|Spending three days in the beautiful Grand Canyon is an awe-inspiring sight to behold. From depths of over 5000 feet, 277 miles in length, and up to 18 miles wide, there is more than the eye can take in. The South Rim is over 7000 feet in elevation and the North Rim is approximately 1000 feet higher. The temperatures vary 25-30 degrees warmer in the bottom of the canyon than on the rim and are at least 10 degrees cooler on the North Rim than on the South Rim. The North Rim is closed in the winter due to heavy snow falls and this year received over 20 feet of snow while the South Rim is open year around and often in the winter is briefly blanketed with snow. The wettest months on the South Rim are July and August when heavy monsoon type rains hit in the late afternoon. The North Rim gets 25 inches of precipitation per year while the South Rim only gets 15 inches and the bottom of the Canyon only gets 8 inches. The Canyon started to form nearly 2 billion years ago with land masses colliding and drifting apart, mountains forming and eroding away, sea levels rising and falling, and the relentless forces of moving water and wind. Five to six million years ago the Colorado River flowed across the Colorado Plateau on its way from the Rocky Mountains to the Gulf of California. While the Colorado River was wider back then than it is now, it did not create the width of the Canyon. Erosion from water and wind have continued to shape the canyon. Sedimentary rocks which are soft have given way to the river to make the canyon deeper, although the canyon itself is older than the river. Of the 277 mile long canyon only 35 miles of it are approachable by vehicle, including a new route which is an additional 7 miles to the west and can only be seen by shuttle bus, hiking, rafting, and helicopter tours. The east end of the Canyon is called desert view which is where the canyon begins and you can see both the North and South Rims as well as the East Rim. While in the area we also visited the Tusayan Ruin, on the east edge of the park which was inhabited by the Paleo-Indians more than 10,000 years ago. The round ruin structure you see is called a Kiva and is where all of their ceremonies were held. Upon leaving the Grand Canyon we drove along the north end of the Painted Desert and the Little Colorado River Gorge.The Little Colorado flows north from central Arizona and joins the Colorado River where the Grand Canyon begins. We found it odd that the river was named the Little Colorado since it does not originate in the Rocky Mountains in the state of Colorado but was named this by early Spanish explorers. It makes one wonder if in another 6 million years if the Little Colorado will help shape another Grand Canyon!