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The Grand Canyon

WILD NATURAL BEAUTY

The Grand Canyon is an enormous gorge in the state of Arizona. It is 277 miles (450 km) in length, up to 18 miles (29 km) wide and more than a mile (1.6 km) deep in places.

Mother Earth

Geologists believe that the Grand Canyon formed 80 million years ago, but some of its rock layers could be two billion years old: the Earth itself is four billion years old. It contains the fossils of many prehistoric animals. For thousands of years Native Americans lived in the canyon's caves, and considered it a holy place. Then, in 1540, García López de Cárdenas from Spain became the first European to see the canyon and tell his people about it.

Mother Nature

Today the Grand Canyon is a major tourist attraction. People travel from all over the world to see it. Most of them enter the canyon at the South Rim, to explore it by foot, bus and helicopter. You can hike along the edge of the canyon and look down at the valley, thousands of feet (or metres) below. Then travel down into the valley by foot, in a helicopter or on the back of a mule.

The Great Outdoors

Ride along the Colorado River on a raft. Walk out over the canyon on the Skywalk, a glass walkwav that will make you feel like you're walking on air. Visit the village where the Native American Havasupai Indians still live, to learn about their culture. Then ride across the canyon in a horse-drawn carriage to watch the sunset. You can even sleep at one of the canyon's camping sites.

Be Careful

The Grand Canyon is beautiful but it is also dangerous. It can be really hot or cold there, from around -20°C in the winter to 40°C in the summer. In the past 150 years about 600 people have died in the Grand Canyon. Almost half of them died in airplane or helicopter crashes. Many others drowned in the Colorado River, or died from a fall, heat stroke or dehydration.

Marathon

Of course, all of these dangers make the Grand Canyon a great place for people to prove how fit and strong they are. Every year, many people hike from one side of the canyon to the other. And hundreds compete in the Grand Canyon Ultra Marathon. They travel 78 miles (125 kilometres) across the canyon in 24 hours. That's a grand achievement at the Grand Canyon!

GLOSSARY

ACHIEVEMENT: realização, façanha

BILLION: mil milhões

BY FOOT: a pé

DEEP: profundo

EDGE: bordo

FIT: em forma

GORGE: desfiladeiro

GLASS WALKWAY: passagem em vidro

HEATSTROKE: insolação

HOLY PLACE: lugar santo

HORSE-DRAWN CARRIAGE: carruagem puxada por cavalos

IN PLACES: em algumas zonas

LAYER: camada

RAFT: jangada

STRONG: forte

SUNSET: pôr do sol

TO DROWN: afogar-se

TO HIKE: caminhar

TO RIDE ALONG: navegar por

WIDE: largura

Source: Speak Up, n.º 348.

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