, and 18 species of fish.
There are seven endangered species that call the Grand Canyon home.
Among the species are birds (the California condor, the southwestern willow flycatcher, and Ridgway’s rail), fish (the humpback chub and the razorback sucker), and a species of snail, the Kanab ambersnail.