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   January 11th 2008


The place President Theodore Roosevelt called "the one great site every American should see" became a national monument 100 years ago today.

"In the Grand Canyon," Roosevelt said, "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."

But hotels were built. And automobiles and Marvelous Marv arrived!
      

                                                                                                                       

Because the Grand Canyon is the only natural wonder of the world located in the continental United States, it is an intriguing international travel destination. Grand Canyon National Park is a World Heritage Site administered under the auspices of the United Nations and regulated by the U.S. Department of Interior under the jurisdiction of the National Park Service. Over-regulation has fostered the development of traffic patterns and transportation systems purportedly designed to efficiently accommodate the annual visitor population of five million.                          Currently 24 overcrowded shuttle busses operate in the park and transport the public within a eight square mile administrative area (the village loop and the Canyon View Information Plaza also known as the new visitor's center) with two additional routes serving the popular Hermit Road (9 mile scenic route one way) and Yaki Point (4 miles one way to the head of Kaibab trail, a canyon corridor hiking trail). Most day visitors travel by private vehicle (embarking on a parking experience rather than a park experience) or they buy a ticket for what they expect to be a ride on a historic train from Williams through the Kaibab National Forest along the plateau to the rim of the canyon (however the historic steam engine is used only from May to October, thereafter it is diesel season, and at best, the 60 mile train trip lasts three hours at 27 miles per hour) . These factors leave most visitors confused, bewildered, unhappy and frustrated. Forward thinking guests of the Grand Canyon book a private tour with me . My guests are entertained with facts and figures concerning the Grand Canyon touching on cultural history, physical history, geology, anthropology, biology (flora and fauna), biodiversity and more, all combined with a unique brand of western humor that only  I can wield. As my guest, you will ride in a clean, luxury, 12-passenger vans equipped with public address system, air conditioning, video  as I, whose 40 years as a resident and business man of the Williams-Grand Canyon area, provide insight into the political system controlling our national parks as well as a spiritualism incumbent upon those who love and respect the grandeur of the Canyon. My Mission is to educate and inform my guests of the wonders of this national treasure and to enlist the support of others concerned with protecting our national heritage.  I'm the 'non political correct' tour and do everything myself.

All of this for a nominal fee which entails a full day of touring, talking, educating, question and answer period, lunch at the Canyon Cafe, a full service cafeteria with no tipping required (lunch is on your own but I do accompany  you - I seldom leave the tour group except to park the vehicle in little known parking areas and to pick you up at convenient pre-designated spots so you never get lost). There is a shopping opportunity at the Village on the South Rim and for those who wish, a short hiking excursion along the rim trail or into the canyon a short distance along the Bright Angel Trail as weather and the press of visitor population permits. The altitude (7000 feet) and the dry climate can be daunting to those guests from sea level however, I  watch out for your well-being, taking special precautions for the accompanied mentally and physically impaired guest, the young, and the elderly ( please note that we are  not handicapped accessible although seeing eye-dogs are allowed and ultimately one is responsible for one's own safety). After a full day on tour the guest is soothed via audio cassette with native American flute music inspired by the sights and sounds of the canyon, or video entertainment  during the van ride back to the point of departure in Williams or Tusayan, Arizona.

A little known fact about the Grand Canyon...

The average stay in the Park by the average tourist is four hrs.   The average time the average tourist looks at the Grand Canyon is only 17 minutes!  I DO NOT recommend the train ride to the Grand Canyon from Williams!   The Railway just sold to corporate interest  and will change drastically in the near future!  Corporate taking over from private ownership.  The train is just transportation and not the way to 'experience' the Grand Canyon.  I do not recommend the Skywalk of West Grand Canyon.  Full details on that has recently been posted on my Policies and Politics page.

Truly see and learn about the Grand Canyon with me and not just look over the edge!!       Avoid what you see below going with me!

                                           

                                                                  

Here is just a small portion of what you will learn with me while on tour...

WASHINGTON -- Gazing into the majestic Grand Canyon, awe-struck visitors inevitably ask: "How old is it?"

