Grand Canyon Rock Formations

You cannot find a more comprehensive geologic history of Grand Canyon rock formations than you can on a Grand Canyon bus tour. While some rock units only appear in certain parts of the canyon, other rocks are scattered throughout the area.

Each layer of rock represents a time when a specific environment of deposition took place. For example, the Kaibab formation creates the rims of the canyon and represents the youngest of canyon layers. This formation developed in the warm and shallow seas that enveloped the area around 270 million years ago. Reportedly, this development took place even before dinosaurs roamed through the locale and made it a habitat. Below the caprock of the formation, the strata become progressively older.

The oldest Grand Canyon rock lie about 3,000 feet, or 900 meters below the canyon’s rim inside the Inner Gorge.

The Grand Canyon Trail of Time

Called Vishnu basement rocks, these metamorphic rock formations combined with igneous materials, and formed deep within the earth. Representing granite, gneiss, and schists, these crystalline creations are much different in origin and appearance than the sedimentary rocks that lie overhead. Vishnu basement rocks, which include the Vishnu schist, are about 1,700 to 1,800 million years old.

You can learn more about the geology of the canyon and Vishnu rocks when you visit the interpretive and geological display at the Trail of Time. This interesting path can be found at the South Rim, and can be reached easily by shuttle.  Part of the 13-mile long Rim Trail, the display path is about 1.7 miles long.

How Grand Canyon Rock Formations Came To Be

While the origin of the Grand Canyon is complicated and not totally understood, the forces that have shaped this chasm are well-noted and recognized. The Grand Canyon rock formations we know today came about as the result of water erosion and is the proud carving of the Colorado River.

The waters that cut through this high and dry plateau ended their journey at Kaibab Plateau – a table that is 7,000 feet or 2,100 meters above sea level. Side canyons make up most of the Grand Canyon’s approximately 15-mile width – the work of snowmelt and downpours. These forces have made the canyon a sculpture of shadow and light and a place of mystery and beauty.

Book Your Tour Today

You can discover more about Grand Canyon rock for yourself by taking a Grand Canyon tour from Las Vegas to the South Rim or West Rim. If you are seeing the canyon for the first time, plan to take one of the Grand Canyon South Rims tours hosted by a local provider, such as Grand Canyon Destinations. The South Rim features visitor centers and geologic information that will help you discover the history and impact of this natural wonder of the world.

About the Author

Kyle Gooverton

Kyle Gooverton

A Grand Canyon enthusiast! A local Las Vegas resident that loves the flora and the fauna of all things Southwest.