The Grand Canyon may be 5 million years old with a human history stretching back over 12 millennia, but it wasn’t until 1869—just 150 years ago—when U.S. Army Major John Henry Powell led the first expedition through the canyon on the Colorado River that the Grand Canyon was first recognized for the tourist mecca it would eventually become.
In fact, when Lt. Joseph Christmas Ives completed his 1858 steamboat expedition just 11 years earlier, he claimed that “the region is, of course, altogether valueless […] It seems intended by nature that the Colorado River, along the greater portion of its lonely and majestic way, shall be forever unvisited and undisturbed”.
Fast forward to February 26, 1919, when President Woodrow Wilson officially designated the Grand Canyon a national park. 100 years later, the Grand Canyon National Park welcomes over 6 million visitors each year, and the canyon’s lonely and majestic allure is as solid as rock. If only Lt. Joseph Christmas Ives could see the Grand Canyon now!