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Posts tagged ‘Grand Canyon’

1-day drive in the US Southwest: Cliff Dwellers to the South Rim

October 2018.

The following takes place entirely on day 10 (of 15) in our drive through the American Southwest. Day 9 was a long one on the road: from Flagstaff, we drove north on US-89 and US-89A next to Echo Cliffs and Vermilion Cliffs, and ending up at North Rim for our first-ever visit to the Grand Canyon. After overnighting at Cliff Dwellers Lodge, day 10 began with a stop at the Rock Houses nearby, then retracing the previous day’s drive back to Cameron, before turning west to spend the rest of the day at the Desert View section of the Grand Canyon’s South Rim. That began our first-time visit to the South Rim, spanning two days (days 10 and 11).


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Grand Canyon National Park: The North & South Rim

Above/featured: West-northwest from Mohave Point – 15 October 2018 (HL).

The Grand Canyon National Park has very different timescales: over 100 years of human inscription as a national park, but over 1 billion years of geologic history.

European colonizers and settlers recognized protection was required for the big dramatic landscape. On 26 February 1919, U.S. Congress passed legislation “An Act to Establish the Grand Canyon National Park in the State of Arizona” which was signed by President Woodrow Wilson. With official designation, the national park encompassed over 1-million acres (almost 405-thousand hectares) and several thousand years of history of habitation in the area by indigenous peoples, including the Havasupai, Hualapai, Hopi, Navajo, Paiute, and the Zuni, who consider the Grand Canyon as their ancestral birthplace. UNESCO inscribed the Grand Canyon National Park as World Heritage Site in 1979.

The geology at the Grand Canyon, however, is far older than 100 years. By geologic standards, the Grand Canyon itself is relatively “young” with the Colorado River carving into the rock about 5 to 6 million years ago. However, the Vishnu basement rock in the Grand Canyon is over 1.7 billion years old; “only” 38 percent as old as Earth’s oldest rocks at 4.5 billion years old.

We spent three days in October 2018 exploring parts of the Grand Canyon National Park. After our drive from Flagstaff to Vermilion Cliffs, we pushed forward to the North Rim and the winding scenic drive took us to Point Imperial and Cape Royal in time for the day’s final illumination. With a night spent at the beautifully serene Cliff Dwellers Lodge, we retraced our drive back to Cameron, then turning west to Desert View and parts of the eastern end of the South Rim. With our new ‘base’ established in Flagstaff, we drove the following day to the main entrance of the Grand Canyon National Park (via Valle and Tusayan), and we spent the day in the western and central parts of the South Rim. The 1126 km (700 mi)# we covered over the three days was 22 percent of the entire 5049 km (3138 mi) we accumulated through parts of New Mexico and Arizona.


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Alhambra, Sierra Nevada, Granada, Andalucia, Spain, fotoeins.com

UNESCO World Heritage Sites, Around the World

Since 1995, I’ve been fortunate to experience significant travel: first as green graduate student on my first (of many) trips to Chile; followed by the opportunity to live and work in 3 countries on 3 continents inside a span of 10 years. I didn’t give much thought about their relative importance at the time, but I’m lucky to have visited a number of UNESCO World Heritage Sites (WHS).

UNESCO World Heritage logo, Wikimedia CC3 license

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