Information, Grand Canyon National Park
“For years, an incomprehensible woman in pants, she rode horseback through the Four Corners making sketches of prehistoric ruins, studying details of construction, the composition of globes and washes. She could teach masons how to lay adobe bricks and plasterers how to mix washes.” Frank Walters
No, not the Mary of the movie but the one to whom the South Rim owes its most beautiful historic buildings. Mary Jane Colter was one of America’s rare, first female architects, and she either designed or decorated structures at six locations in the park, setting the stage for a style christened “National Park Service Rustic” which was adopted for other parks as well. Her philosophy was to employ natural materials found in the landscape to create lodges and other facilities which would harmonize rather than distract from the colors, scale and texture of their surroundings, and reflect the ancient indigenous human and geological history of the region.
Hired in 1902 by the Fred Harvey Company, she was to complete 21 projects for the business including boldly eschewing the popular European hunting-lodge style of the elegant El Tovar Hotel (built 1903-1905) in favor of organic designs which whisper of stories old and mysterious . A stubborn, exacting, chain-smoking, hard-drinking individual who could cuss like a sailor, she was the anthesis of the demure, starched-and-corseted Harvey Girls who were a trademark of her employer, and probably tolerated only for undeniable brilliance in her craft.
You can experience that brilliance at:
Hopi House, Grand Canyon Village, 1905
Hermit’s Rest overlook, 1914
Lookout Studio, Grand Canyon Village, 1914
Phantom Ranch Lodge, 1922
Indian Watchtower, Desert View, 1932
Bright Angel Lodge, Grand Canyon Village, 1935
All of these are registered National Historic Landmarks. Colter also decorated the lounge at El Tovar but little of that work remains. Mary spent part of her youth, graduated from high school (1883) and taught art here in my own Twin Cities (St Paul) before her first project - designing an artifacts museum in the Alvarado Hotel, Albuquerque - with the Harvey Co. She died in 1958 and is buried in Oakland Cemetery, St Paul, MN.
“In the United States, a park ranger is more likely to be assaulted in the line of duty than is any other federal officer, including those who work for the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF); and the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). A park ranger is twelve times more likely to die on the job than is a special agent for the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). In light of such numbers, some describe park rangers - like grizzly bears, wild orchids and sea turtles - as “endangered.”
Former ranger Andrea Lankford, “ Ranger Confidential; Living, Working and Dying in the National Parks”, 2010
I had to put in a plug here for the men and women of the NPS. We've come into contact with a lot of rangers in the parks, and they're the best resources you can find for what/where/how to have a good time.
These folks are the caretakers of our most valuable natural treasures and the multitudes who come to enjoy them. When you run across one on a trail, they'll be making mental notes of how much water you have, if your shoes are going to get you into trouble, and generally what kind of shape you're in. These are also the people who have to come and get you if you break a leg, collapse from heat exhaustion, fall over an edge, get stranded on a ledge, or hunt you down if you get lost.
Keep in mind that anytime you decide to risk your own neck ignoring their advice about the heat, crumbling edges, flash floods, dehydration, wild animals or any number of other perils, you may well be risking theirs as well? Training for many of them involves far more than just studying rocks and plants, including short-haul rescue, EMT, law enforcement, firefighting or even coroner duty, and they have to deal with more than their share of badly behaved tourists on top of it.
Getting the lowdown from the rangers at the visitor centers is the very first thing we do. They love to be asked about "their" park, and are full of great ideas for activities that match your specific skill levels. They're also often re-assigned to different parks, and often have but a few short weeks to learn enough about the flora, fauna, geology and history of that location to be able to give those great, free campfire talks and walking tours.
So be nice to them. They're pretty amazing people.
The oft repeated words "big ditch", used facetiously to describe the Grand Canyon, obviously do not do it justice. It is impossible to understand the depth and dimension of the Canyon without actually seeing it with your own eyes. The Grand Canyon is not a bowl shaped indentation in the Earth. It is irregular in shape, the result of thousands of years of patient yet violent carving of its walls and by the Colorado River.
It is approximately 200 road miles from the South Rim to the North Rim. At the considerably narrower bottom, it is a walking distance of about 10 miles. From this vantage point, after hiking about one mile down from the South Rim, the distant walls of the Grand Canyon's plateaus and smaller canyons, appear to stretch endlessly.
Fondest memory: While we sat and took a break, we watched clouds roll in over the trail, low to the ground and quick as anything. Jim shook his head in awe. "You can't see anything like this anywhere else," he half whispered, blue eyes wide, "Its amazing to watch nature."
Located near Mather Point. Outdoor exhibits may be viewed anytime (however the lights at Canyon View Information Plaza are turned off at 9pm). Several outdoor exhibits provide a variety of information about Grand Canyon National Park and what to do once at the park. Available facilities include restrooms, pay phones, bookstore, and shuttle bus stops. The canyon rim is only a short stroll away.
