“It can be approached only from the south, and after entering it there is nothing to do but leave. Ours has been the first, and will doubtless be the last, party of whites to visit this profitless locality. 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.”

Ah, U.S. Army Lt. Joseph Ives, how wrong you were. How utterly, unbelievably wrong. He wrote those words in 1857 during a survey of the Colorado river system. To be fair, he did also describe the Grand Canyon’s depth and spiderweb of canyons with a kind of awe. But at the time, it was inconceivable to many that people would flock to the place.

This video is part of Aistream’s Portable Parks series on national parks, a digital trip to places that have been closed this spring. It’s as close as you can get to the canyon without teetering over the edge and cartwheeling to the river below.

Photo: NPS


By the way, have you ever read The Exploration of the Colorado River and Its Canyons, by John Wesley Powell? It’s stunning. Powell floated the Colorado through the canyon, was the first European American, if not human being, to have done so, and his writing about what he saw is the best kind of travel writing.


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