Fun facts about the Grand Canyon for kids: Grand Canyon facts for homeschooling, family trivia nights and to help you plan your family trip to the Grand Canyon.
The Grand Canyon is more than just a stunning, jaw-droppingly beautiful natural wonder.
It is also a place with fantastic learning opportunities, a place where you can learn about nature, animals, history, geography and where you can hear stories of wonderful adventures and beave expeditions.
We learned all of this and more during our last family trip to the Grand Canyon a couple of summers ago.
Thanks to the Junior ranger program, we spoke with rangers, saw museums and learned some of the many secrets of the Canyon.
Today, we share them with you!
These are our favorite fun facts about the Grand Canyon for kids, answering the questions we had before visiting and the answers we learned along the way.
At the bottom of this post, you will find the list of resources we used to write these fun facts about the Grand Canyon and where you can go for further reading.
After reading all this, we are sure you will agree this is one of the most interesting and beautiful places in the USA!
Grand Canyon Facts: Questions and Answers
The Grand Canyon tells us about the history of planet Earth
What is special about the Grand Canyon?
Many things make the Grand Canyon special.
The most important of all is probably the fact that the Canyon is like a history book telling us the story of the animals, plants, climate and life in the Canyon in general over the course of the millennia.
Animals and plants that lived here left traces on the rocks and now we can use these traces to learn about them.
The Grand Canyon, in this sense, is like a wonderful time machine!
The Grand Canyon is UNESCO World Heritage Site
The Grand Canyon is so unique and beautiful and significant, in 1979 UNESCO added it to its list of World Heritage Site.
It is considered invaluable thanks to its beauty and all it can teach us about the earth, its geology and biology over the course of time
The Grand Canyon is in Arizona, USA
Where is the Grand Canyon?
The Grand Canyon is in the State of Arizona in the South West of the United States.
It is one the North West corner of the State, close to both Utah and Nevada.
The Grand Canyon is … very big
How big is the Grand Canyon?
The Grand Canyon is indeed grand.
The Canyon is 277 miles long (=446km), 18 miles wide (29km) at its widest point and 6000 feet (1800 mt) deep at its deepest point!
The Grand Canyon is not the biggest in the world
Is the Grand Canyon the biggest Canyon in the world?
Despite these impressive numbers, no, the Grand Canyon is not the biggest Canyon in the world.
The record stays with the Yarlung Tsangpo Canyon in Tibet (Asia) which is both deeper and longer.
The Grand Canyon was formed by a river
How did the Grand Canyon form?
The Grand Canyon is a huge canyon excavated by the mighty Colorado River.
Over the course of the millennia, the force of the river water has eroded the rocks it touched and effectively created a massive hole, at the bottom of which the Colorado rivers still flows.
You can see it from the rim of the Canyon and imagine how powerful it must be to have created something that majestic!
No one knows how old the Canyon really is
How old is the Grand Canyon?
While experts know the Grand Canyons is at least 6 million years old, no one can tell for certain when it actually started to form.
In 2012 a team of scientists suggested the beginning of the Canyon may go as far back as 70 million years ago, which is much earlier than originally thought!
While there is no final answer about this question yet, it is likely that the truth is in the middle: 70 million years ago small canyons started to form but the canyon as we know it now, only came into existence as such much later.
The Grand Canyon is made of several types of rocks
What is the Grand Canyon made of?
The Grand Canyon is made of several types of rocks, most of them sedimentary in nature.
Sedimentary rocks create layers of rocks, each with unique characteristics: this is what gives the Canyon its distinctive appearance and also what allows us to now learn about it.
The Grand Canyon is a National Park (with some exceptions!)
Is the Grand Canyon a National Park?
Most of the Grand Canyon is inside the Grand Canyon National Park. It was established in 1919 to protect the land and it was the 17th National Park to come into existence.
However, not all of the Canyon is part of the park. Some parts still belong to the native population of the area and are not managed by the National park service.
