Grand Canyon

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GRAND CANYON, a gorge of the Colorado River, from four to eighteen miles wide and in places more than

a mile deep, winding some 280 miles from Marble Canyon, near the Arizona-Utah line, to Grand Wash Cliffs in northern Mohave County of Arizona.

The first written description of the canyon is Pedro de Castañeda's account of a small group of Spanish explorers who found it after hearing stories of a large canyon during a visit to the Hopis in 1540. The canyon was little known until Lt. Joseph C. Ives and Dr. J. S. Newberry visited its lower end in April 1858 and brought back the first geological description of the region. Maj. John Wesley Powell made the first journey down the Colorado River through the canyon with nine men, 24 May30 August 1869. Congress created Grand Canyon National Park, 673,575 acres, on 26 February 1919, and two years later the completion of a railroad from Williams, Arizona, facilitated tourist travel to the canyon. In 1932, an additional 198,280 acres encompassing Toroweap Point of the canyon was set aside as the Grand Canyon National Monument. In 1966, the Sierra Club successfully spearheaded a drive to prevent the erection of a dam at the lower end of the canyon.


Morehouse, Barbara J. A Place Called Grand Canyon: Contested Geographies. Tucson: University of Arizona Press, 1996.

Pyne, Stephen J. How the Canyon Became Grand: A Short History. New York: Viking, 1998.

Rufus Kay Wyllys / c. w.

See also Colorado River Explorations ; Explorations and Expeditions: Spanish ; National Park System ; Tourism .

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Grand Canyon, great gorge of the Colorado River, one of the natural wonders of the world; c.1 mi (1.6 km) deep, from 4 to 18 mi (6.4–29 km) wide, and 217 mi (349 km) long, NW Ariz. The canyon shows in its rocks the repeated geological sequence of uplift, erosion (due to the river's constant wearing force), submergence, and deposition of materials. The multicolored rocks, the steep and embayed rims, and the isolated towers, mesas, "temples," and other eroded rock forms catch the contrast of sun and shadow and glow with changing hues of great beauty. Plant life on the canyon walls varies from subtropical at the base to subarctic near the rims. Hundreds of ancient pueblos dot the lower canyon walls and the rim. The Havasupai people still occupy a part of the canyon, and the Hualapai reservation encompasses much of the south rim. (The Hualapai now operate a visitors center, including a skywalk projecting over the canyon rim.) The first European to see the canyon was the Spanish explorer García López de Cárdenas in 1540. In 1869 the U.S. explorer John Wesley Powell became the first person to lead a party through the canyon bottom in a boat.

The Grand Canyon was set aside by the U.S. government in 1908 as a national monument. In 1919 an expanded area was designated Grand Canyon National Park (1,217,403 acres/492,876 hectares). The park was enlarged in 1975 to include other areas, such as Marble Canyon and parts of Glen Canyon and Lake Mead. Along the forested northern rim and the more accessible southern rim are numerous lookouts, and trails wind to the canyon floor. Raft and boat excursions along the canyon's river bottom are popular. In 2000 the lands north of the western portion of the canyon, an area almost the size of the park, were designated Grand Canyon–Parashant National Monument (1,014,000 acres/410,670 hectares). See National Parks and Monuments (table).

See S. Whitney, A Field Guide to the Grand Canyon (1987); J. W. Krutch, Grand Canyon (1989); S. J. Pyne, How the Canyon Became Grand (1998).

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Grand Canyon ★★★ 1991 (R)

Diverse group of characters is thrown together through chance encounters while coping with urban chaos in L.A. The main focus is the growing friendship between an immigration lawyer (Kline) and a tow-truck driver (Glover) who meet when Kline's car breaks down in a crime-ridden neighborhood. First-rate performances by the cast make up for numerous moral messages thrown at viewers with the subtlety of a brick. Sometimes funny, sometimes preachy became more relevant in light of the violence that exploded in L.A. during the summer of ‘92. 134m/C VHS, DVD . Randle Mell, Sarah Trigger, K. Todd Freeman, Jack Kehler, Marley Shelton, Danny Glover, Kevin Kline, Steve Martin, Mary McDonnell, Mary-Louise Parker, Alfre Woodard, Jeremy Sisto, Tina Lifford, Patrick Malone, Mary Ellen Trainor; D: Lawrence Kasdan; W: Lawrence Kasdan, Meg Kasdan; C: Owen Roizman; M: James Newton Howard.

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Grand Canyon Deep gorge in nw Arizona, USA, carved by the Colorado River. It is 450km (280mi) long, and varies from 6km (4mi) to 18km (11mi) in width. With its magnificent multicoloured rock formations revealing hundreds of millions of years of geological history, the Grand Canyon is one of the great wonders of the natural world.