Grand Canyon National Park: A Breathtaking UNESCO Heritage Site of Natural Wonder
The Grand Canyon is one of the most popular national parks in the United States, but did you know that it is also designated as a Unesco World Heritage Site? Established as a world heritage site in 1979, the Grand Canyon is also considered one of the seven natural wonders of the world. This amazing attraction has been the top tourist destination in Arizona and is visited by over five million people annually from all around the world. For travelers coming from around the world wanting to experience the best of the United States, the Grand Canyon is typically at the top of their bucket list and highlight in visiting a US national park. Check out the highlights below to visiting the Grand Canyon National Park and Unesco Heritage Site.
What makes the Grand Canyon National Park a Unesco Heritage site?
The Grand Canyon National Park is Unesco Heritage site that was certified in 1979 and was made a national park as early as 1919.
The Grand Canyon National Park is designated as a UNESCO World Heritage site for its outstanding natural value and geological significance. It was inscribed as a World Heritage site in 1979. Here are some of the reasons that make it deserving of this prestigious designation:
Geological Importance: The Grand Canyon is an exceptional example of erosion and geological processes that have occurred over millions of years. The exposed layers of rock provide a detailed record of the Earth’s history, showcasing the formation and evolution of the landscape.
Unique Natural Phenomenon: The Grand Canyon is one of the most magnificent and vast canyons in the world. Carved by the Colorado River, the canyon stretches approximately 277 miles (446 kilometers) long, with a width of up to 18 miles (29 kilometers) and a depth of around 1 mile (1.6 kilometers). Its immense size and depth make it a unique and awe-inspiring natural phenomenon.
Ecological Diversity: The Grand Canyon National Park is home to a wide range of plant and animal species, including several rare and endemic species. The diverse range of ecosystems found within the park, from the river corridor to the forested plateaus, supports a rich biodiversity.
Cultural Significance: The area has great cultural importance for various Native American tribes, who have lived in and around the canyon for thousands of years. Their cultural heritage and traditional connections to the land add to the significance of the site.
Scientific Research: The Grand Canyon has been a focal point for geological research and scientific studies for over a century. Its exposed rock layers provide valuable insights into Earth’s geology, climate change, and paleontological history.
Recreational and Educational Value: The Grand Canyon’s stunning vistas and unique geological features attract millions of visitors each year. Its awe-inspiring beauty offers exceptional recreational opportunities and serves as an outdoor classroom for educational purposes.
A visit to the Grand Canyon National Park
” The Grand Canyon fills me with awe, it is beyond comparison – beyond description, absolutely unparalleled throughout the world. Let this great wonder of nature remain as it is now. Do nothing to mar its grandeur, sublimity and loveliness. You cannot improve on it. But what you can do is to keep it for your children, your children’s children, and all who come after you, as the one site that all Americans should see. ” – Theodore Roosevelt
Walking the Rim trail
One of the most popular hiking spots is the Rim trail which is about 13 miles from Hermits rest to the South Kaibab trail head, although the most visited tourist route only covers 1.7 miles one way from Monument Creek Vista to Hermits Rest in the Grand Canyon Village. Passing along the rim trail, you can stop at a variety of overlook areas and popular vista points. Walking along the rim trail offers the perfect opportunity to photograph some of the most stunning views of the canyon while you can stroll easily on the mostly flat paved trail.
Tip – there is also a shuttle bus system through the various points along the trail so you can stop or start anywhere you choose depending on how much time you have to explore the rim trail. The trail is mostly flat, paved and wheel chair accessible.
Start your visit at the South Rim Visitors Center
The Visitors Center in the South Rim of the Grand Canyon National Park serves as a gateway to the awe-inspiring natural wonder. Located near the main entrance, this informative and welcoming facility provides visitors with essential information, exhibits, and resources to enhance their experience. Inside the center, you’ll find helpful park rangers and staff who can offer guidance on hiking trails, viewpoints, and activities. Interactive displays and exhibits showcase the geology, ecology, and cultural history of the Grand Canyon, providing educational opportunities for visitors of all ages.
