Grand Canyon

At 6,000 feet deep and 277 miles long, the Grand Canyon has some big shoes to fill for its 100th birthday.

At a mile deep and up to 18 miles wide, it is a spectacle that has captivated explorers and visitors like no other.  

Arizona’s pride and joy, the Grand Canyon, celebrates its 100th birthday as a national park this year and there is no doubt, it is one of the world’s premier natural wonders. Seriously, who knew that erosion could reveal such beautiful life? Carved out by 277 miles of Colorado River, the Grand Canyon exposes nearly 2 billion years of geological history. It’s no wonder it attracts about 6 million visitors every year, making it the second most-visited National Park in the U.S.

 However, it is more than just standing and looking over the railing, snapping a few pictures and telling everyone, yes, I saw it. The Grand Canyon is an experience. While there is no right or wrong way to do it, you certainly have options – whether you like to hike, bike, take a mule ride or even a train to get to it. Bottom line, it’s more than just a postcard from the edge.  

In addition to marveling at the Grand Canyon’s splendor, there are some historic sites worth seeing during your visit to the canyon. In the 1900s, photos of the canyon were very rare. Then, along came the Kolb brothers whose simple black and white photos changed the way the world looked at the Grand Canyon and at Arizona.  

These brothers were daring and lived on the edge, much like the home where they lived and worked; the home that still stands near the south rim. It is now a historic site, but the story behind the walls is full of excitement and adventure.  

Another architectural wonder on the south rim is the Hopi house. It was designed by famed architect Mary Colter to closely resemble a traditional Hopi Pueblo. The structure is made of sandstone, the interior walls are plastered with adobe and the ceilings are made of saplings and grass covered with mud. When it opened in 1905, Native American artists worked on sight and sold their creations.  

This year, to commemorate the Grand Canyon’s Centennial Celebration, there are events going on now throughout the summer. In fact, the week of June 22 – 29 will see both the Centennial Summerfest as well as the Grand Canyon Centennial Star Party. Summerfest is all about food and native culture whereas the Star Party brings amateur astronomers and their telescopes from across Arizona to share their knowledge of the planets and the stars.

There will be naturalization ceremonies going on all year long at the canyon. What can be more American than taking your oath of citizenship standing on this iconic symbol of the United States? 

The Grand Canyon may be on your bucket list but once you visit, you will feel drawn to come back again. Perhaps, you can find the words to describe your experience or to accept the fact that there are no words that can truly do the canyon justice. 

— Robin Sewell is the host and executive producer of the Emmy Award winning Arizona Highways Television.