Grand Canyon is one of the most vast, beautiful, easily recognized, harsh, and inspiring places on Earth. It is one of our planet’s few natu­ral landmarks vis­i­ble from outer space, and its magnificent pa­noramas, ecosystems, cultures, and history lure millions of visitors per year. Most of ­these visitors connect strongly with ­Grand Canyon from trails and overlooks on the rim. However, even ­these trails and overlooks ­can’t encompass all of ­Grand Canyon. Although abundant and stretching for hundreds of miles, trails span less than 25 ­percent of the rims along ­Grand Canyon, and many parts of GCNP remain virtually unexplored. Early visitors to ­Grand Canyon saw and interpreted the canyon in dif­fer­ent ways. Native Americans ­ were sustained by ­ Grand Canyon, and they, in turn, protected and revered the land. The first known Eu­ro­pe­ans to see ­Grand Canyon arrived in 1540 (80 years before the Pilgrims landed at Plymouth Rock), when a detachment of Spanish soldiers led by Captain García López de Cárdenas reached the South Rim. Cárdenas and his men ­were astonished by the canyon’s size what appeared as small boulders ­ were taller than the 342-­foot-­high ­ Great Tower of Seville. Cárde- nas considered the canyon ­ little more than an obstacle to finding the Lost Cities of Gold that he sought. ­ There was virtually no more interest in ­Grand Canyon for more than 300 years, when—in 1857—an expedition led by Lt. Joseph Christmas Ives rode a steamboat up the Colorado River into part of the lower canyon. Although the expedition’s naturalist John Strong Newberry appreciated the canyon’s geologi- cal significance, Ives declared that the area was “altogether valueless” and, ­ after seeing it, that ­there was “nothing to do but leave.” ­ Until the 1860s, the Colorado River through ­Grand Canyon remained unex- plored ­ because of its presumed dangers and remote location. The river’s large drop in elevation was assumed to mean that ­ there ­ were violent rapids and high waterfalls that would make navigation dangerous and difficult, if not impossible. In 1869, despite ­ these presumed dangers, Civil War hero John Wesley Powell deci­ ded to run the Colorado River through ­Grand Canyon. Along the way, Powell and his crew experienced many hardships, and their task became increasingly diffi- cult. They knew the dangers ahead of them (Powell, 2013): And now we go on through this solemn, mysterious way. The river is very deep, the canyon very narrow, and still obstructed, so that ­there is no steady flow of the stream but the ­waters reel and roll and boil, and we are scarcely able to determine where we can go. . . . ​We can neither land nor run as we please. The boats are entirely unmanageable no order in their ­running Introduction
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