Grand Canyon National Park

Center for the State of the Parks: Park Assessments

Published August 2010

View Full Report
(PDF,11.78 MB, 84 pages)

View Appendix
(PDF,650 KB, 2 pages)

View Fact Sheet
(PDF, 144 KB, 2 pages)

Grand Canyon National Park is an American icon, one of the nation’s best known and most popular destinations among both domestic and international travelers. More that 4.5 million people visit the park each year to hike, float rafts down the Colorado River, ride mules to the canyon’s bottom, participate in ranger-led tours, and more. Exceeding 1.2 million acres in size, Grand Canyon National Park encompasses the canyon, which was cut over millennia by the waters of the Colorado River, and parts of the north and south plateaus along 277 miles of river.

In acknowledgment of Grand Canyon National Park’s significance to America’s national heritage and to the global community, the National Parks Conservation Association’s Center for State of the Parks evaluated resource-related challenges and opportunities currently facing the park.

NPCA found that despite the park’s iconic status, diverse natural and cultural resources, and abundant recreational opportunities, the park suffers from many challenges that complicate resource protection and management:

  • Current Colorado River management actions do not incorporate adaptive strategies for protecting and restoring native animals, natural habitats, and cultural resources along the river corridor.
  • Mines could be developed on lands adjacent to the park, potentially contaminating watersheds and the surrounding environment. In addition, historic mining activities have resulted in environmental contamination in parts of the park.
  • Sound pollution from scenic and commercial air plane overflights in the park is a major concern.
  • Air pollution from miles away has the potential to obscure scenic vistas, harm human health, and damage park resources.
  • Resource protection and visitor services are impacted by a lack of sufficient annual operating funds.

Read NPCA’s full report, Grand Canyon National Park: Resource Challenges and Future Directions, to find out more about these and other issues facing the park. Also included in the report are NPCA’s recommendations for actions that should be taken to protect park resources.


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