Who does not know the Grand Canyon, this fantastic fault bristling with majestic peaks, one of the most spectacular geological phenomena there is?

overall view of red rock canyon
An overall view of the amazing Grand Canyon. Picture from @ericlhu

Descend into the Grand Canyon

Scratching up and down the vast plateau stretching from southern Utah to northern Arizona, Colorado has carved a superb winding bed out of the rock for almost 445 km. The canyon can reach 1,829 m in depth with a maximum width of almost 29 km.

canyon covered by grass and trees at navajo point in grand canyon
Navajo Point is the highest point of the Grand Canyon, culminating at 8,803 feet (or 2600 meters). Picture from @courtneylwilson

A little bit of history

Difficult to imagine, but for 2 billion years, the territory of the Grand Canyon has seen the passing of several seas, mountain deserts as high as Hima-laya. The sand found everywhere is mainly of marine origin. Mixed with sediments, it gradually agglomerated, eventually transforming into sandstone and shale. At the end of the secondary era, under the pressure of the continental plates, the Colorado plain gradually rose to form the plateau. Then it tilted as the Rockies appeared further east. The river has started to dig. The more it descends, the more geological layers it reveals. The oldest, at the very bottom, is 1.8 billion years old, while the canyon itself would only have formed in the last 5 to 6 million years.

red rock canyon before night time
Picture from @courtneylwilson

We can read in summary two-fifths of the history of the Earth. Due to the considerable altitude differences, five of the seven major climatic zones are found from bottom to top. Thus, around 1000 m, at the bottom of the gorge, cacti indicate a dry subtropical climate. At 1,200 m, there is a temperate influence, with oaks and mahogany trees. Higher up there are pines. Finally, around 2,500 m, there is a Canadian-type climatic zone, with a pine and fir forest (especially on the north shore). This created great biodiversity of plants, birds, and mammals. Among them, the squirrels are the ones you will most likely see, as well as the deers.

A video of the Grand Canyon to really see what it looks like. Video from @courtneylwilson

The Grand Canyon seen from above

The most spectacular way to discover the site is to fly over the fault by helicopter. Please note, for a flight of 25 to 30 minutes, you really only fly over the canyon for about 15 minutes. But what a spectacle! Otherwise, you can also discover the Grand Canyon on foot or simply admire the landscape from the ledge, which follows some easily accessible trails. You can also browse it in rafts, the best suited to the “natural” context, but you must reserve your place well in advance.

What’s the weather like in Grand Canyon?

Because of the altitude changes, the temperature varies a lot. To have a little idea, we can say that the temperatures go from -8 in January to 30 degrees in July.

temperatures every month in grand canyon
The average temperatures during the year in the Grand Canyon

This means that it can snow during winter, adding one more dimension to this incredible landscape.

snow convering red rock canyon
Some snow can fall during winter in the Grand Canyon. Picture from @derekrliang

Where to land to see the Grand Canyon

Choosing where to land is always a difficult question. Depending on what you want to visit, where you can stay, whether you want to include this destination inside a road trip, the choice will be different. If you are interested in the U.S. road trips, you should download my e-book: The Best U.S. Road Trip. It’s free.

Here, landing in Las Vegas is the simplest option. Once you are here, why not enjoying the city for a bit?

red and white lighted welcome to Las Vegas Nevada sign
Picture from Guido Coppa

The Megalomania of Las Vegas

Las Vegas could write its own Guinness World Records book. Indeed, this breath-taking city is known for its “special” activities. In Las Vegas, you will find 6 of the 10 biggest hotels in the world, the tallest Ferris Wheel, and more than 80 000 marriages take place here every year.

The casinos are the main reason why Las Vegas is known everywhere in the world. Those buildings are located on the Strip and in Downtown, which are the two famous districts of Vegas.

However, Vegas is not for everyone. Just like Dubai, Las Vegas is a divisive city. If you do not want to discover it, feel free to stop reading now. On the other hand, if you want to discover what you can see in Las Vegas, keep reading.

bird's-eye view photography of concrete high-rise buildings
Picure from Ken Yam

On the Las Vegas Strip

The Venetian is a must-see of the Strip. It is the reproduction of Venice, in an American way. If you have already been to Venice, you will recognize Saint Marc Square, the bell-tower, the Doge’s Palace, the Bridge of Sighs, and many more. You will also see a 365 meters long canal, surrounded by shops and hotels. The canal is covered by a fake blue sky, which is incredible.

This Italian inspiration can also be found at the Bellagio, which is the place where was shot the movie Ocean’s Eleven with Julia Roberts, George Clooney, and Brad Pitt. The entrance hall is covered with mosaics, which makes the entire building look luxurious.

The casinos of the Strip also reproduce some great monuments around the world. The Luxor represents the highest pyramid of Gizeh, and you can also see the Sphinx. The Paris-Las Vegas has its own Eiffel Tower (half as tall as the real one). Finally, the New York-New York Hotel and Casino has got its towers which reproduce the ones from Manhattan.

Eiffel Tower in Las Vegas
Picture from Mike Boening

Basically, on the Las Vegas Strip, you can do your little world tour for cheap. Let’s now head to Downtown, the more popular part of Las Vegas, where you will discover other types of wonders.

At Downtown

One thing you should do at Downtown is wandering in Fremont Street at night. Every single building is covered by fluorescent lights. And when it is not the case, it is because a giant screen replaced the neon lights. A vault is over your head during the walk. It’s the biggest screen in the world, formed by 12 million lightbulbs. Here, you can even fly, thanks to a zipline. The Golden Nugget is one of the most renowned casinos of Fremont Street. There, you will find one of the biggest golden nuggets on Earth, weighing 28 kilos.

Travel responsibly in the Grand Canyon

I enjoy finishing my articles with eco-tourism advice. I did it for Arches National Park, Sequoia National Park, Bali, Yosemite, Madeira, Adirondacks, Antelope Canyon, Uluru, Death Valley, La Salar de Uyuni Tour, and the Cathedrals Beach. Indeed, such places must be preserved. Please travel responsibly and make sure you keep this place as beautiful as it currently is.

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