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Natural Wonders of the World: Grand Canyon, USA

16 December 2020 08:20

See the canyon formed over millions of years

See the canyon formed over millions of years

Travel may be trickier than normal right now. But we can still dream, can't we? Arizona and the world's most famous canyon are a must-see for thrill-seekers and fans of unforgettable landscapes.

Grand Canyon at a glance:

  • The Grand Canyon is one mile deep, 277 miles long and up to 18 miles wide
  • The rock squirrel is considered the most dangerous animal in the National Park, known to attack thousands of tourists every year
  • The most remote town in continental USA can be found inside the canyon - Supai Village has a population of 208.
  • Fewer people have completed a continuous, length-wise hike through the Grand Canyon than have walked on the moon.

What makes the Grand Canyon a natural wonder?

Although the Grand Canyon isn't the deepest canyon in the world (the Yarlung Zangbo valley in Tibet takes that accolade), it impressed judges at Seven Natural Wonders for its combination of size and its beautifully coloured landscape. Found in the National Park of the same name, it's home to the unique pink rattlesnake and endangered species such as the California Condor. The oldest fossils in the region are believed to be aged between 740 million and 1,200 million years old.

The Grand Canyon in film and TV

Arizona's famous gorge has made countless appearances across popular culture. However, arguably its most well-known cameos can be attributed to other, similar landscapes. The climactic scene in Thelma and Louise where (spoiler alert) the pair of fugitives drive off the road into the canyon was actually filmed in Utah. And despite the common misconception, actor Will Smith celebrated his 50th birthday by bungee jumping from a helicopter over the Little Colorado River Gorge, rather than this Natural Wonder itself.

How can tourists enjoy the Grand Canyon?

One of the most popular ways to see the canyon is from the Skywalk viewing platform. The glass-bottomed, horseshoe shaped bridge extends 70ft over the edge and 4,000 feet above the canyon floor. If you prefer to keep your feet and tyres on the ground, mountain biking and hiking trails can be found around the north and south rim. Alternatively, white water rafting trips are an exhilarating way of soaking up the surroundings.

What else is there to see and do in Arizona?

Fans of the great outdoors are truly spoilt in the Grand Canyon state. The Antelope Canyon is a short two-hour drive away and has to be seen to be believed - its narrow and winding form has made the perfect backdrop for thousands of Instagram posts. And if you thought the state was one big arid blip on the map, the Hoover Dam should help to dispel that illusion. The engineering marvel sits 700 feet high and 1,200 metres long at the edge of the 110-mile Lake Mead.

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