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One of our non work related stops on the 2008 TITAN road trip was at the famous Grand Canyon National Park in the state of Arizona. Most people know of the Grand Canyon due to it’s picturesque scenery and remarkable landscapes. Therefore it has become a popular tourist destination in the western United States with a range of activities such as camping and hiking for many years and one of the must see places in the USA.
A place like this is really hard to put into words because it is one of those rare places that you really need to visit yourself in order to really appreciate it.
The canyon itself is the result of a massive rift that exposes both Proterozoic and Paleozoic strata. It has a steep sided gorge that was carved out by the Colorado River
over a six million year span, it is about 446 km long with variable widths ranging from 6 to 29 km and depths reaching over 6000 feet.
The Grand Canyon National Park is unlike any others in the world, although it is not the deepest canyon in the world it highly recognized for its overwhelming size and colorful landscape.
Geologically it is significant (especially to people like myself with a Geology education) because of the thick sequence of ancient rocks that are beautifully preserved and exposed in the walls of the canyon. These rock layers record much of the early geologic history of the North American continent.
The part of the Park that we visited is called the Desert View Drive located along the east entrance to the park. Located here are a few buildings including a restaurant, book store, gift shop and the Desert View Watchtower.
It was constructed in 1932 as a replica of a prehistoric Indian tower and offers a magnificent view of the Grand Canyon from the observation deck located on top of it. As you enter the structure you walk into the gift store (largest room of the building) where they offer a wide range of souvenirs. Directly above the gift shop on the roof of this part of the structure is an outdoor observation deck.
As you continue upwards in the seventy-foot tower on the spiral stairs, you notice the walls on the inside of the tower feature many murals painted on the walls with several tiny windows letting in a minimal amount of light which helps provide a cave like, mystical atmosphere.
The unfortuante part was that I only had an few hours to visit so could not go on any of the many recomended hikes or other typical tourist like activities (like the Glass Sky Walk that extends out over the canyon). I hope some day to return maybe with my kids so they to can come appreciate this historic landmark.