Access is via shuttle bus to Canyon View Information Plaza.
* Five million people visit the Grand Canyon every year.
* The Grand Canyon is 443 kilometers long.
* The width is between 180 meters and 30 kilometers.
* The Grand Canyon is 1.6 kilometers deep.
* The North Rim is closed for visitors from half oktober till april.
* You're not allowed to drive with a car at the West Rim Drive.
* The average temperature beneath the Grand Canyon is about 40 degrees Celsius.
* The North Rim and the South Rim are seperated by 16 kilometers, but by car it's a 345 kilometers drive.
* Along the East Rim you'll find an Anasazi settlement and a watch tower.
* The lenght of the Bright Angel Trail is 16 kilometers.
* Till the end of the 19th century the Grand Canyon didn't draw any attention.
* Spanish explorers visited the Grand Canyon in their search for gold, but left empty-handed.
* The expedition of John Wesley Powell over the Colorado River (1869 - 1872) "put the Grand Canyon on the map" for the general public.
* The layers of rock exposed in the canyon walls record much of the geologic history of North America.
* Over several million years the Colorado River has carved an immense chasm through an arid land-one of the greates geoligical features of its kind.
Grand Canyon National Park is the nation's most popular National Park with 5 million visitors annually. Located entirely in northern Arizona, the park encompasses 277 miles of the Colorado River and adjacent uplands.
One of the most spectacular examples of erosion anywhere in the world, the Grand Canyon is unmatched in the incomparable vistas it offers from the rims. Grand Canyon National Park is a World Heritage Site.
Favorite thing: This aerial view of Grand Canyon gives some impression of the intricate landscape that has developed here. This remote region is very different in appearance from those seen by most visitors. The broad shelf below the rim is an erosional feature known as the Esplanade, formed on the upper surface of one of the resistant members of the Supai Group.
Favorite thing: Be curious as to how enormous this jewel of the American National Parks is. The gorge could be as deep as a mile in some areas & as wide as 18 miles. The scale is so vast that even from the best vantage point only a fraction of the Grand Canyon's 277 miles can be seen!
Learn about Geology & Geography.
GRAND CANYON NATIONAL PARK, located in Northern Arizona, established in 1919, preserves the finest continuous geologic record on earth.
Fondest memory: The trip to the Grand Canyon is a journey rather than a destination; somewhat the same as with life, if you think about it.
2 billion years of history!
Gee, where should I start?
Around that time, I guessed? :-)
Carving Grand Canyon:
* Some of the planet's oldest rock now at the canyon's bottom. Thousands of feet thick, the rock formed from sediments. About 1.7 billion years ago, cataclysmic geological forces crumpled & uplifted the rocks to create a range of mountains that towered about 5 miles high.
* Pressure & heat from the earth then resulted in magma oozing up, forcing itself onto the rock & hardening into veins of pink granite. Over eons, wind & water gnawed the mountain range into a plain & submerged it in sea of water. Remember these all happened in 1.7 billion years ago.
* About 1 billion years ago, the earth shuddered & new range of mountains were formed again. The rains, frost & winds wore away the mountains soon after.
* What we see on the Grand Canyon were accumulated from schist aging 600 million years. During some ages, the region sank beneath advancing seas. Primitive shellfish fossilized in sea bottoms that hardened to shale. Some other time, the restless region rose. Topping the canyon today (8000 ft above sea level) is a 300-foot layer of cream-colored limestone formed from the remains of countless corals, sponges & other marine animals.
Learn a little about the geology behind the formation of this wonder.
What looks timeless here is actually constantly changing. The Grand Canyon encodes 2 billion years (!) of earth's history. This is really beyond my wildest imagination & intelligence. 2 billion years? You must be kidding, right? Well, that's what those guide books say. I'll never understand how the geologists can measure time as long as that! But, it's really incredible just to grasp the meaning of time & space. And, here, yes, at the Grand Canyon, you have a chance to experience it for yourself!
Favorite thing: Certain lodges populate the Grand Canyon Village, and foods of all sizes and styles can be purchased at a number of outlets on the South Rim. In other places there are artist's studios for persons drawn here by the supposed magic and mystery of the Canyon. On its best day, this national park is an interesting flux of color and light, but on gray or blue afternoons, the artists probably spent more productive time in watering their throats at the lodge.
Favorite thing: The Grand Canyon's South Rim is open year round. The North rim is only open from mid-May to mid-Oct. It takes over 5 hours to drive from the South Rim to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. It is over 200miles/322km. There are lodges,resturants and gift shops around the canyon but it is also very desolate so be prepared for emergencies.
Favorite thing: Be sure to take the time to read thru THE GUIDE. You are given a copy when you enter the park. Many folks just throw it on the floor, & drive off. These are the ones who get lost first!