The Grand Canyon is one of the deepest canyons in the world and one of the most unusual geological sites on our planet. Included among the Seven Natural Wonders of the World, the Grand Canyon was declared a national park in 1919 and is one of the most famous landmarks in the United States.
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Video: Grand Canyon
No description can truly prepare one for the scale and grandeur of this vast gorge, going as far away as the eye can see with a grand complex of canyons, waterfalls, caves, towers, escarpments and ravines. The Grand Canyon always seems to look new, and the sunlight and shadows from the passing clouds make the cliffs constantly change shades of color in an exquisite range from black and purple-brown to pale pink and bluish gray. Findings in the caves suggest that the first inhabitants appeared in Grand Canyon around 2000 B.C. Less than 10 million years ago, the Colorado River looped across a vast plain. Then movements of the earth’s crust forced the area to rise, and the river began to cut into the rock. The soft limest limestones, 2 million years old, were the first to erode, and then it was the older shales and sandstones, deep in the strata. The most ancient layer was formed by 2-billion-year-old granites and crystalline schists forming the canyon floor. The main canyon stretches for 365 km in length and reaches about 29 km in its widest part. Its depth in some places reaches up to 1.6 km. There is not a single bridge across the gorge, and wishing to cross from the North Rome-Hedvoters to Grand Canyon located on the south bank, and the distance between them in a straight line, through the canyon, does not exceed 19 km, will have to overcome more than 322 km.
The Horseshoe, a famous curve of the Colorado River in Grand Canyon North of the Grand Canyon A riot of color
Here you can enjoy an incredible palette of colors, looking at the scarlet, gold and orange cliffs, purple chasms, and crystal clear waters, making it one of the most beautiful places on Earth. After seeing the sun set in the Grand Canyon, the poet Carl Sandberg exclaimed: “Here comes the Lord with an army of standard-bearers!”
The south end of the Grand Canyon is the most popular spot, as it is easily accessible from the highway that runs parallel to the edge of the canyon. There are several observation decks and hiking trails.
The northern edge, where the height of the canyon walls becomes much more noticeable, is visited by tourists much less often, because it is not so easy to get here. You can still get to the Tuwip area on a few dirt roads and enjoy stunning views, but in general the area is inaccessible to cars.
Besides the Grand Canyon, there are many side canyons and gorges, but most require time or a difficult rafting trip down the Colorado River to explore.
After a single trip here, you begin to understand why this place is so popular and why it is considered a unique natural wonder.
Ancient Navajo lore tells of a brave hero named Packit-haawi. He put an end to the Great Flood by taking a weighty stick and splitting the solid earth so that all the water could escape into the resulting crack. Geologists say the gorge was formed over 40 to 50 million years as the waters of the Colorado River steadily deepened its course.
On March 20, 2007 there was an opening of a unique structure – the Over-the-Wall Bridge (Grand Canyon SkyWalk), the world’s first glass bridge soaring over the beauty of the Grand Canyon at a height of 1200 meters. Horseshoe-shaped bridge, whose extreme point is located 20 meters from the edge of the abyss! No cables or brackets limit the all-around view. The transparent floor of the bridge makes you feel like an eagle soaring over the red-hot prairie. This observation deck is twice the height of the Ostankino Tower, 2.5 times the height of the Taipei 101 Tower in Taiwan and more than 3 times the height of the Empire State Building in New York City! The entrance fee is $25 in addition to the cost of entering the West Grand Canyon.
Rafting on the Colorado River
The park itself is arranged very simply (American-style comfortable and convenient) . Along the edge of the canyon is a road. Periodically (every 4 to 10 miles) there are landscaped viewing areas, observation decks, marked parking lots, and invariable handicapped parking spaces near each. At these sites, there is usually a fence to prevent someone from falling and filing a lawsuit that would bankrupt the entire U.S. national park system. Some sites are located on cliffs that protrude somewhat into the canyon, allowing you to enjoy a 270-degree view. Selected viewpoints at Desert View and Canyon Village have gift stores where you can buy real and quality made (in China, usually) calendars, DVDs, maps, and other souvenir trinkets. The staff is friendly, be sure to suggest a place for the best sunset photos.
If possible, it is best not to come to Grand Canyon during the influx of visitors, which falls between May and September. There are campgrounds and hotels near the North Rim, but this is the place for regulars. Newcomers should stay near the South Rim.
