Grand Canyon National Park turned 100 today. Photos show its stunning history and evolution.
Marco Gabbin/ClickAlps/REDA&CO/UIG/Getty Images
A tourist gazes at the Grand Canyon.
- February 26 marks the 100th anniversary of the Grand Canyon National Park, one of the seven natural wonders of the world.
- The history of the land dates back millions of years.
- Explorers once thought the canyon was dangerous and inhabitable.
- Now its ecosystem is being threatened by a nearby dam.
Grand Canyon National Park celebrates its 100th anniversary on February 26, but the history of the land dates back millions of years.
Long before the canyon was considered a national treasure, it hosted indigenous ancestral populations, followed by small groups of explorers who struggled to navigate the terrain.
Read more: The Grand Canyon is one of the 7 natural wonders of the world. Here are 13 things you might not know about it.
It wasn't until a 1869 expedition that Americans realized explorers could travel the entire canyon - which stretches nearly 230 miles - and live to tell the tale.
More than a century later, the canyon is considered one of the seven natural wonders of the world.
Take a look at its long and fascinating history.
Scientists have debated over when the Grand Canyon first formed, but the general consensus is 5 to 6 million years ago.
The first humans to pass through the Grand Canyon likely did so around 12,000 years ago.
Spanish explorers stumbled on the Grand Canyon in the 1540s while searching for the legendary "Seven Cities of Gold," which were said to contain infinite riches.
A few travelers visited the canyon over the next 100 years, but the first scientific expedition didn't take place until 1869.
Benjamin Harrison tried to make the Grand Canyon a national park in 1882.
The completion of the Grand Canyon Railway in 1901 brought tourists to the region.
After two defeated bills, the Grand Canyon became a national park in 1919.
The US Bureau of Reclamation wanted to build a staircase of reservoirs through the canyon in the late 1960s.
The US Department of the Interior plans to routinely flood the Grand Canyon through 2020.