The Grand Canyon is a steep-sided gorge carved by the Colorado River in the United States state of Arizona. It is largely contained within the Grand Canyon National Park — one of the first national parks in the United States. President Theodore Roosevelt was a major proponent of preservation of the Grand Canyon area, and visited on numerous occasions to hunt and enjoy the scenery.
View from the South Rim.
A map of the Grand Canyon and surrounding areas, circa 1908.
Longstanding scientific consensus has been that the canyon was created by the Colorado River over a six million year period. The canyon is 277 miles (446 km) long, ranges in width from 4 to 18 miles (6.4 to 29 km) and attains a depth of over a mile (1.83 km)(6000 feet). Nearly two billion years of the Earth's history have been exposed as the Colorado River and its tributaries cut their channels through layer after layer of rock while the Colorado Plateau was uplifted. The "canyon started from the west, then another formed from the east, and the two broke through and met as a single majestic rent in the earth some six million years ago. [...] The merger apparently occurred where the river today, coming from the north, bends to the west, in the area known as the Kaibab Arch."
Prior to European emigration, the area was inhabited by Native Americans who built settlements within the canyon and its many caves. The Pueblo people considered the Grand Canyon ("Ongtupqa" in Hopi language) a holy site and made pilgrimages to it. The first European known to have viewed the Grand Canyon was García López de Cárdenas from Spain, who arrived in 1540. In 1869, Major John Wesley Powell, a one-armed Civil War veteran made the first recorded journey through the canyon on the Colorado River. Powell referred to the sedimentary rock units exposed in the canyon as "leaves in a great story book"