Make a reservation beforehand if you’re going camping; Grand Canyon Village also offers lodging. Local kiosks offer information about hiking and muleback riding trails down the canyon, or about rafting on the Colorado River. Hiking or mule riding takes courage. River rafting offers the opportunity to see the canyon under the supervision of experienced guides.
Hoover Dam Lookout Tower
The Grand Canyon Village Information Center will help at first. Along Rim Drive, small information kiosks offer tourists traveling by bus or bicycle curious information about the local geology, vegetation, animals, and people who lived in the area. Particularly appealing is information about the Indians, whose dwellings in the canyon cliffs can still be seen from the North Rim.
There are wonderful hiking trails up along the edge of the canyon through thickets of juniper and edible pine. Now and then you find yourself in a clearing at the edge of the canyon, where you can see huge mounds or hills rising like Egyptian pyramids or Aztec temples and bearing names such as the Zoroastrian temple or the Cheops pyramid. There are also rock formations with sonorous names: Cape Skeleton and Ghost Manor.
Regular buses travel along the 13-kilometer Western Edge, closed to private vehicles from May through September, stopping at places that offer wonderful views of the canyon: Hopi Point, Mojave Point, and Pima Point. There are often other buses that can take travelers as well.
Bright Angel Trail.
The hike should be undertaken by a physically well-prepared person; despite the short distances, the terrain here is rugged and the heat is high. Wear hiking shoes, protective clothing, a wide-brimmed sun hat, apply sunscreen, and bring drinking water.
The easiest trail is the Bright Angel Trail, starting at Bright Angel Lodge . Depart at dawn with the expectation that the descent should take about three hours and the climb about six to seven hours. The trail meanders for 2.5km to the first rest spot, which has an emergency phone, and 2.5km to the second rest spot, the so-called Jacobs Ladder in the Bible, and almost straight on to the lovely Indian Garden at Garden Creek. You can camp here at the caretaker’s gatehouse for the night, provided you’ve made a reservation, which you should do at least six months in advance.
Hikers can continue along Garden Creek the next day, bypassing Devil’s Corkscrew down Pipe Creek to the Riverside Recreation Area near the Colorado River. Hikers can stay at Ghost Manor’s barracks-type accommodations if pre-booked. The steeper Kaibab Trail, which runs from Yaqui Point Road east of Grand Canyon Village, is a more challenging route.
The trails offer privacy from the hustle and bustle of Rim Drive, though you can still backtrack a hundred yards to enjoy the beauty of the natural wonder in silence.
The most developed area in the park is Grand Canyon Village, which is located 9.6 km north of the South Rim Entrance Station. The only entrance to the North Rim is 48 km south of Jacob Lake on highway 67. The drive from the North Edge to the South Edge is 344 km if driving, 33.6 km if walking through the canyon, or 16 km for a flying condor.
The park entrance fee (vehicles/bicyclists and hikers $25/12) is valid for seven days and can be used at either edge.
Overnight hiking and camping in remote areas of the park requires a permit. The Backcountry Information Center (Tel: 928-638-7875; fax 928-638-7875; www.nps.gov/grca; Grand Canyon Village ; 8 a.m.-12 p.m. and 1-5 p.m., phone service 1-5 p.m. Mon-Fri) accepts permit applications for hikers ($10, plus $5 per person per night) for this month and next four months only. You have a decent chance if you apply early (four months in advance, spring and fall) and suggest alternate hiking routes. The application is accepted in person, by e-mail or fax. For more information, visit www.nps.gov/grca/planyourvisit/backcountry.htm. If you come without permission, go to the office, near Maswik Lodge, and put your name on the waiting list.
You can get information not only at the tourist centers listed below, but also in the park itself at Yavapai Observation Station, Verkamp’s Visitor Center, Hotel El Tovar, Tusayan Ruins & Museum, and Desert View Information Center . Grand Canyon Visitor Center (Grand Canyon Visitor Center; Tel: 928-638-7644; 8 a.m.-5 p.m.) The Grand Canyon Visitor Center and Books & More are on the plaza three hundred yards beyond Mather Point. An information board on the plaza displays messages about forestry programs, weather, tours and walking tours. The interior of the center is bright and spacious, with forestry staff on duty at the information booth; in the lecture hall, attendants give daily lectures.
