By the Numbers: Grand Canyon National Park

Mohave Point, Grand Canyon National Park. NPS photo by Michael Quinn.

Extraordinary parks tend to generate extraordinary numbers, and Grand Canyon National Park is no exception.

3,270,000,000,000

Tons of solid waste the Grand Canyon would hold if used as a landfill.

1,800,000,000

Approximate upper limit of age estimate (years BP) for the Vishnu Schist, the oldest rock formation exposed at the bottom of the Grand Canyon.

75,000,000

Boardings on the South Rim’s free shuttle bus system as of last year. The Park Service has offered the shuttle service since the 1970s to reduce traffic congestion and air pollution.

4,425,314

Recreational visits in 2008. Among the 58 National Park-designated NPS units, only Great Smoky Mountains National Park attracts more visitors.

28,000,000

Dollars raised for the park as of 2008 by the Grand Canyon Association (established 1932), the park’s official fund raising organization.

230,000

Visitors that arrived by train in 2007. That’s roughly one Grand Canyon visitor in twenty.

56,000

Scenic air tours recorded at Grand Canyon during 2008. During the peak season there are about 136 flights a day from Grand Canyon National Park Airport and Las Vegas. All flightseeing tours originate outside the park.

38,574
People who participated in backcountry trips in 2009. The park issued 13,616 backountry permits, of which 12,191 were actually used.

19,000

People who take trips through the Grand Canyon on the Colorado River each year.

6,500

Autos that enter the park on a typical summer day.

6,200

Bathtubs that could have been filled each second during a two-day period in 2004 when water releases from Lake Powell experimentally boosted the Colorado River’s flow to 18.5 million gallons per minute. Scientists wanted to learn more about erosion and sedimentation associated with flows akin to natural flooding.

4,460

Feet of elevation that Bright Angel Trail drops from the South Rim to the Colorado River near Phantom Ranch. That’s a 9.3-mile trek for humans and mules.

3,500

Staff and concession employees residing in Grand Canyon National Park during peak months. The park’s remote location rules out commuting for most employees.

1,904

Gross area of Grand Canyon National Park in square miles, including about 57 square miles of nonfederal holdings.

1,000

Cubic miles of empty space below the rim in the Grand Canyon.

500

Based on computer models used by David Haskell, the park’s former Science Center Director, this is the maximum height in feet of the wall of water that would surge through the Grand Canyon if the Glen Canyon Dam were ever to fail catastrophically.

300

Dollars that must be forked over to enter the park with a commercial tour bus hauling 26 or more passengers.

277

Miles of Colorado River corridor and adjacent uplands in Grand Canyon National Park extending from the southern terminus of Glen Canyon National Recreation Area to the eastern boundary of Lake Mead National Recreation.

189

Non-native plant species identified within Grand Canyon National Park as of early 2009. The NPS considered at least 82 of these alien plants to be “of serious concern.”

174

Price in dollars (plus tax) for the cheapest single-night stay at the park’s renowned El Tovar Hotel in 2009.

80

Approximate percentage of rescues in the park that involve heat-related illnesses, most of which are rooted in water loss and overexertion causing severe dehydration and sodium loss (hyponatremia).

18

Rim-to-rim distance in miles at the Grand Canyon’s widest point.