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Welcome to the Grand Canyon, one of the world’s Seven Natural Wonders. Arizona's most famous canyon is a mile deep, spans 18 miles wide and stretches for 277 miles along the Colorado River. Archeological evidence of people living in the region dates back 12,000 years although scientists estimate that the canyon began forming over 17 million years ago.
Nevertheless, American explorers discovered the Grand Canyon a mere 160 years ago. Before the first expedition to the region, it was referred to as “The Great Unknown” and denoted as a blank space on maps. The first recorded exploration of the Grand Canyon was in 1857 by Army First Lt. Joseph Christmas Ives and his team. They set out to explore the Colorado River to determine if the ambiguous region had an undiscovered trade route.
During their journey, they crashed more than 30 miles before arriving to Grand Canyon and were forced to continue their expedition on a skiff then by foot. Upon arrival, Ives reported that the region was “altogether valueless” and “shall be forever unvisited and undisturbed.”
Exploring Your Way
Today, over five million visitors travel to see the Grand Canyon annually. Most people start their tour of the national park at South Rim, TripAdvisor’s sixth most popular U.S. attraction. This entrance is open year round and provides access to the greatest number of trails. North Rim, however, offers more exclusive views and is only visited by 10% of all park tourists.
Once on site, visitors can select hiking routes or board the Grand Canyon Railway to get expansive views of the canyon’s ever-changing terrains. The historic train ride has been in service for over 115 years, and allows passengers to travel in restored, vintage cars where strolling musicians play tunes of the west. AARP Members can visit the AARP Member Advantages website to save 15% on train tickets year-round.
For tourists looking for a more immersive experience at the Grand Canyon, the Grand Canyon Railway and Hotel offers an AARP member package that includes canyon exploration, train travel, meals and nightly accommodations.
Whether you’re a history buff, experienced hiker or a first-time tourist, the Grand Canyon is sure to offer views and adventure that you’ll cherish for a lifetime.
These articles present general information and are for informational purposes only. They are not a substitute for legal, financial, medical, or other professional advice.