National Geographic Visitor Center; Tel: 928-638-2468; www.explorethecanyon.com; highway 64, Tusayan ; adult/child $13/10; 8 a.m.-22 p.m.) located in Tusayan, 11.2 km south of Grand Canyon Village; pay $25 for a vehicle entrance and save time in a potentially long wait at the park gate, especially in summer. The IMAX theater is showing the stunning 34-minute film Grand Canyon – The Hidden Secrets .
North Rim Visitor Center; Tel: 928-638-7864; www.nps.gov/grca; 8 a.m.-6 p.m., closed mid-October to mid-May) Located next to the Grand Canyon Lodge; maps, books, road trails and weather information.
How to get there and get around
Most tourists come to the canyon in private cars or on a guided tour. Finding a parking spot at Grand Canyon Village can be difficult. Under the new Park-n-Ride program, summer visitors can buy a park pass at the National Geographic Visitor Center, park in a designated area and then take a free bus to the Grand Canyon Visitor Center on the Tusayan Route (8 a.m.-9:30 p.m., mid-May to early September). A park pass is also an option. The trip takes 20 minutes, with the first bus leaving for Tusayan at 8:00 am. The last bus out of the park leaves at 9:30 p.m.
Free buses go around the park on three routes: around Grand Canyon Village, west on the Hermits Rest Route, and east on the Kaibab Trail Route. Buses usually run at least twice an hour, starting an hour before sunset and ending an hour after.
During the summer months there is a free Hiker’s Express bus (at 4:00,5:00,6:00 June-August, 5:00,6:00,7:00 May and September) . It departs from Bright Angel Lodge, picks up hikers at the Backcountry Information Center and Grand Canyon Visitor Center, and proceeds to the start of the South Kaibab Trail.
The Transcanyon Shuttle (Tel: 928-638-2820; www.trans-canyonshuttle.com; one-way/ round trip ticket $80/150; 7 a.m. mid-May to mid-October) leaves daily from the Grand Canyon Lodge to the South End (5 hours) , which is suitable for tourists traveling from one side of the canyon to the other. Reserve your spot at least one or two weeks in advance. A free tour bus to the North Kaibab Trail leaves at 5:45 and 7:10 a.m. from Grand Canyon Lodge. You need to sign up at the front desk; if no one checks in the night before you leave, the bus will not leave on the road.
Bright Angel Bicycles bike rentals (Tel: 928-814-8704; www.bikegrandcanyon.com; full day adult/child $35/25; 8 a.m.-6 p.m. May-September, 10 a.m.-4:30 p.m. March-April and October-November, weather permitting) Comfort Cruiser bike rentals: friendly staff will match you with any bike to order. The price also includes helmet and bike lock rental.
Traces of the Earth’s four geological eras can be found here, a variety of rocks and caves containing a wealth of geological, biological and archaeological material. The Grand Canyon is considered one of the best examples of soil erosion. The Colorado River originally flowed on a plain, but crustal movement about 65 million years ago caused the Colorado Plateau to rise. As a result, the angle of the river’s flow and consequent increase in flow velocity and ability to erode the rock that lies in its path. The river first eroded the upper limestones, and then took on the deeper, older sandstones and shales. And so the Grand Canyon was formed. It was about 5-6 million years ago. The canyon is still growing because of continued erosion.
The Grand Canyon on a bicycle Lizard in a hole in the cliff
Nowadays, the most ancient rocks have already appeared at the bottom of the canyon – granite, which is breaking down much more slowly. The Colorado River rushes down the gorge at 20 kilometers per hour, carrying along the bottom of the huge boulders and pebbles and carrying so much sand and clay that the river becomes totally opaque and takes on a red-brown hue. In a 24-hour period, the Colorado carries about half a million tons of rock into the sea. The rocks and sand carried away by the river increase the destructive effect produced by the Colorado, and even the hardest granites of the canyon bed are rubbed down by a quarter of a millimeter every year with this “sandpaper.
The huge space of the gorge does not look like just a long narrow hole in the ground. It is filled with random clusters of cliffs that have the most bizarre shapes. Landslides, water and wind erosion have created the outlines of giant pagodas, pyramids, towers, and fortress walls in the canyon walls, presenting a uniquely beautiful and majestic spectacle. Many of them have their own names: the Temple of Vishnu, the Temple of Shiva, the Throne of Wotan, etc. The entire variegated stone labyrinth, as well as the giant canyon walls, is riddled with alternating yellow, pink, red, brown, and brown layers of sedimentary rocks that make up the plateau. These are some of the world’s most complete geological outcrops, representing 1.5 billion years of Earth’s history.
