Visited: December, 2005 and September, 2008
Background and Opinion:
It’s THE Grand Canyon, pretty much everyone and their mother on Earth has heard of it! How can anyone bet against it right? I’ve been to the old hole twice and both times to the northern rim. It is spectacular to see, but it is best explored on the less traveled trails or you will find yourself pushing and shoving screaming children for a good view, let alone a picture. While it is easy to say “wow, it is so amazing, you must go there,” it is a bit harder to point out the pitfalls of this site to give you an idea on what to expect. As one of the most visited sites in the world, the Grand Canyon’s short trails on the northern rim are very very very crowded. In addition to being a World Heritage Site, it has also been called one of the top 20 natural world wonders in the world, so it’s popularity isn’t exactly waning. However, the canyon spreads across more than half of Arizona, so finding a spot to yourself shouldn’t be hard. Some people hike down to the bottom, and back up, taking several days in some cases, so come prepared. While I was quite satisfied with my visits, I must admit that I don’t think it’s the flawless gem most people make it out to be. While nature sites are abundant in America, I would still put it in the “can’t miss” list if you have never been here before.
For those of you living under a rock, here is a brief history: The Grand Canyon was carved out by the Colorado River over the course of millions or years through a process called ‘abrasion’. Rarely are rivers this persistent in slowly but surely carving out a canyon, usually drying up or changing directions over the millennia. The Grand Canyon has however, and it is measured as the world’s deepest canyon at about a mile in depth (1600 meters).
1) Completeness / Preservation (15/15): Again, hard to argue with the US National Park Service.
2) Extensiveness of the Site (12/15): It stretches half of the length of Arizona. That is longer than most many countries. (Yes, South Korea, I’m looking at you!). However, you can fully experience it in about a full day or two.
3) Natural Significance (17.5/25): What does it contribute to the biodiversity of the world? How is it in terms of landscape, cleanliness, and natural beauty?
4) Personal Impact (9.5/15): Maybe I’ve been spoiled with nature in the western United States. It was cool, but Zion and Yellowstone are more amazing to me.
5) Logistics (3/10): While it is not difficult to drive to, it is not very convenient at all. It is about 5 hours away from Las Vegas. The nearest town is about 3 hours away. In addition, public transportation is near non-existent, making it necessary to come by car. The north rim is extremely crowded on the short trails. I didn’t expect it to be desolate, but I also didn’t expect to hear more screaming children on a trail than in a crowded city.
6) Uniqueness (11/20): Yes, it is supposed to be the deepest canyon in the world. Peru however, claims they have a deeper one. While nothing is exactly like it, its uniqueness is definitely overhyped, as Zion and Bryce Canyon have better views.
Combined Score: 68/100
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