The still, rocky landscape of the Grand Canyon stands in stark contrast to the turbulence of an overcast sky.
The Grand Canyon is a massive gorge cut through sandstone, limestone, shale and rock over millions of years by the Colorado River. The canyon extends for 277 miles (446km), is approximately a mile deep and ranges in width from 1 to 18miles (29km). The variations in elevation create several different climate zones and the environment supports multiple ecosystems and a wide variety of wildlife.
Located in northern Arizona, the geologic feature runs through Grand Canyon National Park. The expedition of Francisco Vasquez de Coronado included the first Europeans to see the canyon in 1540. Geologist John Wesley Powell gave the Grand Canyon its name in 1869. Despite the barren environment, the canyon is a major travel destination and landmark. The spectacular vistas have become an icon of the pioneer settlers, cowboys and Native Americans of the 19th century Wild West.