It has been noted that human presence in the Grand Canyon started around 1,000 BC. Archaeologists have dug up and found evidence of archaic desert people living within the area, just before the Pueblo Indians occupied the Grand Canyon at around 500 AD. A different tribe, called the Anasazi lived inside the canyons with archaeological remains to show for it. These evidences can be located on the rock walls of the canyon.

It wasn’t until the 1500s that the Grand Canyon was discovered by the Europeans. The first visitors in the Grand Canyon were the Spaniards in 1540. True and earnest exploration of the Grand Canyon didn’t start until the 1880s, this time done by American explorers. Two years after the exploration period, it was petitioned that the Grand Canyon should become a National Park. The realization came many, many decades later, amidst false starts, setbacks and delays, but the Grand Canyon was finally acknowledged as a true national park.

The very first bill to include the Grand Canyon as a national park came in 1882 via late senator Benjamin Harrison. If it would have been approved, then Grand Canyon will have been called the second national park in the U.S, right after Yellowstone Park. But alas, it wasn’t mean to be. Senator Harrison tried again during the years 1883 and 1886, but to no avail. When Benjamin Harrison was finally elected the President in 1893, he built the Grand Canyon Forest Reserve.

President Theodore Roosevelt’s Visit to The Grand Canyon

President Theodore Roosevelt Delivering Speech at the Grand Canyon National Park, in Arizona Photo
President Theodore Roosevelt Delivering Speech at the Grand Canyon National Park, in Arizona.
(Photo: Doris A. and Lawrence H. Budner Theodore Roosevelt Collection, DeGolyer Library, Southern Methodist University)

President Theodore Roosevelt visited the Grand Canyon in the year 1903. Many would think that Roosevelt would immediately pass the bill as he was a strong supporter of land being used for public good. Surprisingly, the Grand Canyon wasn’t included in the designation after the visit.

The Grand Canyon Game Preserve was established by President Theodore Roosevelt in the November 28 1906 proclamation. The Grand Canyon National Monument followed shortly after, in 1908. Senate bills were being created to make the Grand Canyon a national park, notably in years 1910 and 1911 before the dream finally came true in 1919. President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed the Grand Canyon a national park in the Grand Canyon National Park Act, which held a total of more than 44,000 visitations. The National Park Service then assumed administration of the Grand Canyon in the proceedings.

The designation of the Grand Canyon was a huge success in the eyes of conservation movement. The status itself may have helped prevent damming of the Colorado River in its boundaries. In the latter part, the Glen Canyon Dam eventually was built upriver. The Marble Canyon Monument was established as part of the Grand Canyon National Park in 1975, following the same ruling for the northeastern part of the Colorado River up to Lee’s Ferry to become part of the Grand Canyon National Park. UNESCO proclaimed Grand Canyon a World Heritage Site in 1979.

Grand Canyon National Park was honored with its very own coin in 2010 under the America Beautiful Quarters campaign.

The Present Grand Canyon

Fast forward to today, and the Grand Canyon National Park is a renowned tourist attraction and a beautiful reserve. What would have happened if the Grand Canyon wasn’t designated as a national park then? It wouldn’t have been fully preserved. The status itself had benefits such as preventing the damming and other civil works within the vicinity. Moreover, it allowed the stationing of park rangers and development of public facilities such as observation areas and walkways for visitors to the site.

The Grand Canyon National Park is a unique tourist attraction like no other. Visitors will be in for an awesome treat. They will be treated to an experience that can’t be copied anywhere else in the world.