Far older than generally thought, says new evidence that scientists culled from caves lining the canyon's red limestone cliffs. The Grand Canyon often is referred to as about 6 million years old -- but its western half actually began to open at least 17 million years ago, a University of New Mexico team reports Friday in the journal Science.

Wait: The western side of the canyon is the downstream end of the Colorado River, so how could it be older than the arguably more spectacular eastern side?

Remember, geologists caution, that the Grand Canyon was carved from drainage systems that didn't turn into the single river we now know as the Colorado until roughly 6 million years ago. The new research suggests two canyons formed that eventually joined. And it makes sense that the older side would even look different, less jagged, thanks to more years of gravity and wind erosion to soften its edges.

"This is really exciting for those of us who work in the stories and theories of how the Grand Canyon has evolved," Arizona geologist Wayne Ranney, author of "Carving the Grand Canyon," said of the new work. "This paper helps us to more clearly understand that different parts of the canyon formed at different times. That's how big the Grand Canyon is."

How and when the Grand Canyon formed has been a question of both geologists and average visitors since John Wesley Powell's famous first expedition in 1869.

Dating the canyon's carving has been difficult because it has largely depended on evidence from exposed rock and mineral deposits that themselves erode over time.

The University of New Mexico team tried a new technique: Testing formations inside the numerous caves that line the Grand Canyon -- protected formations less susceptible to erosion -- that form at the water table. So cave specialist Carol Hill said they should provide a record of how the water table dropped over time as the canyon was cut deeper and deeper.

First Hill and colleagues made the grueling climbs to cull the formations from caves in 10 different spots along the length of the Grand Canyon. Then came work in specialized labs to pin down the age of each formation, using a method called uranium-lead isotope testing.

The findings: The western side of what is now the Grand Canyon started forming about 17 million years ago, and that initial erosion was fairly slow and steady -- a couple of inches every thousand years.

The canyon formed not just downward and westward but it opened steadily to the east, too, through what geologists call "headward erosion," the team reports -- until the western side cut through enough rock to meet water on the eastern side, around 5 to 6 million years ago.

Then the action really started, with the eastern side of the canyon being cut at a rate of about 8 inches to almost a foot every thousand years, they report.

Why the speedup? The new research can't say exactly, but Ranney notes that land mass was shifting around a lot during this period, too, heaving some sections of rock and lowering others. The Hurricane and Toroweap faults in the western Grand Canyon dropped enough to essentially form a waterfall, speeding water flow enough that the eastern side was being ripped as the river plunged to the west, he explained.

While geologists point to some questions in the new research, overall it does fit with various theories about how the Grand Canyon formed, said Rebecca Fowler of the University of Colorado, Boulder, who also studies the Grand Canyon.

"All of it is pointing toward a pretty complex history of Grand Canyon development, which is one of the reas

ns this area has been so controversial," she said. "It's a pretty complicated system and it's very likely that the entire Grand Canyon did not incise (cut) all at one time."

