Lonely Planet Grand Canyon National Park

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9781740595612: Lonely Planet Grand Canyon National Park

Includes in-depth coverage of nearby Native American sites, including historical and cultural background. Visits all the canyon rims with advice on finding the best views. Gives tips for hiking the canyon, by foot or mule, and includes coverage of surrounding points of interest and gateway cities.

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From the Publisher:

A trip to Grand Canyon National Park is an iconic American experience. Initially dismissed as little more than an obstacle to exploration, the canyon first drew 19th century miners bent on exploiting its rich natural resources. Native American resistance and the lack of water slowed development, but by the time Frederick Jackson Turner declared the end of the American frontier in 1893, entrepreneurs had transformed the canyon into one of the country's most celebrated destinations. At the dawn of the industrial revolution, people flocked to the canyon in search of the romanticized wilderness ideal and embraced its sublime beauty. They still do - today, the park attracts five million visitors each year from around the world.

Perhaps the most obvious draw is the spectacular landscape. The Grand Canyon's dramatic scenery enthralls even the most jaded visitors and leaves all who witness it somehow changed.

Its dimensions are mind-blowing. The Grand Canyon is a mile deep and averages 10 miles wide. Snaking along its floor are 277 miles of the Colorado River, which has carved the canyon over the past six million years, exposing rocks up to two billion years old - half of Earth's total life span. Anyone with even a passing interest in geology will find this a fascinating natural classroom. Viewpoints on both rims point out the various geological features, and rangers talks attract experts and novices alike.

The two rims of the Grand Canyon offer quite different experiences, and as they lie more than 200 miles apart by road, they are rarely visited on the same trip. Most visitors choose the South Rim, which boasts easy access, the bulk of services and the panoramic vistas for which the park is famous. The quieter North Rim has its own charms; at 8200ft elevation (1000ft higher than the South Rim), its cooler temperatures support wildflower meadows and tall, thick stands of aspen and spruce.

Hiking and rafting lure outdoor enthusiasts to the Grand Canyon year-round. With literally hundreds of miles of trails, including everything from moderate ambles through shaded woodland on the North Rim to treacherous scrambles on hot, inner-canyon trails, the park has something for hikers of every ability.

Trails from both rims descend into the canyon, and if you've got at least two days, you can hike from rim to rim. If you'd like to visit the inner canyon without hiking, take a mule trip, departing daily from both rims. Or consider a rafting trip. Each year more than 22,000 people raft the Colorado, and they're not all hardcore thrill-seekers; you'll find people of all ages, experience levels and capabilities on the river.

The canyon is also rich in human and cultural history. After an intensive survey of just 3% of the park, researchers have uncovered more than 4000 archeological resources, some stretching back nearly 10,000 years. Visitors can drive to such ancient sites as the Walhalla ruins on the North Rim or the Tusayan Ruins & Museum on the South Rim. Backcountry hikers can access other sites, including petroglyphs (etched images) and pictographs (painted images) along the canyon walls.

Despite the Grand Canyon's many riches, most visitors only spend a few hours in the park. It is possible to appreciate the canyon through a short stroll along the Rim Trail or an afternoon drive from viewpoint to viewpoint. But stay longer if you can. The more time you have, the more you'll discover its subtle nuances and quiet charm - a fairyland of moss deep in the canyon, a teasing creek cascading over rocks, echoes of history at ancient Pueblo Indian sites, and a silence and stillness that seem to engulf you. Even a short hike beneath the rim forms an intimate connection to the land that adds to the grandeur. Take your time, and let the Grand Canyon reveal its secrets.

Review:

...it would be hard to better this series of Lonely Planet National Park guides.' -- Suite101.com, March 2008

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Denniston, Jennifer, Marr, Amy, Lukas, D
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