The Grand Canyon From 34,000 Feet

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The Grand Canyon from a flight at 34,000 feet. Photographed 02/02/2016 above Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona.

The other day I was on a flight from Phoenix Sky Harbor to Spokane International Airport, traveling at an altitude of about 34,000 feet (10363 m). Knowing the plane would pass over Grand Canyon National Park I had my camera ready. Although the skies were filled with clouds most of the way, they were clear when it mattered and I was not disappointed with the view. At 277 miles (446 km) in length, 18 miles (29 km) in width, and 6000 feet (1829 m) in maximum depth, it is hard to miss this massive natural wonder when traveling north out of Arizona.

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The Grand Canyon from a flight at 34,000 feet. Photographed 02/02/2016 above Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona.

I have seen the Grand Canyon a few times, always from the eastern reaches of the South Rim between Desert View and Grand Canyon Village. Based upon the flight path and topographic features, I could tell this flyover instead featured the central part of the canyon. This section is unreachable by car so it was kind of cool to see something from the air that I may never see up close. The first views included Great Thumb Mesa in the foreground, with SB Canyon mid-field and Tuckup Canyon in the distance:

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The Grand Canyon from a flight at 34,000 feet. Photographed 02/02/2016 above Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona.

Moving north we followed Kanab Canyon. In the foreground below you can see the snow-covered North Rim decorated by green pines and junipers. Just below that is the steep, resistant brown rim of the Kaibab and Toroweap limestones, followed by the bright white Coconino Sandstone. Just below that is the soft Hermit Shale, the alternating sandstones, limestones, and shales of the Supai Group, the steep Redwall and Muav Limestones, and the soft sloping Bright Angel Shale. Together this small section of the Grand Canyon represents sediment deposition throughout the Paleozoic Period from about 540 to 250 million years ago. Along its entire vertical range from the Colorado River to the rim, the Grand Canyon exposes rocks from two billion years of earth history.

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The Grand Canyon from a flight at 34,000 feet. Photographed 02/02/2016 above Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona.

When President Theodore Roosevelt dedicated Grand Canyon National Monument in 1908, he called it “the one great sight which every American should see.” At that time he probably could not imagine Americans would one day see it from an altitude of 34,000 feet. Or that it would become one of America’s most-loved national parks.

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The Grand Canyon from a flight at 34,000 feet. Photographed 02/02/2016 above Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona.

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About Jeremy Sell

Science and nature nerd.
This entry was posted in General, Geology, National Parks and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to The Grand Canyon From 34,000 Feet

  1. Miriam says:

    Awesome shots from above.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Mike Powell says:

    Amazing shots, Jeremy. I’ve had the pleasure of hiking down into the Grand Canyon a couple of times, but I have never seen it like this. Awesome is a word that is often overused–it certainly fits here.

    Like

  3. mvbattelle says:

    Great shots from above. The Grand Canyon truly is a special place. Having been to the south rim numerous times and once to the North Rim, it is still a “go back to” place. Thanks for sharing.

    Like

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