Fun Fact #1
The California condor is considered one of the rarest birds in the world and is the largest land bird in North America. The condor boasts a wingspan of 9 ½ feet and weighs up to 22 pounds. The condor is unmistakable, black in color with white wing-linings and a silvery panel on its upper flight feathers. It has a naked head which is orange – red in color.
The condor is considered one of the most endangered birds and at one point, its population dangerously declined to less than 25 birds. Prior to the extinction faced by the condor, it made the Grand Canyon its home for nearly 10,000 years. Through captive breeding and the efforts of the Peregrine Fund, the population has steadily grown and there are now more than 72 condors in the area. Condors prefer mountains, gorges and hillsides which create updrafts and provide them with favorable soaring conditions, thus making the Grand Canyon an ideal home for these magnificent creatures. With the thermal updrafts, condors can fly at speeds up to 50 miles per hour and travel more than 100 miles in search of food, all while exerting little energy.
Condors are members of the vulture family and prove to be gifted scavengers, feeding on dead animals like deer, cattle, rabbits, sheep and large rodents.
Condors are very social creatures, spending a lot of time feeding and roosting together. They are also known to congregate near people.
Fun Fact #2
- The oldest human artifacts found in the Grand Canyon National Park date to the Paleo-Indian period and are nearly 12,000 years old!
Fun Fact #3
- The Kaibab limestone caprock on the rims of the Grand Canyon formed over 270 million years ago. The Canyon itself was formed by the Colorado River over 6 million years ago. Perhaps one of the most spectacular examples of erosion, the Grand Canyon is estimated to have taken 3-6 million years to form and erosion still continues today, with the river, rain, snow, heat and frost enhancing the rock formations that are already present. In some areas the Grand Canyon is up to 18 miles wide and a mile deep.
Fun Fact #4
- The Colorado River flows west through the canyon at an average of 4 miles per hour and is 300 feet wide and up to 40 feet deep.
Fun Fact #5
- The Grand Canyon National Park was made a national monument in 1908 and became a national park in 1919. The park encompasses over a million acres of land on the Colorado Plateau in northwestern Arizona and contains over 277 miles of the Colorado River. The park is populated by five Indian tribes, the Hopi, Navajo, Havasupai, Paiute and Hualapai. It is home to over 1,500 plants, 88 species of mammals, 56 species of reptiles and amphibians and 17 species of fish. It is also inhabited by over 355 species of birds, including the Bald Eagle, Peregrine Falcon and the California condor, which boasts over a 10 foot wingspan.
Fun Fact #6
- The Grand Canyon contains five of the seven life zones and three of the four desert types seen North American. The life zones hosted by the Grand Canyon are the Lower Sonoran, Upper Sonoran, Transition, Canadian and Hudsonian. One can see as many life zones in the Grand Canyon alone, as they would if traveling from Mexico to Canada. Over 5 million people visit the Grand Canyon each year.