The floor of the Grand Canyon is now at least 1,000 meters below the level to which it was once uplifted by tectonic activity. The process of erosion continues. Someday, in the very distant future, the Grand Canyon will cease to exist altogether.
Climate and Nature
The climate on the plateau and at the bottom of the canyon is sharply different – when above about 15 ° C warm, at the bottom of the gorge, among the heated rocks the temperature can rise to +40 ° C.
Snow in the Grand Canyon
Interesting is the living nature of the canyon. At the bottom of the canyon is a typical Southwestern U.S. desert landscape with a variety of cacti, agaves, and yuccas. As you ascend, you begin to encounter thuas, oaks, aspens, and willows, with an even higher area of pines and junipers. The rich fauna includes about 100 species of birds and 60 species of mammals, including several extremely rare species.
June is the driest month of the year, July and August are the wettest. In January, the average night temperature drops to -11°C -7°C, and the daytime temperature reaches about 4°C. In summer, temperatures in the canyon regularly rise above 38°C. The south end of the Grand Canyon is accessible to tourists year-round. Most visitors come between late May and early September. The northern rim is open from mid-May to mid-October.
The Grand Canyon at sunset.
History of Exploration
In 1540, a detachment of Spanish soldiers prowling in search of the legendary Seven Golden Cities of Cybola came to the edge of the canyon. Stunned by the sight before them, the Spaniards fell to their knees and began to pray. For three days they searched for a path to get down into the gorge, but they never found it. They ran out of food and water and returned to Mexico with nothing.
In 1858 Joseph Eaves sailed up the Colorado River from the Gulf of California in the ship Explorer. He wanted to determine the length of the navigable portion of the river, but soon ran aground. At this point Eaves had to end the expedition and return to where he had reached the Grand Canyon. It was not until 1869 that Major John Wesley Powell became the first explorer to traverse the entire Colorado River. His expedition began the scientific study of the Grand Canyon.
Many scientists followed Powell here. The Grand Canyon has become a treasure trove for geologists, because the layers of ancient deposits exposed by the river can be considered the library where the information about the history of the Earth is kept. The oldest formations found on these slopes are 1.7 billion years old-nowhere else in the world! And the Colorado River continues its painstaking work for the glory of archaeology, exposing more rock strata to science every year.
Older than your grandfather: How the Colorado Grand Canyon formed and why it’s so deep
The main natural attraction in the United States, the Grand Canyon, or Grand Canyon of the Colorado River, is astounding in its size: – 446 km in length – the distance from Moscow to Voronezh, – to 29 km in width – a little less than the diameter of Moscow within the Moscow Ring Road – and more than 1800 m in depth – almost 6 Eiffel Towers. One of the deepest canyons in the world, a symbol of America – no less famous than the Statue of Liberty and Hollywood, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and universally recognized wonder of the world. How did this grand natural monument come to be? Why here and why is it so deep? Let’s find out!
Where is the Grand Canyon
The Grand Canyon is located in the middle reaches of the Colorado River in northwestern Arizona, near the borders with Utah and Nevada.
The Colorado River flows down from the Rocky Mountains from an elevation of about 3,000 meters, collecting the waters of melted snow and high mountain lakes, and transiting the vast arid landscape of the Colorado Plateau.
The lower and upper reaches of the river are now heavily regulated, with a series of reservoirs built on the Colorado River to supply water to arid regions, including the largest reservoir in the United States, the Mead Reservoir, formed above the famous Hoover Dam.
Hoover Dam on the Colorado River.
Historically, the Colorado River flows into the Gulf of California Pacific Ocean, but because of numerous hydraulic structures, the river waters only reach the ocean during major floods. These have been isolated instances over the past 50 years.
Most of Grand Canyon is within Grand Canyon National Park. The canyon as a whole is oriented from east to west and divides the park into two “carnies” (or two banks), the North and South Rims.
The two canyons of the Grand Canyon of the Colorado River.
What is a canyon?
A canyon is a specific landform created by a river flow. What distinguishes a canyon from all other river valleys is its extremely steep, often steep banks and a particularly narrow bottom.
