Grand Canyon: America’s Greatest Natural Wonder

The Grand Canyon as seen from the South Rim. (Phot by Roger Bolsius via Wikimedia Commons)
The Grand Canyon as seen from the South Rim. (Photo by Roger Bolsius via Wikimedia Commons)

On this date in 1908, the Grand Canyon was designated a national monument.

Here are some things you may not have known about the natural wonder.

The Grand Canyon is 277 miles long, its width varies from four to 18 miles across and it is more than 6,000 feet deep at some points.

The canyon was created by erosion caused by the Colorado River and uplift of the surrounding plateau over the course of 5 to 6 million years.

The Grand Canyon has been inhabited by Native Americans for thousands of years. The latest research suggests that the first people lived there around 1200 BC. Among the groups who have lived in and around the canyon are the Hualapai, the Havasupai, the Navajo and the Southern Paiute.

The first European to see the Grand Canyon was Garcia Lopez de Cardenas, who arrived from Spain in 1540.

The first European Americans to reach the Grand Canyon were part of a group of trappers led by James Ohio Pattie in 1826. In 1869, John Wesley Powell led an expedition down the Green River and Colorado River, starting in Wyoming. Following the expedition, Powell became the first person to use the term “Grand Canyon.” Until 1871, it had been known as the slightly less impressive “Big Canyon.”

U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt visited the canyon in 1903, and protected the area as a federal game preserve in 1906. He re-designated it as a national monument in 1908. Claims by landowners and miners prevented the area from becoming a national park until 1919, when it became the 17th U.S. National Park.

In 2015, the park was the second most-visited national park in the U.S., with about 5 and a half million visitors.

Our question: What U.S. National Park is the most-visited?

Today is National Human Trafficking Awareness Day in the United States, Children’s Day in Tunisia and Republic Day in Albania.

It’s unofficially National Apples Day in Germany, and in the U.S. it’s National Milk Day, and National Hot Toddy Day.

It’s the birthday of U.S. founding father Alexander Hamilton, who was born in 1755; women’s rights activist Alice Paul, who was born in 1885; and singer Mary J. Blige, who turns 46.

Because our topic happened before 1960, we’ll spin the wheel to pick a year at random.

This week in 1974, the top song in the U.S. was “The Joker” by the Steve Miller Band.

The No. 1 movie was “The Exorcist,” while the novel “Burr” by Gore Vidal topped the New York Times Bestsellers list. Now for our weekly question: Who was the first person to appear in a commercial for the iPhone?

Submit your answer at and we’ll add the name of the person with the first correct answer to our winner’s wall … at We’ll reveal the correct answer on Friday’s episode.


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