Grand Canyon isn't just spectacular - it's one of the seven natural wonders of the world, along with Mount Everest in Nepal, Victoria Falls in Zambia/Zimbabwe, Australia's Great Barrier Reef, the Northern Lights, Paricutin Volcano in Mexico and Harbor of Rio de Janeiro in Brazil. The Canyon attracts 4.5 million visitors from all over the world annually.
The Grand Canyon Forest Reserve was established on Feb. 20, 1893. In 1908, President Theodore Roosevelt declared the Canyon a national monument under the Antiquities Act. Congress declared the Canyon a national park in 1919, three years after the National Park Service was formed.
The 277-mile long, one-mile deep canyon covers a total of 1,900 square miles. It was discovered in 1540 by Spanish explorer Don Lopez de Cardenas, a captain in Coronado's expedition.
One-and-one-half kilometers below the South Rim, the Colorado River flows at an average speed of four miles per hour. Averaging 300 feet wide and 100 feet deep, the river flows west through the Canyon, bends south and empties into the Gulf of California in Mexico.
Five different Native American tribes presently occupy the region - Hopi, Navajo, Havasupai, Pauite and Hualapai.
The Grand Canyon is home to 70 species of mammals, 250 species of birds, 25 species of reptiles and five species of amphibians.
Exhibits, educational programs, books, maps, pamphlets and a Grand Canyon Association bookstore can be found at Canyon View Information Plaza near Mather Point and at other Grand Canyon retail sales outlets.
Daily lectures and films about the geological history of the Canyon and the Colorado River are shown by Park Service rangers. Visitors can also choose from a variety of Park Service-sponsored walks and talks to enhance their Canyon experience.
The visitor's center hosts programs that focus on endangered wildlife in the Canyon and preservation of the Canyon's historical and natural resources.
Various other walks and talks hosted by the Park Service are listed in the park newspaper, The Guide, available at the entrance station, headquarters and CVIP.
For complete up-to-date information, visitors should stop at the Canyon View Information Plaza near Mather Point or at the National Geographic Visitors Center about a mile south of the Park Entrance on the west side of State Route 64.