Quotes about the Grand Canyon

The Grand Canyon is carven deep by the master hand; it is the gulf of silence, widened in the desert; it is all time inscribing the naked rock; it is the book of earth. ~Donald Culross Peattie, The Road of a Naturalist, 1941

Truly, [Arizona] is a wonderland, and in the Grand Cañon one can think of nothing but the Abomination of Desolation. ~John G. Bourke, On the Border with Crook, 1891

The Grand Canyon is too grand for a steady diet. It is so overwhelmingly impressive that you can not continue indefinitely on that exalted emotional level. In the parlance of the connoisseur of paintings, the Canyon is a “museum-piece.” Let the beauty-lover beware of going anywhere else on earth! For the Zambesi, the Yellowstone, the fjords of Norway, Switzerland, the Rocky Mountains will by comparison all seem tame and colorless. There is only one way by which he can avoid a jarring anti-climax. That is to lay in a proper supply of oxygen and condensed foods and take airship for a tour of the chief Martian winter resorts. Yes, and there is one alternative: Let him take armchair for those wonderlands of the human imagination which alone are more sublimely fair than the irised mountain range that God inverted in the heart of Arizona. ~Robert Haven Schauffler, Romantic America, 1913 [a little altered –tg]

It is said that baseball is “only a game.” Yes, and the Grand Canyon is only a hole in Arizona. ~George F. Will, The Morning After: American Successes and Excesses, 1981–1986

      To describe the Grand Canyon is as impossible as it is unnecessary…. Its motionless unreality is one of the first and most powerful impressions it makes. And yet the Grand Canyon is really a motion picture. There is no moment that it does not change. Always its shadows are insensibly altering, disappearing here, appearing there…
      There is the Grand Canyon of the early morning, when the light slants lengthwise from the Painted Desert. The great capes of the northern rim shoot into the picture, outlined in golden light against which their shapes gloom in hazy blues. Certain temples seem to rise slowly from the depths, or to step forward from hiding places in the opposite walls. Down on the green floor the twisting inner gorge discloses here and there lengths of gleaming water, sunlit and yellow.
      An hour later all is wholly changed. The dark capes have retired somewhat and now are brilliant-hued and thoroughly defined. The temples of the dawn have become remodeled, and scores of others have emerged from the purple gloom…
      And so, from hour to hour, the spectacle develops…. as afternoon progresses the spectacles of the morning creep back, now reversed and strangely altered in outline. It is a new Grand Canyon, the same but wonderfully different.
      And just after sunset the reds deepen to dim purples and the grays and yellows and greens change to magical blues. In the dark of a moonless night the canyon suggests unimaginable mysteries. ~National Park Service, Rules and Regulations: Grand Canyon National Park, 1920

The extent and magnitude of the system of cañons is astounding. The plateau is cut into shreds by these gigantic chasms, and resembles a vast ruin. Belts of country, miles in width, have been swept away, leaving only isolated mountains standing in the gap—fissures, so profound that the eye cannot penetrate their depths, are separated by walls whose thickness one can almost span, and slender spires, that seem to be tottering upon their base, shoot up a thousand feet from vaults below…. The region is, of course, altogether valueless. 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. ~Joseph Christmas Ives, Report upon the Colorado River of the West; Explored in 1857 and 1858  [Grand Canyon prophecy fail –tg]