Last Updated on December 1, 2021
Approximately 5 to 6 million years ago, the Colorado River began cutting a channel through layers of rock and began forming the Grand Canyon in a process that continues today.
The Grand Canyon is so magnicifant it almost seems to diminish it to talk about what state it’s located in. It existed long before the state lines were drawn up and it will outlast them all too.
But that’s why you’re here so let’s do it anyway.
Where Is The Grand Canyon Located?
The Grand Canyon lies in only one state, Arizona. More specifically it’s in northern Arizona.
The South Rim is the most visited part of the Grand Canyon, and Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport is the closest major international airport to it.
The Colorado River goes through 7 states: Wyoming, Colorado, Utah, New Mexico, Nevada, Arizona, and California. So the river valley that the Grand Canyon is part of goes through those 7 states.
But the Grand Canyon National Park is only in Arizona and that’s the part of the Colorago River valley that people most often refer to as the Grand Canyon.
You can’t really separate the Grand Canyon out from the river that makes it. Any lines drawn will be somewhat arbritary.
Arizona became a state in 1912, so the Grand Canyon has only been in Arizona for a little over a century.
That’s a blink of an eye in geological timescales.
Native Americans inhabited what is now Arizona for thousands of years.
And humans have been living near the Grand Canyon for 13,000 years and labeling the area with different names.
But they are just words, and even 13,000 years isn’t very long when you consider the 5 or 6 million years that the Grand Canyon has been doing its thing.
Where Does The Grand Canyon Start?
Nature isn’t divided up into neat little boxes. Only humans apply the boxes and the labels, and we don’t always agree where the lines are drawn.
The Colorado River begins in the Rocky Mountains runs all the way to the Gulf of California where it runs into the ocean.
There the water evaporates off the sea to form clouds. The clouds drift up to the Rocky Mountains and rain down into the streams and rivers. It’s a cycle, and the Grand Canyon that the Colorado river cuts into the landscape is part of that entire cycle.
The part we call the Grand Canyon is usually measured in river miles along the Colorado River at the bottom of the canyon. According to that standard, the Grand Canyon is 277 miles long and it begins at Lees Ferry just south of the Utah-Arizona line.
Where Does The Grand Canyon End?
The Grand Canyon ends at Grand Wash Cliffs, Arizona, near the Nevada state line.
The Skywalk, mangaged by the Hualapai Tribe is the most famous tourist attaction at Grand Canyon West and it’s 11 miles away from the western end of the Grand Canyon.
Is The Grand Canyon In Nevada?
No. The Grand Canyon is not in Nevada, it’s entirely in Arizona. A lot of people associate the Grand Canyon with Nevada since it’s only a two and half hour drive from the Vegas Strip. The Grand Canyon ends at the Grand Wash Cliffs which are 8 miles away from the Nevada-Arizona state line.
You could say that Nevada borders the western end of the Grand Canyon but doesn’t touch. Nevada isn’t far away from the western end of the national park.
Is The Grand Canyon In Colorado?
No. The Grand Canyon was created as erosion from the Colorado River cut a deep channel through layers of rock. But the Colorado River runs through Arizona at the point where the big gorge was formed.
Is The Grand Canyon In California?
No. While the Colorado River runs all the way to California the Grand Canyon is only in Arizona.
Is The Grand Canyon In Utah?
No, the Grand Canyon is not in Utah. The Grand Canyon begins in at Lees Ferry which is 9 miles (14 km) south of the Utah–Arizona state line.
You could say that Utah borders the north east end of the Grand Canyon but doesn’t touch. Utah isn’t far away from the start and the exact start of the canyon is a fuzzy notion anyway.
The Grand Canyon is in Arizona. For now.
Think about it for a moment.
How can it be that something that was created 5 or 6 million years ago happens to begin 9 miles south of the Utah-Arizona state line and end 10 miles east of the Nevada-Arizona state line.
Doesn’t that stike you as odd?
Natural features like canyons don’t fit into neat little boxes. Nature doesn’t errect signs saying ‘Here begins the Grand Canyon’.
It’s much better to realize that ‘Arizona’ is just a momentary tag we are applying and ‘the Grand Canyon’ is also just tag for part of the entire network of canyons created by the Colorado river.
The Grand Canyon has only been ‘in’ Arizona for a blink of an eye and it will exist long after the area has been renamed by our decendents.