"unique combinations of geologic color and erosional forms…that overwhelm our senses through its immense size"
On February 26, 2019, the Grand Canyon celebrates its 100th anniversary as a National Park. Yellowstone National Park was the first such park in the US (and indeed considered to be the first national park in the world), having been designated in 1872. But the US National Park Service was not created—as a unit of the Department of the Interior—until 1916. Three years after its creation, NPS designated one of the most remarkable landscapes in the country (and the world!) as a National Park citing its “unique combinations of geologic color and erosional forms…that overwhelm our senses through its immense size.” The Grand Canyon also was designated a World Heritage Site in 1979.
Of course the gorge was cut over millions of years by the Colorado River, revealing in striking colors its history of geologic events. (The photo above from the Yavapai Point View is in the public domain). Humans began occupying the region beginning about 10,000 years ago and even today descendants of the Puebloan people still consider the canyon part of their homeland. Its designation as a National Park in 1919 included legal protections from development and resource extraction, but even as the Grand Canyon today is the 2nd most visited National Park in the United States (after Great Smoky Mountains National Park), development pressures continue to put this magnificent park at risk.
Recently, a whistleblower exposed the fact that samples of radioactive uranium ore were left unprotected in a park building, possibly endangering the health of numerous visitors who tour the collections each year and NPS staff who work there. And still the current ban on mining claims close to the Grand Canyon is only temporary, leading an Arizona congressman to push for legislation to make the mining ban permanent. Such legislation would be a fitting birthday present to one of the “Wonders of the World.” Happy centennial birthday to Grand Canyon National Park!
Grand Canyon Centennial Events
National Park Service website
How the Grand Canyon Transformed From a ‘Valueless’ Place to a National Park
By Stephen Pyne
February 6, 2019
Overcoming A 'Long, Bitter Relationship,' Grand Canyon And Tribes Mark Centennial
By Laurel Morales
National Public Radio
February 24, 2019
Possible radiation exposure at Grand Canyon National Park investigated
February 19 (updated February 20), 2019
Arizona Rep. Grijalva to push for permanent ban on new mining claims
The Associated Press
February 23, 2019