The first European American who reached the Colorado River in the Grand Canyon marveled at what was before him: an astounding system of canyons, profound fissures and slender spires that seemingly tottered from their bases.
The scenery wasn’t enough to convince Lt. Joseph Christmas Ives that anyone would visit after his group that set out in a steamboat wrapped up an expedition in 1858.
“Ours has been the first and, doubtless, will be the last party of whites to visit this profitless locality,” he wrote. “It seems intended by nature that the Colorado River along the greater portion of its lonely and majestic way shall be forever unvisited and undisturbed.”
That clearly wasn’t the way things worked out, and the Grand Canyon in 2019 will celebrate its 100th anniversary as a national park.
Despite a federal government shutdown that has closed some other U.S. national parks, the Grand Canyon has remained open because Arizona decided to supply money needed to keep trails, shuttles and restrooms open.
It now draws more than 6 million tourists a year who peer over the popular South Rim into the gorge a mile (1.6 kilometers) deep, navigate river rapids, hike the trails and camp under the stars.