Post by Kristy McCaffrey
This will be the first installment of a 4-part series on the Grand Canyon.
Grand Canyon National Park, located in Arizona, is known for its overwhelming size and its intricate and colorful landscape. Over time, the elements have scoured and carved the dramatically splendid Grand Canyon, known as one of the world’s seven natural wonders. The distance from the South Rim to the North Rim varies from half a mile to eighteen miles, and the canyon has a maximum depth of 6,000 feet. This great range in elevation allows for a variety of climate, flora, and fauna; of the seven life zones on the North American continent, four can be experienced within Grand Canyon.
The most prominent feature in the Grand Canyon, besides the deep gorges exposing millions of years of rock layers, lies at the bottom—the Colorado River. Named in 1776 by a Spanish missionary, Padre Francisco Tomás Garcés, it means “red” in Spanish, which is how the river would have appeared back then. Due to the construction of Glen Canyon Dam in northeastern Arizona in 1964, the river is now clear, clean, and cold.
|Here's me on the Colorado River on a week-long boat trip|
through Grand Canyon.
The river begins as a tiny stream in Rocky Mountain National Park, eventually flowing into Lake Powell, formed by the Glen Canyon Dam. Below the dam, it begins its journey through Marble Canyon by joining with the Paria River. At the confluence of the Little Colorado River does the Colorado finally enter Grand Canyon National Park, flowing 217 miles until it reaches Lake Mead Recreation Area.
|John Wesley Powell|
The first documented expedition of the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon was accomplished by Major John Wesley Powell in 1869. Powell, a Civil War veteran with only one arm, and nine companions became the first men to journey 1,000 miles on the river, part of it through Grand Canyon. They braved rapids, heat, plummeting morale, and the loss of three men. Powell’s account of this expedition, Exploration of the Colorado River of the West and Its Tributaries, made him a national hero as well as brought the canyon to the attention of the country. The Paiutes called the plateau that the canyon cuts through ”Kaibab” or “Mountain Lying Down,” but it was Powell who first consistently used and published the name “Grand Canyon” in the 1870’s.
In addition to setting her 1877 historical western romance The Sparrow in Grand Canyon, Kristy will also have a short story featuring this natural wonder in Lassoing A Groom, an anthology coming this summer from Prairie Rose Publications. A U.S. Deputy Marshal hunts a fugitive in Grand Canyon, but is saddled with an unwanted companion when he rescues a young woman who may not be what she seems. To stay up-to-date, visit Kristy's website.