Why canyons form
The key results of any river are the erosion of the ground (erosion), the transport of its particles by the water flow and their accumulation (accumulation) in new places. To understand which processes are predominant in the work of each particular river, you need to look at how the elevation of the terrain changes along its course. This is called a longitudinal profile.
Every stream seeks its own “equilibrium profile” – a smooth curve from source to mouth along which to flow with the least amount of energy. Remember the saying “water cuts stones”? Any obstacles in its path the river tends to erode, cut or bypass if they are hard and difficult to erode.
- Plains rivers flow through gentle territory close to the equilibrium profile, eroding mostly only their banks, slowly widening the channel and forming bends, which are called bends of the river. A noticeable deep incision of the river in this case usually does not occur.
- Rivers in mountainous areas and those that need to cross highly uneven terrain, mostly erode their own bottom, cut deeper and deeper into the rocks, trying to lower their channel to a comfortable height. Any disturbance of the equilibrium profile can provoke the start of incursion: both a general increase in the difference in elevation between the source and the mouth, and the appearance of local obstacles on the river path.
Individual blocks of the earth’s crust can rise and fall, disrupting the smooth flow of water across its surface. Active incision of a river may begin after deformations of the longitudinal profile associated with the elevation of the area through which the river flows or with the lowering of the estuary.
The more a river incurs, the more stream energy is expended in eroding the bottom into the depths, and the less is left to erode the banks and widen the channel.
In areas of most active deep erosion, rivers produce deep and narrow valleys – canyons. If you draw a line along the bottom of the canyon, you will definitely see that it is much flatter and smoother than the area around it-so the river adapts to the peculiarities of the local topography.
What led to the formation of the Grand Canyon
The area through which the Colorado River now flows has changed continuously over hundreds of millions of years. Thanks to rock analysis, we know that most of the time the area has been flooded by seas: warm and deep, shallow and cool. However, the area is located in a tectonically active region – on the border of lithospheric plates. Due to the vertical movements of the Earth’s crust, the area regularly emerged from the sea level and became land. Periods of sea-land have repeatedly alternated. And between 70 and 30 million years ago, the Colorado Plateau finally rose above sea level. Winding rivers flowed across the resulting landmass. Further uplift of the area led to the formation of the high Colorado Plateau. In addition, the coastline of the Pacific Ocean changed, the river gained access to the sea, and its mouth dropped sharply.
The significant elevation difference between the source and mouth of the Colorado River provided a large longitudinal slope of the channel. The emergence of a large gradient provided the stream with the necessary strength and “drive” to smooth out new ledges and develop a new equilibrium profile. The river’s reaction was a canyon of great depth. The whole process took millions of years and continues to this day.
The Colorado River’s bend in the Grand Canyon.
If you look at the Grand Canyon from above, you will see large river bends (meanders). You can hardly imagine that the river carved such an intricate looping path as it made its way across the high plateau. Apparently, the Colorado’s bends are the legacy of a river that, even before the plateau rose and the Grand Canyon formed, flowed across the surface of more gentle terrain. Beginning to cut in after the massive plateau uplift, the river lowered its course along with all its bends and meanders.
How old is the Grand Canyon of Colorado?
This is where scientists disagree. Some researchers suggest that the canyon was first formed here, which began its incision when the plateau rose about 70 million years ago. The Colorado River partially inherited and deepened it.
However, most scientists believe that the Grand Canyon is 5-6 million years old. That’s probably how long ago the Gulf of California “opened”. Narrow and long, it is actually a huge fault that formed at the site of a strong stretching of the Earth’s crust. The emergence of the gulf provided the Colorado River with a passage to the sea and lowered its mouth by 1,500 meters.
How did a small river manage to carve such a large canyon
In most photographs, the Colorado is a small mountain stream, and it is indeed difficult to compare the size of the river to the depth of the canyon. But make no mistake about the destructive power of a small mountain river. First, over millions of years, even a stream is capable of much, and secondly, it is worthwhile to understand how the mechanism of erosion itself works.
The main incursion occurs during floods and high waters – regular rises of water level during rains and in the period of active melting of mountain snows, when the stream is quite capable to carry and roll over even large boulders and rocks.
During floods on the plain rivers the water spreads out in a wide and shallow stream, but when the water level rises on the Colorado River the stream remains concentrated in a narrow canyon, and its destructive power is enormous.
