why is the grand canyon a world heritage site

In a country with such natural beauty and diversity it is no wonder that three U. S. National Parks have been declared UNESCO World Heritage Sites Yellowstone, Yosemite and. Grand Canyon National Park, one of the world s earliest, was designated as such in 1919 and as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1979. The Grand Canyon National Park boasts that even the best photographs can t adequately capture. About the size of Delaware, but located in Arizona, the park is big enough to contain exposed rock that as old as two billion years and has enough diverse microclimates that people can be hiking through snowdrifts and sunbathing on the river bank on the same day. is credited with leading the first passage through the Grand Canyon in 1869 on the Powell. Powell, a U. S. soldier and trained geologist, explored the Colorado River and the surrounding areas, gathering information and providing recommendations to developers back east. The extremely rugged and remote landscape of the area prevented major agricultural development, but made it a top-notch destination for intrepid outdoor explorers and athletes. Even so, only 3. 3 percent of the terrain has been surveyed by archeologists, who continue to look for more evidence from groups who once inhabited the area.


Carbon dating indicates that some artifacts found there date from as far back as 2900 B. C. It is thought that people have lived in the area for at least 8,000 years. The, who are native to the area, continue to live there in Supai village and the surrounding lands; their rock art decorates the nearby cliffs. Today, the park hosts more than four million tourists each year, who walk the trails, climb the cliffs, photograph the scenery, row the river, explore by helicopter, and revel in the grandeur of the Canyon. What s your favorite National Park and why? Share below. Take your family to the Grand Canyon this summer. in June 2010 for an exploration of the park. Smithsonian Journeys also travels to Yosemite, Yellowstone, Big Bend, and Glacier National Parks. for details. There is a new mini-series on PBS by Ken Burns about our National Parks. to learn more.
Bill Bryson once said that "nothing prepares you for the Grand Canyon. No matter how many times you read about it or see it pictured, it still takes your breath away. Your mind, unable to deal with anything on this scale, just shuts down and for many long moments you are a human vacuum, without speech or breath, but just a deep, inexpressible awe that anything on this earth could be so vast, so beautiful, so silent. " That about sums it up, and what's more is that I don't think there's a picture in existence that can do it justice (although I've included a pretty one from the South-Eastern end).


My husband has been eager to take me to the Grand Canyon for as long as I've known him, and we made the trip in September 2004, on our tour of some exceptional World Heritage Sites in the South-Western USA. It was the first WHS of the trip and though I spent three days rambling around, hiking and viewing the Canyon from many angles, I never got used to seeing it. It's so huge that it doesn't look real - it seems like a painting. Unfortunately, it's a major tourist attraction and can get quite crowded. The first day we ventured up there (we were staying in nearby Williams, Arizona) was the Sunday of a holiday weekend, and the throngs of people were most intimidating. The worst thing of all was that people were climbing over the safety barriers out onto rock ledges for photo opportunities. Most tourists don't realize that people fall to their deaths into the Canyon every year, and all it takes is for someone to lose their footing on one of those rocks! What we found, though, is that most people stopped at the main viewpoint by the visitors' centre and never bothered to go anywhere else.


On that first day we caught a shuttle bus (just park the car and leave it) out to the Kaibab trail (the trail with the best views, in our opinion) and hiked below the rim. Even on that busy holiday we saw relatively few people on the trail, which was nice. Even the easy trails are quite challenging (what goes down must come up), but if you come prepared with your water and salty snacks, it is completely worthwhile. We also recommend the Desert View Drive, which takes you to the East end of the Canyon, and also seemed relatively unpopulated by tourists. We had our best views on that drive. Everybody talks about viewing the Canyon at sunset; however the whole experience is overrated, in my opinion. We took another shuttle to Hopi Point on our last night (when most of the holiday weekend crowds had left) and it was crowded (so most people didn't get many nice pictures) and not that nice anyway. My father warned me that there would be planes flying into the Canyon all the time by rich jerks who'd rather pollute the air and disturb all the other visitors than get some exercise and walk to see the great views, but happily this was not the case when we were there. I don't think I saw a single plane.

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