The Visitors Center also houses a bookstore, gift shop, and a café where you can grab a snack or a refreshing beverage. Whether you’re seeking guidance, learning about the park’s natural wonders, or simply taking in the breathtaking views from the surrounding area, the Visitors Center at the South Rim is a valuable starting point for your Grand Canyon adventure.
There are ongoing talks with rangers and other speakers in the back hall which is fantastic and the video experience is not to be missed when you go to the visitors center.
Tip – make sure to pick up a trail map and have some handy questions to ask at the information desk, since it is very busy and there are long lines.
Posing on the edge of the Rim Trail
Close up details along the Rim Trail
Explore the main trails around the South RIm of the Grand Canyon
The South Rim of the Grand Canyon offers a variety of scenic trails that allow visitors to explore the breathtaking beauty of this natural wonder. Here are some of the main trails you can enjoy:
Bright Angel Trail: This iconic trail is one of the most popular routes in the Grand Canyon. It descends from the South Rim to the Colorado River and offers stunning views along the way. The trail is well-maintained and provides access to restrooms and water stations at various points.
South Kaibab Trail: Another spectacular trail, the South Kaibab Trail offers panoramic vistas and steep drop-offs as it descends into the canyon. It’s a challenging but rewarding hike that provides unique perspectives of the landscape.
Rim Trail: For a leisurely stroll along the rim, the Rim Trail is an excellent choice. This paved pathway stretches for miles, offering magnificent views of the canyon and connecting various viewpoints. It’s perfect for all skill levels and allows you to enjoy the scenery at your own pace.
Hermit Trail: This trail starts near Hermits Rest and provides a more secluded hiking experience. It offers remarkable views and opportunities to explore scenic spots such as Santa Maria Spring and Dripping Springs. Note that this trail is more rugged and suitable for experienced hikers.
Grandview Trail: If you’re looking for a challenging and less crowded trail, the Grandview Trail is a good option. It descends into the canyon and offers breathtaking views of Horseshoe Mesa and the Colorado River.
Explore the Grand Canyon Village
There is a lot to see at Grand Canyon village which is a historic area worth spending some time in. Many of the buildings in the village are considered National Historic Landmarks and is one of the largest planned developments within the National Park system. Popular sites include the Hopi House, Lookout Studio and Bright Angel Lodge, all designed by famous architect Mary E.J. Colter. Other important buildings worth visiting in the village include: El Tovar Hotel, The Red Horse Cabin and the Santa Fe Railway Station.
The Hopi House
The stone Hopi House (below) was created as a reflection of typical adobe Pueblo style buildings used by the local Hopi Indians. Built in 1905 features museum quality Indian fine arts and crafts and the upstairs studio areas have been converted into more gallery spaces for special shows and more art and craft displays.
The Lookout Studio
A gorgeous jagged stone building sitting on the edge of the South Rim, the Lookout studio is one of the historic buildings in the Grand Canyon Historic district. Designed by local architect, Mary Colter in the popular rustic style, the studio is currently being is used as a gift shop and observation area with an outdoor Terrace. Originally constructed by the Santa Fe Railway, the Lookout studio was created to be a photography studio and gallery like the Kolb Studio which is also located on the rim of the canyon.
Tip – make sure you go out to the outdoor patio to get another inspiring view of the canyon to photograph
Views from the Lookout Studio
Trail hike to the bottom of the Grand Canyon
Further down from the Lookout Studio is the trail head for the hike down to the bottom of the Grand Canyon from the South Rim. This hike is fairly strenuous at points and has a series of switchbacks leading down to the canyon. There is two options of trails which you can do as a loop – the first is the South Kaibab trail which is 6.8 miles and the second is the Bright Angel trail at 9.3 miles. This ends up being a very long hike and the Park system does not recommend doing this hike in one day and alone. If you just want to experience a short part of the hike and to see some of the vistas from the trail, that is relatively easy to do and you can decide how long you want to spend going down and of course trekking all the way back up to the rim of the canyon.
Tip – the national park does not recommend doing this in one day, although you can just do as much as you are comfortable hiking down and back up the canyon trail.
