One of Arizona's greatest treasures, Grand Canyon National Park, turns 90 today.
If it wasn't for the protections this designation offered, by now the park would probably be strung up with cable cars, lined with resort hotels and full of reservoir water. Instead, the Grand Canyon remains in relatively pristine condition -- a wilderness of desert life and colorful rock with a beauty capable of stunning the most jaded visitors.
Here's a little background on the park from the National Park Service:
When and why did Grand Canyon become a National Park?
Grand Canyon is unmatched throughout the world in the incomparable vistas it offers to visitors on the rim. It is not the deepest canyon in the world (both the Barranca del Cobre in northern Mexico and Hell's Canyon in Idaho are deeper, just to name two), but the Grand Canyon is known throughout the world for its overwhelming size and its intricate and colorful landscape.
Geologically it is significant because of the thick sequence of ancient rocks that are beautifully preserved and exposed in the walls of the canyon. These rock layers record much of the early geological history of the North American continent. Finally, it is one of the most spectacular examples of erosion in the world.
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Although first afforded Federal protection in 1893 as a Forest Reserve and later as a National Monument, Grand Canyon did not achieve National Park status until 1919, three years after the creation of the National Park Service. Today Grand Canyon National Park receives close to five million visitors each year - a far cry from the annual visitation of 44,173 which the park received in 1919. Grand Canyon became a national park in order to give it the best protection we as a nation have to offer. The mission of the National Park Service, here and elsewhere, is to preserve the park and all of its features, including the processes that created them, and to provide for the enjoyment of the park by visitors in a way that will leave the canyon unspoiled for future generations.
The park service is celebrating the day at 1:30 p.m. by cutting the ribbon on the new Verkamp's Visitor Center on the South Rim.
Kind of makes us want to grab our hiking shoes and join the party.