The Grand Canyon is a massive rift in the Colorado Plateau that exposes uplifted Proterozoic and Paleozoic strata and is also one of the six distinct physiographic sections of the Colorado Plateau province. The Grand Canyon is unmatched throughout the world for the vistas it offers to visitors on the rim. It is not the deepest canyon in the world - both the Cotahuasi Canyon (11598 feet or 3535 m), Colca Canyon (10499 feet or 3200 m), both in Arequipa, Peru and Hell's Canyon on the Oregon-Idaho border are deeper - but Grand Canyon is known for its overwhelming size and its intricate and colorful landscape. Geologically it is significant because of the thick sequence of ancient rocks that are beautifully preserved and exposed in the walls of the canyon. These rock layers record much of the early geologic history of the North American continent.Uplift associated with mountain building events later moved these sediments thousands of feet upward and created the Colorado Plateau. The higher elevation has also resulted in greater precipitation in the Colorado River drainage area, but not enough to change the Grand Canyon area from being semi-arid. The uplift of the Colorado Plateau is uneven, and the north-south trending Kaibab Plateau that Grand Canyon bisects is over a thousand feet higher at the North Rim (about 1,000 ft/300 m) than at the South Rim. The fact that the Colorado River flows in a curve around the higher North Rim part of the Kaibab Plateau and closer to the South Rim part of the plateau is also explained by this asymmetry. Ivo Lucchitta of the U.S. Geological Survey first suggested that, as the Colorado River developed before significant erosion of the region, it naturally found its way across or around the Kaibab Uplift by following a "racetrack" path to the south of the highest part of the plateau. Almost all runoff from the North Rim (which also gets more rain and snow) flows toward the Grand Canyon, while much of the runoff on the plateau behind the South Rim flows away from the canyon (following the general tilt). The result is deeper and longer tributary washes and canyons on the north side and shorter and steeper side canyons on the south side.Temperatures on the North Rim are generally lower than the South Rim because of the greater elevation (averaging 8,000 ft/2,438 m above sea level).[2] Heavy rains are common on both rims during the summer months. Access to the North Rim via the primary route leading to the canyon (Arizona State Route 67) is limited during the winter season due to road closures. Views from the North Rim tend to give a better impression of the expanse of the canyon than those from the South Rim. Main article: Geology of the Grand Canyon area

The principal consensus among geologists is that the Colorado River basin (of which the Grand Canyon is a part) has developed in the past 40 million years and that the Grand Canyon itself is probably less than five to six million years old (with most of the downcutting occurring in the last two million years). The result of all this erosion is one of the most complete geologic columns on the planet.
Looking down Bright Angel trail to the Grand Canyon. The green area is Indian Gardens and the trail continues to Phantom Ranch at the river where a suspension bridge allows access to the North Rim.
Looking down Bright Angel trail to the Grand Canyon. The green area is Indian Gardens and the trail continues to Phantom Ranch at the river where a suspension bridge allows access to the North Rim.

The major geologic exposures in Grand Canyon range in age from the 2 billion year old Vishnu Schist at the bottom of the Inner Gorge to the 230 million year old Kaibab Limestone on the Rim. Interestingly, there is a gap of about one billion years between the stratum that is about 500 million years old and the lower level, which is about 1.5 billion years old. That indicates a period of erosion between two periods of deposition.

Many of the formations were deposited in warm shallow seas, near-shore environments (such as beaches), and swamps as the seashore repeatedly advanced and retreated over the edge of a proto-North America. Major exceptions include the Permian Coconino Sandstone, which most (though not all)[3][4][5][6][7] geologists claim was laid down as sand dunes in a desert, and several parts of the Supai Group.

The great depth of the Grand Canyon and especially the height of its strata (most of which formed below sea level) can be attributed to 5,000 to 10,000 feet (1500 to 3000 m) of uplift of the Colorado Plateau, starting about 65 million years ago (during the Laramide Orogeny). This uplift has steepened the stream gradient of the Colorado River and its tributaries, which in turn has increased their speed and thus their ability to cut through rock (see the elevation summary of the Colorado River for present conditions).

Weather conditions during the ice ages also increased the amount of water in the Colorado River drainage system. The ancestral Colorado River responded by cutting its channel faster and deeper.

The base level and course of the Colorado River (or its ancestral equivalent) changed 5.3 million years ago when the Gulf of California opened and lowered the river's base level (its lowest point). This increased the rate of erosion and cut nearly all of the Grand Canyon's current depth by 1.2 million years ago. The terraced walls of the canyon were created by differential erosion.[8]

About one million years ago, volcanic activity (mostly near the western canyon area) deposited ash and lava over the area, which at times completely obstructed the river. These volcanic rocks are the youngest in the canyon.The Spanish explorers

In September 1540, under orders from the conquistador Francisco V zquez de Coronado to search for the fabled Seven Cities of Cibola, Captain Garcia Lopez de Cardenas, along with Hopi guides and a small group of Spanish soldiers, traveled to the South Rim of the Grand Canyon between Desert View and Moran Point. Pablo de Melgrossa, Juan Galeras, and a third soldier descended some one third of the way into the Canyon until they were forced to return because of lack of water. In their report, they noted that some of the rocks in the Canyon were "bigger than the great tower of Seville."[10] It is speculated that their Hopi guides must have been reluctant to lead them to the river, since they must have known routes to the canyon floor. Afterwards, no Europeans visited the Canyon for over two hundred years.

