Canyon History

“This landscape has been shaped by ideas, words, images, and experiences. Instead of faults, rivers, and mass wasting, the processes at work involved geopolitical upheavals and the swell of empires, the flow of art, literature, science, and philosophy, the chisel of mind against matter. These determined the shape of Canyon meaning.”Stephen Pyne, How the Canyon Became Grand
On May 24, 1869, Major John Wesley Powell, his brother Walter, and eight mountain men launched boats into Green River, Wyoming Territory, on a historic quest to travel down the Green and then the Colorado River and through Grand Canyon. Though they were the first EuroAmericans inside the canyon, Powell found ample evidence that humans had lived there for centuries.



CAPTURING THE ESSENCE This 1908 painting, “Grand Canyon of the Colorado,” by renowned landscape artist Thomas Moran, is one of many paintings by many artists from around the world who have tried to capture the grandeur of the view from the canyon’s edge. Photo: Courtesy Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Online Catalog.


Photo: National Park Service

Colorado River

Photo: Patricia Biggs

Native Cultures

The Archaic people were semi-nomadic, living in small groups and moving with the seasons up and down the canyon levels. They collected wild fruits and seeds, hunted bighorn sheep and deer by following the...

Photo: National Park Service


Photo: GRCA #22323, Fred Harvey Collection

Visual Arts

A Visual Experience     Over time, images of the Grand Canyon have been widely circulated and viewed by tens of millions of people. Although this national park now includes over 2.2 million acres...