One of America’s most iconic National Parks celebrates its 100 years as a National Park. These deep rust-colored rocks carved by an ancient river now adorn countless bucket-lists with 6 million visitors a year.
Signed into being the 15th National Park by Woodrow Wilson on February 26, 1919, the Grand Canyon is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World.
Despite this, the Grand Canyon continues to face threats. Proposed dams in the 1960’s risked flooding monuments of the park including Redwall Canyon. These dams would have changed the path of the Colorado river, the original architect of Grand Canyon, into a series of reservoirs. Last year, the Navajo Nation Council voted against the Grand Canyon Escalade, a proposed entertainment complex, which would have brought thousands of visitors to the confluence of the Colorado and Little Colorado Rivers. The confluence is a sacred site for the Navajo and the Escalade project would have forever changed the geography.
Today, uranium mines threaten the water supply of animal and plant life in the National Park. While resort development could alter the sense of wilderness and natural beauty of the canyon.
Theodore Roosevelt was one of the Grand Canyon’s biggest advocates and, under his presidency, made the first official protection of the area. He once stated:
In the Grand Canyon, Arizona has a natural wonder which is in kind absolutely unparalleled throughout the rest of the world. I want to ask you to keep this great wonder of nature as it now is. I hope you will not have a building of any kind, not a summer cottage, a hotel or anything else, to mar the wonderful grandeur, the sublimity, the great loneliness and beauty of the canyon. Leave it as it is. You cannot improve on it. The ages have been at work on it, and man can only mar it.
Let us remember this advice and celebrate the Grand Canyon for all that it remains. Visit this and other famous National Parks in the Canyons of the American Southwest Adventure with Nat Hab and feel good about your impact.