Fathers Francisco Atanasio Domnguez and Silvestre Vlez de Escalante were two Spanish Priests who, with a group of Spanish soldiers, explored southern Utah and traveled along the North Rim of the Canyon in Glen and Marble Canyons in search of a route from Santa Fe to California in 1776. They eventually found a crossing at present-day Lees Ferry.

Also in 1776, Fray Francisco Garces, a Franciscan missionary, spent a week near Havasupai, unsuccessfully attempting to convert a band of Indians. He described the Canyon as "profound".[10]
The United States government made the Grand Canyon a national park in 1919
The United States government made the Grand Canyon a national park in 1919

Jacob Hamblin (a Mormon missionary) was sent by Brigham Young in the 1850s to locate easy river crossing sites in the Canyon. Building good relations with local Native Americans and white settlers, he discovered Lee's Ferry in 1858 and Pierce Ferry (later operated by, and named for, Harrison Pierce) - the only two sites suitable for ferry operation.[citation needed] He also acted as an advisor to John Wesely Powell before his second expedition to the Grand Canyon, acting as a diplomat between Powell and the local native tribes to ensure the safety of his party.

In 1857, the U.S. War Department asked Lieutenant Joseph Ives to lead an expedition to assess the feasibility of an up-river navigation from the Gulf of California. Also in a stern wheeler steamboat "Explorer", after two months and 350 miles (560 km) of difficult navigation, his party reached Black Canyon some two months after George Johnson.[citation needed] The "Explorer" struck a rock and was abandoned. Ives led his party east into the Canyon - they were the first Europeans to travel the Diamond Creek drainage and traveled eastwards along the South Rim.Weather

Weather in the Grand Canyon varies according to elevation. The forested rims are high enough to receive winter snowfall, but along the Colorado River in the Inner Gorge, temperatures are similar to those found in Tucson and other low elevation desert locations in Arizona. Conditions in the Grand Canyon region are generally dry, but substantial precipitation occurs twice annually, during seasonal pattern shifts in winter (when Pacific storms usually deliver widespread, moderate rain and high-elevation snow to the region from the west) and in late summer (a phenomenon known as the "monsoon", which delivers waves of moisture from the southeast, causing dramatic, localized thunderstorms fueled by the heat of the day).[13] Average annual precipitation on the South Rim is less than 16 inches (35 cm), with 60 inches (132 cm) of snow, the higher North Rim usually receives 27 inches (59 cm) of moisture, with a typical snowfall of 144 inches (317 cm), and Phantom Ranch, far below the Canyon's rims along the Colorado River at 2,500 feet (762 m) gets just 8 inches (17.6 cm) of rain, and snow is a rarity.

Temperatures vary wildly throughout the year, with summer highs within the Inner Gorge commonly exceeding 100 F (37.8 C) and winter minimum temperatures sometimes falling below zero degrees Fahrenheit (-17.8 C) along the canyon's rims.[13] Visitors are often surprised by these potentially extreme conditions, and this, along with the high altitude of the canyon's rims, can lead to unpleasant side effects such as dehydration, sunburn, and hypothermia. Be prepared for a variety of potential weather conditions when visiting, and keep in mind the Grand Canyon is a rugged natural feature located in a remote area subject to a wide range of environmental hazards.

Weather conditions can greatly affect hiking and canyon exploration, and visitors should obtain accurate forecasts because of hazards posed by exposure to extreme temperatures, winter storms and late summer monsoons. While the park service posts weather information at gates and visitor centers, this is a rough approximation only, and should not be relied upon for trip planning. For accurate weather in the Canyon, hikers should consult the National Weather Service's NOAA weather radio or the official NWS website.

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