About 350-400 cubic meters of water pass through the canyon in one second. When the water level rises, this volume can increase by more than 20 times.
Imagine 300,000 basketballs rushing past you in 1 second!
In addition to the extreme water flow, the significant longitudinal gradient, the great speed and destructive force of the stream itself, the surrounding natural conditions contribute to the rapid increase in the depth of the canyon.
The Grand Canyon of Colorado is located in a dry and hot arid climate that perfectly prepares the rocks for erosion. Such environmental conditions are aggressive, vegetation does not protect the rocks from temperature fluctuations, as a result, the rocks actually crumble into small fragments, and it is not difficult to tear them off and carry them to the stream.
The Colorado River is actively eroding its banks.
What is happening to the canyon now
The erosion of the rocks and erosion of the canyon is actively continuing to this day. Much of the canyon’s width owes much of its width to erosion of the rocks by Colorado River tributaries. Bank erosion and widening of the canyon is now proceeding at a faster pace than deepening. Already, the river has cut down to ancient granite and crystalline shale, and these are not easily eroded. In addition, the longitudinal gradient of the river channel has been reduced over millions of years of erosion, and the stream is much closer to a state of equilibrium than it was when the canyon began to form.
In any case, the Grand Canyon is a very dynamic system that is constantly evolving and changing. In general, the rate of change of a form on this scale takes incommensurably longer than human life. However, individual cliffs, remnants, and other natural wonders can disappear and appear almost before our eyes. Take a trip to one of the planet’s major natural monuments at your earliest opportunity. Its scope and understanding of natural history will not leave you indifferent.
The bizarre remains of Colorado’s Grand Canyon.
How to get to the Grand Canyon
First of all, make sure you have permission to enter the country.
Read here how to get a U.S. visa:
How to Get a U.S. Visa in 3 Weeks.
The Grand Canyon of Colorado is almost entirely located in Grand Canyon National Park, so you have to go there.
There are two main ways to get into the Grand Canyon: from the North Shore or South Shore (cornice) side. The national park entrance fee applies to both ledges and is $30 per car. For hikers and motorcyclists, it’s half that cost. For that money, you can spend a week in the park.
If you plan to visit several U.S. national parks in one trip, it makes sense to buy an annual unlimited ticket ($80), which entitles you to visit all U.S. national and recreational parks.
From the South.
The closest major city to the park is Las Vegas, 450 km from here to the South Rim. When planning your visit, note that not all parts of the park operate the same. South Rim is open year-round, and 90% of tourists visit the Grand Canyon from this side. There are two ways to get there: the South Entrance is near the town of Tusayan and the East/Desert View Entrance is in Cameron, Arizona. The South Entrance takes you into the central part of the canyon; the East Entrance is off-center.
Hopi point. View of the Grand Canyon from the South Cornice. View of the Grand Canyon of Colorado from Desert Viewpoint.
From the north.
The North Rim is known for more unique views, but runs from mid-May to mid-October. There is less tourist infrastructure here, and this shore is more removed from major highways.
There is only one hotel in close proximity to the main North Rim viewpoints, so plan your visit in advance if you want to stay here overnight.
You can get to the North Rim via Highway 67 from the town of Jacob Lake in northern Arizona. This part of the canyon is more suitable for independent travelers.
Although the canyon is only about 16 km wide, the depth of 1.6-1.8 km makes crossing from one shore to the other a challenge. A road trip from South Rim Village to North Rim Village takes 346 km or 4-5 hours.
Public transportation between the South and North banks of the Grand Canyon is poor. The only exception is the Trans Canyon Shuttle, which must be booked in advance.
The Grand Canyon from the North Rim. View of Cape Royal.
From the west.
The Grand Canyon can also be accessed from the west – three hours from Las Vegas is Grand Canyon West. Keep in mind, however, that this is Hualapai (“high pine people”) Indian territory, and here you will have to pay a separate sightseeing fee (about $80 per adult). Included are photo opportunities with the Indians and a walk along the Skywalk, a glass horseshoe-shaped overhead balcony at 1220 meters above the bottom of the canyon. Grand Canyon West is open year-round, but the Skywalk is accessible only during daylight hours. Unlike the North and South Corners, where the main purpose of most tourists is to walk along the banks and go down into the canyon, the west of the national park is visited primarily for the purpose of getting acquainted with the Indians.