The Grand Canyon National Park in Arizona is a tremendous and unusual landscape that must be experienced for oneself. The canyon is one mile deep, about 10 miles wide, and 277 river miles long. It was formed by the Colorado River cutting through and eroding the plateau over many years, carving out the vast trench. Its exposed rock layers are believed to indicate more than 2 billion years of geologic history. Fossils retrieved from this region tell scientists much about the earth's evolution. This rugged area is great for hiking and backpacking for the day or on a multi-day journey. Around 5 million people travel here every year to explore the canyon and surrounding desert wilderness.
The inspirational Grand Canyon is divided into three main sections – the remote North Rim, the Inner Gorge, and the heavily traveled South Rim.
The South Rim is 7,000 feet in elevation and ranges in temperature throughout the year. This area averages 50 to 80-degrees F in the summer but often reaches over 100 degrees.
The North Rim is slightly cooler because of its higher elevation. The Inner Gorge receives the most intense heat in the summer but is relatively mild every other time of year. Winters at Grand Canyon can be extreme. Frequent storms sometimes cause a morning fog that obstructs the view of the canyon, but it usually clears up later in the day.
Snow and ice sometimes result in road closures around the South Rim. This area is open all year, but the North Rim is only open from mid-May to mid-October. Peak visiting season is July and August.
Despite dramatic climatic changes, the park is home to a variety of wildlife. The rare California Condor has been spotted in this area, along with many other birds including Stellar's Jays, ravens, hummingbirds, and Canyon Wrens. The Inner Gorge is inhabited by Desert Bighorn Sheep. Mule Deer and Elk are abundant throughout the park. Coyotes are commonly seen in the area, and predators such as Mountain Lions and Bobcats are seen on rare occasions.
Different kinds of squirrels and chipmunks also live in this desert. A variety of lizards exist here as well. The park contains more than 1,700 plant species and hundreds of fungi variations. Aside from exploring the unique wilderness, visitors enjoy many outdoor activities in this desert location including river rafting and mule trips around the canyon. There is a lot to see and do at the extensive Grand Canyon National Park.