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The Grand Canyon: An Encyclopedia of Geography, History, and Culture
Pagexiii(14 of 441)
Grand Canyon is the most internationally recognized landscape and symbol of nature in North America. People around the world have heard and seen books, postcards, documentaries, and televisions shows about Grand Canyon, and many of these people consider their visit to Grand Canyon a highlight of their lives. Whether at the rim, along an inner canyon trail, or at the bottom of Grand Can- yon aboard a boat on the Colorado River, virtually everyone marvels at what they see and often struggles to understand the feelings that accompany the beauty and immensity of what is around them. Some people are scared by Grand Canyon, others are entertained, and almost all are inspired by what they see and feel. But what is this place called Grand Canyon? What do Grand Canyon’s millions of visitors per year come for, and what, exactly, do they see? For most visitors, Grand Canyon is a beautiful and famous place that they’ve heard much about and are anx- ious to see. Is it really 10 miles across the canyon? Is the river really a mile below the rim? Are the views really that stunning? Yes, yes, and yes. But there’s more. Although its landscapes are overwhelming, most visitors soon understand that Grand Canyon is more than just pretty views this is why the experience of visit- ing Grand Canyon, unlike that of most other places, often lingers. And this, in turn, is why many people who come to Grand Canyon return to it. People are lured to Grand Canyon and Grand Canyon National Park (GCNP) for a multitude of reasons: For many Native Americans, Grand Canyon is a sacred, revered, spiritual place where their ancestors originated and lived and to which their spirits will someday return. Today, some Native Americans continue to go on cultural and spiritual pilgrimages to and in Grand Canyon, as their families and ances- tors have done for centuries. For river runners, Grand Canyon is a place to experience challenging, world- class rapids in a unique setting unmatched anywhere else in the world. The violent, churning rapids, combined with the otherwise peaceful solitude at the bottom of Grand Canyon, inspire many people. For geologists, Grand Canyon offers a deep look—literally—at Earth’s history and the stunning power of erosion. Nowhere is Earth’s past more obvious and accessible than at Grand Canyon. For artists, Grand Canyon is a place for inspiration, challenges, and creative renewal. The ever changing colors and landscapes of Grand Canyon defy art- ists’ attempts to capture what they see and even what they imagine. For concessionaires, Grand Canyon and its throngs of tourists are an opportu- nity to build personal empires, design iconic buildings, and help visitors enjoy their time at the canyon. Grand Canyon is big business. Preface