It’s a long hike to the bottom of the Canyon and back
El Tovar Hotel Grand Canyon
A stay at the iconic El Tovar will give you a wonderful experience of grand style created in 1905 and considered one of the fanciest hotels in the National Park system then and to current standards. The intimate hotel features 78 guest rooms, a gift shop, fine dining restaurant, bar, newsstand and lounging areas. For an exceptional stay at this landmark hotel, you can check prices and reviews here for the latest updates and information.
Tip – for an elegant meal for lunch or dinner, make a reservation in the main dining room. There is also outdoor patio seating with magnificent views of the canyon available.
Rustic and comfortable stay at El Tovar
Elegant wooden interior and details
The main dining room at El Tovar
Essentials to get you there
If you are planning on visiting the Grand Canyon National Park, you need to book your flights, hotels, rental car in advance, especially during the peak traveling seasons to this area when everything reserves quickly and prices skyrocket. The affiliate sites below help support to maintain this website so any purchases below is kindly appreciated.
Flying into Flagstaff airport
The closest regional airport is located just outside of the park at Flagstaff airport. You can check out the latest vendor flight information and prices below.
Car rental options in the Flagstaff area
Hotel options in the area and around Grand Canyon village, check out these links below
Prices for hotel/inn accommodations fluctuate quickly based on availability and time of year. It is advisable to book way in advance to secure the best prices for your stay at Grand Teton National park or close by in Jackson or Teton Village.
TripAdvisor reviews and details, check here for prices and availability.
Priceline hotel reviews and details, check here for prices and calendar
For more posts on exploring around Arizona, check out my posts below
More inside tips to visiting the Grand Canyon National Park
Plan Ahead: The Grand Canyon is a popular destination, so it’s advisable to plan your visit in advance. Check the park’s website for important information regarding entrance fees, park hours, and trail conditions. Consider making campground or lodging reservations well ahead of time, especially during peak seasons.
Start Early: To avoid crowds and make the most of your day, start your activities early in the morning. The popular viewpoints and trails can get crowded later in the day, so beginning early allows you to enjoy the park with fewer people and capture stunning photos in the soft morning light.
Stay Hydrated: Hydration is crucial when exploring the Grand Canyon, especially during hot weather or strenuous hikes. Carry plenty of water and refill your bottle at designated water stations throughout the park. It’s recommended to drink water even before you feel thirsty.
Dress Appropriately: The weather at the Grand Canyon can vary significantly, so dress in layers to accommodate temperature changes. Wear sturdy, comfortable shoes suitable for walking on uneven terrain. Additionally, don’t forget to bring a hat, sunscreen, and sunglasses to protect yourself from the sun.
Take Advantage of Shuttle Services: The park offers free shuttle bus services that transport visitors along the South Rim, making it convenient to access various viewpoints and trailheads. Utilize these shuttle services to minimize the hassle of finding parking and navigating the park.
Capture the Sunset: Witnessing the sunset at the Grand Canyon is a breathtaking experience. Plan your day to be at one of the popular viewpoints, such as Yaki Point or Hopi Point, in time for sunset. Be prepared to arrive early, as these spots tend to fill up quickly.
Respect Wildlife and Safety: The Grand Canyon is home to diverse wildlife, including elk, squirrels, and condors. Admire wildlife from a safe distance and do not feed or approach them. Additionally, always stay on designated trails, follow signage and instructions, and be cautious near the canyon’s edge.
By following these inside tips, you can make the most of your visit to the Grand Canyon National Park, ensuring a memorable and enjoyable experience in this natural wonder.
Stormy skies around the basin floor of the Grand Canyon
Conclusion to visiting the Grand Canyon National Park and Unesco Heritage Site
A visit to Grand Canyon National Park is an unforgettable experience that leaves a lasting impression. The awe-inspiring beauty of the canyon, with its vastness, intricate layers, and vibrant colors, is a testament to the power of nature. From the breathtaking viewpoints along the rim to the exhilarating hikes into the depths of the canyon, every moment spent in the park is filled with wonder and amazement and worth the Unesco certification.
Thanks for visiting today and checking out this post on the Grand Canyon National Park and Unesco Heritage Site, hopefully you will be able to see and experience this amazing national park and explore the amazing landmarks and scenic points around the park. If you enjoyed the images and post, could you please share it with any of the social media buttons located around the post.
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