The Grand Canyon Is 100 Years Old. Take a Look at Its History in Photos

February 26, 2019, 11:00 AM UTC
An unidentified ranger at the Grand Cany
An unidentified ranger at the Grand Canyon National Park giving a tour. (Photo by Frank Scherschel/The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images)
Frank Scherschel—The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images

The Grand Canyon is celebrating a big milestone this year, as it is officially 100 years old.

On Feb. 26, 1919, Congress passed legislation backed by President Woodrow Wilson recognizing the canyon as a national park. The natural wonder has become an American symbol and a space for visitors to connect with the raw outdoors. The scenic landscape holds both the heritage and culture of America’s first people and a collection of unique historical and geological records.

The canyon, primarily carved by the Colorado River over the past 6 million years, stretches 277 miles through the Arizona desert. The 1,904-square-mile park draws 6 million tourists a year exploring the river rapids, the hiking trails, and its incredible geological and cultural history.

Tourists, geological researchers, and photographers alike go to experience the UNESCO World Heritage Site—that includes renowned landscape photographer Ansel Adams who helped fuel the environmental movement and helped convince government officials to take land preservation seriously.

The National Park Service is hosting a Founder’s Day Centennial Celebration with cultural demonstrators from traditional tribes, a concert by Flagstaff School District Choir, and speeches from the park’s staff.

Check out the gallery above to see a glimpse inside the rich 100-year history of the Grand Canyon.