The Grand Canyon

Grand Canyon with Phantom Ranch

The Grand Canyon with Phantom Ranch center right

On our return to Utah from the Mesa Easter Pageant, we stopped at the Grand Canyon. The Canyon is 277 river miles long, is up to 18 miles wide, and a mile deep. It tells of geological processes in a unique combination of size, color, and dazzling erosional forms. There is a fascinating variety of plants and animals, from the desert next to the Colorado River deep in the canyon to the forests atop its North Rim.

The Making Of The Grand Canyon

The Colorado River flowed across the Colorado Plateau on its way from the Rocky Mountains to the Gulf of California. Each rain washed sparsely vegetated desert soils into the river.

A steep gradient and heavy sediment loads created a powerful tool for erosion. The river’s volume varied seasonally and over time. As the last ice age ended, the flow may have been 10 times today’s volume.

As the river cuts down, the canyon deepens. Tributaries erode into the canyon’s sides, increasing its width. Erosion carves faster into the softer rock layers, undermining harder layers above. With no foundation these layers collapse, forming the cliffs and slopes profile of the canyon. Erosion wears away the ridges separating adjacent side canyons, leaving buttes and pinnacles.

Grand Canyon

Revealed strata preserve a lengthy, although incomplete, record of Earth's history

Grand Canyon Vista with Phantom Ranch and Kaibab_Bridge

Grand Canyon Vista with Phantom Ranch and Kaibab_Bridge

Grand Canyon Kaibab Bridge

Grand Canyon Kaibab Bridge

Grand Canyon visitors

Grand Canyon visitors enjoying the magnificence of their surroundings

Jill at the Grand Canyon

Jill at the Grand Canyon

Grand Canyon Colorado River from the South Rim

Grand Canyon Colorado River from the South Rim

Bright Angel Trail

The most popular trail into the canyon begins west of the Bright Angel Lodge on the South Rim. The trailhead elevation is 6,785 feet and descends 4,380 feet to the Colorado River. The Bright Angel Trail offers wonderful views all along the trail. It has an average grade of 10% along its entire length. At trail’s end, the River Trail continues another 2 miles to the Bright Angel Campground and Phantom Ranch.

Hazards hikers can encounter along the Bright Angel Trail include dehydration, sudden rainstorms, flash flooding, loose footing, bootpacked ice, rockfall, encounters with wildlife, and extreme heat. At the Colorado River, additional hazards include hypothermia (due to the river’s consistently cold temperatures), trauma (due to collisions with boulders in rapids), and drowning.

We decided to walk for just a half-hour down the trail.

Grand Canyon group shot

Along the Bright Angel Trail: Jill, Bryson, Paul, Sarah, Derek, Jake, and Rick

Bright Angel Trail

Along the Bright Angel Trail: Derek carrying Bryson, Sarah, Jill, and Paul

Jill on the Bright Angel Trail

The end, or the beginning, of the Bright Angel Trail

Jill pausing for a photograph on the Bright Angel Trail

Jill pausing for a photograph on the Bright Angel Trail

Grand Canyon Family Photographs

Click on the links to view the family pictures shot at the Grand Canyon.

Colorado River from the South Rim of the The Grand Canyon

Colorado River from the South Rim of the the Grand Canyon

Sources

  • National Park Service Grand Canyon brochure
  • National Park Service Grand Canyon Guide & Maps
  • Wikipedia Bright Angel Trail

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Comments

  1. Those photos are excellent, what camera are you using?
    I can feel the extreme heat, good thing you guys can still smile, and it’s beautiful.

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