Some rocks at the canyon bottom are estimated to be close to 2000 million years old. The Canyon itself has formed only in the past five or six million years.
The Grand Canyon is more than a great chasm carved over millennia through the rocks of the Colorado Plateau. It is more than an awe-inspiring view. It is more than a pleasuring ground for those that explore the roads, hike the trails, or float the currents of the turbulent Colorado River. The Canyon became a National Park in 1919.
Grand Canyon National Park (South Rim) is located 60 miles north of Williams, Arizona (via route 64 from Interstate 40) and 80 miles northwest of Flagstaff (via route 180). Grand Canyon lies entirely within the state of Arizona.
Between 4 and 5 million visitors come to the Grand Canyon every year - most of them visit the South Rim, which is the more developed one with regard to visitors. A free shuttle bus allows you to travel traffic jam free along the south rim.
The large and modern visitor center in Grand Canyon Village, see also under: South Rim, should be your first stop. Rangers are present an answer your questions. A model of the Grand Canyon gives an insight of the size and shape of the canyon. You also find a free National Park Newspaper, The Guide, here in the visitor center with many information around the park, ranger programs, and events.
Even if you don't plan on walking much, the Rim Trail starting at the visitors center is a short walk and offers spectacular views. If you like hiking, the park offers phantastic routes down to the Colorado River. Horseback riding is also available.
When entering the park from the south (Tusayan/Flagstaff) your first stop behind the entrance is probably Mather Point that offers gorgeous views of the canyon. This overlook is in walking distance to the Canyon View Information Plaza, where you should inform yourself, get maps, brochures, and more.
When entering the park from east over the US 64 your first stop behind the entrance should be Desert View where you find some of the best views of the Colorado River. The Watchtower is an attraction that reflects the early architecture of the Pueblo Indians.
Grand Canyon is 277 miles / 446 km long. It begins at Lees Ferry (mile 0) and ends at the Grand Wash Cliffs (mile 277 / km 446). The Colorado River itself is longer, 1450 miles / 2333 km long from the Rocky Mountains of Colorado to the Gulf of California in Mexico.
At the South Rim, near Grand Canyon Village, it's a vertical mile (about 5,000 feet / 1524 m) from rim to river (7 miles / 11.3 km by trail, if you're walking). At its deepest, it is 6000 vertical feet / 1829 km from rim to river. The width of the canyon at Grand Canyon Village is 10 miles / 16 km (rim to rim), though in places it is as much as 18 miles / 29 km wide.