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The Grand Canyon is a large river canyon in Arizona. It is over 220 miles
long and over a mile deep in some places. Its widest point is 18 miles wide.
The canyon is considered one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World.
Over millions of years, the Colorado River wore away rocks as it passed
through the area. Slowly, the river made the path deeper and deeper. Now,
the canyon is surrounded by steep walls on either side, while the river
continues to fl ow at the bottom of the canyon.
Besides its large size, the Grand Canyon is also known for its
magnifi cent colors. The canyon is made of layers of rock, and each layer of
rock has a different depth and color. Geologist have identifi ed almost 40
different layers of rock exposed by the river’s erosion.
The climate in canyon area is primarily desert, with both
high and low temperatures. The upper rims of the canyon
often receive snowfall. The air quality is usually very high,
although dust storms and smoke from fi res can change the air.
The Grand Canyon is home to variety of plants and
animals. Plants range from various species of cactus to pine
forests. Many types of animals live in the area, including the
bald eagle, bobcats, bats and gila monsters. Six different kinds
of rattlesnakes have been identifi ed in the area.
Native Americans have inhabited the area for around
3,000 years. Spanish conquistadors fi rst explored the area in
1540. Later, Spanish priests and explorers returned in 1776. However, they did not stay, as they
found the canyon impassable.
Arizona became part of the United States in 1848, and the fi rst geological studies were
completed on the Grand Canyon in 1856. Today, the canyon is part of the Grand Canyon National
Park. About fi ve million tourists visit the park each year.