Monday – November 10, 2014
Grand Canyon National Park – South Rim
Grand Canyon, Arizona
We awoke to a cool, brisk morning with the temperature in the high twenties. The weather forecast for this week is for clear, sunny skies, with daytime temperatures in the low sixties and nighttime temperatures in the high twenties.
We visited the Grand Canyon Visitor Center and Mather Point this morning. Mather Point is one of the most popular overlook points in the Grand Canyon. The visitor is presented with one of the Earth’s most powerful, inspiring landscapes that overwhelms the senses. It tells the story of geologic processes played out over unimaginable time spans as a unique combination of size, color, and dazzling erosional forms: 277 river miles long, up to 18 miles wide, and a mile deep. Its rugged landscape hosts a fascinating variety of plant and animal communities, from the desert next to the Colorado River deep in the canyon to montane forests atop its North Rim.
It was quite windy this afternoon, with wind gusts up to 40 mph, so we decided we would take an auto tour of the Desert View Drive. This drive has several overlook points of the Grand Canyon.
Grand Canyon reveals a beautiful sequence of rock layers that serve as windows into time. The carving of the canyon is only the most recent chapter, a geologic blink of an eye, in a long story. That long story includes rock nearly two billion years old in the bottom of the canyon, land masses colliding and drifting apart, mountains forming and eroding away, sea levels rising and falling, and relentless forces of moving water. Several factors make Grand Canyon’s geology remarkable. Many canyons form as rivers cascade among mountain peaks, but Grand Canyon sits incised into an elevated plateau. The desert landscape exposes the geology to view. It is not hidden under a cloak of vegetation. The strata revealed preserve a lengthy, although incomplete, record of Earth’s history.
We completed our auto tour at the Desert View Visitor Center. While there, we climbed to the top of Desert View Watchtower. We were entertained by two bull elk, grazing at the visitor center.
Tomorrow another adventure begins.