Frequently Asked Questions about the Grand Canyon

Q: How old is the Grand Canyon?

Most experts tell us that the Grand Canyon is between 5 to 6 million years old, (considered a Young Canyon). This is when the Colorado River arrived and began carving it. There are some theories that believe the West Canyon is about 10 million years older. This is where the glass skywalk is.

Q: How deep is the Grand Canyon?

From the South rim about 6,000 feet at its deepest. From the North rim closer to 8,000 feet at its deepest, the North rim being higher in elevation.

Q: How wide is the Grand Canyon?

From 10 to 18 miles across in some parts.

Q: How was the Grand Canyon formed?

Many things happened over a great expanse of time with many different theories. It is widely agreed that 5 significant things happened on a massive scale. First a tremendous amount of changing environments which became solidified into rock called deposition, literally a record of time. Second, a large uplifting of a vast plateau, called the Colorado Plateau, measuring 140,000 square miles, bringing all the layers up with it.Thirdly, the Colorado River arriving, cutting deeply into the plateau, exposing layers. Fourth,an ancient lake called Lake Bitahochi the size of Lake Michigan over spilling its boundaries and adding a tremendous additional force. Finally, lava pouring in and creating 13 different unstable lava dams, contributing to temporary backups helping to create additional width.

Q: How long is the Colorado River?

From its beginnings in Colorado to the Sea of Cortez, 1,450 miles (277 of which is cutting through the Grand Canyon).

Q: Can I drive to the bottom?


Q: Why the changes in temperatures from top to bottom?

Elevation change pure and simple.

Q: What are all the colorful layers?

Called strata, these layers reflect the changes through close to 2 billion years of time, each colorful layer being of a different environment.

Q: Does it snow here?

Yes, but never reaches the bottom where it’s too warm.

Q: What is the average rainfall?

10 to 13 inches annually, but at the bottom less than 10 inches.

Q: Is hunting allowed in the National Park?


Q: How big is the National Park?

One million. Two Hundred Thousand acres, of which about 85% is canyon.

Q: When did it become a National Park?


Q: How many different species of life are found in the Grand Canyon?

Around 2,000.

Q: How many species of animals?

Around 500

Q: Are there rattlesnakes above?

On very rare occasions.

Q: How much time is it to get to the North rim from the South?

About 4 and a half hours.

Q: What are the rapids rated on the river?

The Colorado River rapids are the finest in the world, ranking on a scale of 1 to 10, with three number tens.

Q: How many Native American tribes are here?

There are five that have Grand Canyon land. The Paiute, Havasupai, Hualapi, Navajo and the Hopi.

Q: Does anybody live down there?

Residents maintain the Phantom Ranch where you can spend a night. The mule rides down includes a night stay there. Also, the Havasupai have a village called Supai two thirds of the way to the bottom, where they’ve continually grown crops and lived for a thousand years.

Q: How long to hike to the river?

Figure 4 to 6 hours, and double that to get back up.

Q: What are these tall trees on top?

Ponderosa Pines thrive at South rim elevations.

Q: Where is the glass sky walk?

Towards Las Vegas 4 hours on Hualapai Indian land.

Q: Do people die here?

5 to 15 a year on average, most being hikers, with over 300 rescues a year.

Q: How long have Native Americans been here?

Evidence of their presence here dates back 12,000 years when they followed large herds of now extinct Megafauna (Mastadon, Wooly Mammoth, 12 foot sloths and sabre tooth tigers), hunting with spears.

Q: What is the Painted Desert?

The colorful flat lands to the Northeast, home to the Navajo and the Hopi.

Q: Where are the Indian Reservations?

The Hopi and Navajo Indian Reservations are about 80 miles from the park.

Q: Will we see Native Americans?

Yes. The Hopi, Navajo and Apache tribes are native to the Grand Canyon Area, and are still active in their traditions.

Q: What is the best way to see the canyon?

It is up to the individual on how to see the canyon. Stop at the Visitor Center where you can get information on tour buses, helicopter tours, airplane tours, as well as the mule rides. Depending how much you want to spend and how much time you have it is totally up to the individual.

Q: How far is Phoenix?

231 miles

Q: How far is Flagstaff?

81 miles

Q: How far is Las Vegas?

278 miles

Q: How far is the North Rim?

212 miles

Q: What is the weather like in the summer and does it snow there?

The South Rim of the canyon is 7,000 feet above sea level so it does snow here in the winter. Temperatures below the rim are 20 degrees higher than what you find above the rim.

Q: Is the park wheel chair accessible?

Many of the facilities in the park are historic and some do not meet current accessibility standards. Please write for a copy of: Accessibility Guide PO Box 129 Grand Canyon, AZ 86023

Q: What is the best view of the canyon?

There is really no one view point that is the best for the view of the canyon. West Rim Drive and the East Rim Drive offers excellent views of the canyon and river.

Q: What time does the park close?

The SOUTH RIM is open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. All visitor services: camping, lodging and restaurants are available year round. Reservations are strongly recommended during the busy summer season. Some facilities are closed during the winter.

Q: Is there a shuttle bus available for transportation in the park?

Grand Canyon National Park provides a free Shuttle Bus System in the park. The Village Route operates year round.

Q: Are there any restrooms available for use in the park?

There are restrooms available throughout the park

Q: Is food available in the park?

There is a food court available within the Grand Canyon Experience Building and there are restaurants and grocery stores available in the park and seven miles outside the park.

Q: Is camping available in the park or in the canyon?

Camping is available at Mather Campground and in Trailer Village with RV hook-ups. Reservations can be made by calling (303) 297-2757. Additional camping is available outside the park at Camper Village – RV campground or camping “at- large” in the national forest outside the park. Write to: Tusayan Ranger District, Kaibab National Forest PO Box 3088 Grand Canyon, AZ 86023

Q: Where is lodging available?

Lodging is available inside the park as well as in Tusayan seven miles outside the park. Lodging is available also in Williams – 50 miles from Grand Canyon National Park.



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