The Grand Canyon creates its own weather
The Grand Canyon is so large, deep and varied it has its own weather system or rather several weather systems!
Depending on where in the Canyon you go, you will find different temperatures and therefore different plants and animals.
For instance, the North Rim closes in winter due to rigid weather while the Southern Rim doesn’t this despite them being only 10 miles apart (by air, id you want to drive between the South Rim and the North Rim it will take several hours, it is over 200 km!).
The Canyon has several ecosystems
The variety of weather and altitude means that the Canyon has several ecosystems.
The park ecosystems are called Lower Sonoran, Upper Sonoran, Transition, Canadian, and Hudsonian: they are so different from each other, traveling through them is like walking from Canada to Mexico in terms of diversity!
In the Grand Canyon, you will find Boreal Forest, Ponderosa forest, Pinyon-Juniper Woodland and Riparian environments, all with different animals and plants.
The Grand Canyon is home to many different animal species
Many different types of animals live in the Grand Canyon: over 400 species of birds, 91 species of mammals (like big horn sheep, squirrels, elks, mountain lions etc), reptiles and insects.
What is the most dangerous animal in the Grand Canyon?
This may be unexpected in a park with mountain lions however, the most dangerous animal in the Canyon for people is the squirrel!
While they are cute and they tend to come close to people, you must not touch them: not only you can harm them but they hurt you.
The Grand Canyon has fish you cannot find anywhere else
The Canyon is home to 8 different species of fish, 6 of which are only found in the Colorado river basin.
The Grand Canyons stayed unexplored for hundreds of years
The first Europeans to arrive at the Grand Canyon were Spaniards soldiers who were exploring the area to find a navigable river that would take them to California in 1540.
The made several attempts to reach the water from the top of the Canyon but failed and ended up settling farther East in Texas instead.
After this first failed expedition, the canyons remained unexplored for over 230 years.
However, this doesn’t mean that is wasn’t inhabited: the Hopi population lived and still live in the area now.
There is a town in the Grand Canyon
Do people live in the Grand Canyon?
Yes! The Grand Canyon has its own town called Supai Village.
It is within the Havasupai Reservation and it is one of the most remote villages in the whole of the USA: it not accessible by car.
The Grand Canyon is great for finding fossils
Due to its long history and the nature of its rocks, the Grand Canyon is a paradise for fossil hunters.
The oldest date back to Precambrian Time 1,200 million to 740 million years ago but you also have much more recent ones, dating back just 10000 years ago.
They are a wonderful clue to try and understand how life in this area evolved and what the Canyon must have looked like in the past.
Need to know! While fossils are great fun to spot, make sure you do not pick them up if you find them! Instead, tell a ranger about your discovery so they can make sure the fossil is safe and they can use it for more amazing discoveries
There are no dinosaur bones in the Grand Canyon
Despite the large number of fossils, you will not find dinosaur bones in the Grand Canyon. For that, you need to go to the Petrified Forest National Monument instead.
About 5 million visitors visit the Grand Canyon each year
The Grand Canyon is an exceptionally popular destination but not all areas of the Canyon are as popular as each other.
The South Rim is the part of the Grand Canyon with the most tourism facilities and the one that receives the most visitors.
It has restaurants, hotels, trails and museums.
You can hike down the Grand Canyon
The Grand Canyon is a great place for hikes but they are not all easy.
While the Rim trail is flat and accessible, the hikes going down the Canyon are very long and require hiking experience and the right gear.
You can go river rafting in the Colorado river
Adventurous souls can go river rafting in the Colorado River.
This is a wonderful way to see the canyon: if you do this and explore the rim, you see it from both below and above!
Fun facts about the Grand Canyon: resources
To compile these fun facts about the Grand Canyon article, we used several resources.
- The rangers talks at the Grand Canyon National Park
- The Junior Ranger booklet that we took in the park as part of the junior ranger program
- The Grand Canyon NP info leaflets provided by the park
- The website of the Grand Canyon National Park
I hope you enjoyed this overview of this natural wonder. Happy learning and exploring!