The highest points at the Grand Canyon are found at Point Imperial on the North Rim, which is 8,803 feet high, and Navajo Point on the South Rim, which is 7,498 feet high. Compare this to the elevation of the lowest point at Phantom Ranch on the bottom of the canyon floor—which is 2,400 feet high.
To form Grand Canyon, the Colorado River cut through one mile (1.6km) of rock layers. The canyon's upper
rocks formed from sediment deposited in ancient seas, swamps and deserts. The lowest (and oldest) rocks formed from deep within the earth's interior. In some areas relatively recent volcanos have played a part too.
The Grand Canyon is the largest known rift in the world. The Grand Canyon is a steep-sided gorge that were made by the Colorado River in north Arizona, USA. It is because of heavy mineral deposits that one can see the canyon as bright red, brown and orange in color.
A powerful and inspiring landscape, Grand Canyon overwhelms our senses through its immense size. Unique combinations of geologic color and erosional forms decorate a canyon that is 277 river miles (446km) long, up to 18 miles (29km) wide, and a mile (1.6km) deep.
Layers of rock in the Grand Canyon tell much about the Colorado Plateau's formative years: a mountain range built with two-billion-year-old rock and then eroded away; sediments deposited from an ancient sea; more mountains; more erosion; another sea; a burst of volcanic activity; and the birth of a river that has since carved the chasm by washing the layers away.
Mammal species vary greatly by ecosystem. At the river level, many small animals, including several species of bat and rodent, are common. In the forested areas, small animals such as red squirrels and porcupines share the area with mule deer, elk, black bears, mountain lions, and coyotes.
The Spanish "discovered" the Grand Canyon in 1540 while searching for native riches. Francisco Vázquez de Coronado was looking for the mythological Seven Cities of Gold when his expedition encountered the Grand Canyon. They explored the canyon only briefly due to lack of water.
The floor of the Grand Canyon contains fossil footprints of over 20 species of reptiles and amphibians, yet no fossilised reptile bones or teeth have ever been uncovered.
The very age of the canyon is nearly incomprehensible. At about two billion years old - half of Earth's total life span - the exposed layer of Vishnu schist at the bottom of the canyon is some of the oldest exposed rock on the planet.
As the river approaches sea level, downward erosion will cease altogether, even as the canyon continues to widen. This lateral (sideways) erosion proceeds 10 times faster than downward cutting. Thus, far in the future, the Grand Canyon may be referred to as the Grand Valley.