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The really big hole in the ground

July 5, 2018

It’s just a whole in the ground, what’s the big deal? Consider this.  It’s over 400km long, 29km wide at spots, descends from the edge down 1.8km and contains nearly 2 billion years of geological history!

 

The Grand Canyon has always stirred our curiosity and with over 6 million visitors in 2017, we don’t seem to be the only ones.  The Grand Canyon is the second most visited national park in the United States and provides a vista that is unparalleled.  Coming for just the views and landscape would make this a worthwhile stop on any road trip, but for us, the geological processes in action were what we wanted to learn about.  Weathering, erosion and deposition are some of the key forces at work in the Grand Canyon and important processes that we teach in class.  Anyone can observe them in action during spring floods as the water turns brown with dirt and rocks from areas upstream.  The difference is here we see the results from 6 million years of erosion.  Here we saw the dramatic impact of small steps over a large scale of time.   

Unlike the time available to form the Grand Canyon, we were quite limited and could only spend a day at the park.  We’d love to come back and hike the rim trail or bright angle trail, but realistically, these activities would be better suited for adults or teenagers so I’m glad we didn’t attempt them this time around.  Still our kids loved the views and learning about the science of it’s formation.  We were also able to take advantage of the greenway bike trail (10.5km) into the park which gave our family some seclusion compared to the crowds of the visitor centre.  It was a little overwhelming for a small Southern Alberta boy to deal with the crowds and I’m looking forward to some smaller crowds at our next stop, The Petrified Forest.

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