No one knows for sure just when the Grand Canyon formed, but its status as a national treasure was set in stone just over a century ago, thanks to President Teddy Roosevelt.
Roosevelt made environmental conservation a national priority during his presidency. He also had no time for miles of red tape and bureaucratic incompetence. So 106 years ago this Saturday, instead of looking to Congress to grant the Grand Canyon national park status, Roosevelt declared the 800,000-acre area a national monument himself, beginning an entirely new presidential practice of recognizing the country's natural assets.
"Let this great wonder of nature remain as it now is," said Roosevelt of the canyon, which became a national park in 1919. "You cannot improve on it. But what you can do is keep it for your children, your children's children, and all who come after you, as the one great sight which every American should see."
See it for yourself below, in photos courtesy of the National Park Service.
A cloud inversion on Nov. 29, 2013, as seen from Desert View Point, the eastern-most developed area on the South Rim.(Erin Huggins/National Park Service)
The view from Desert View Point, looking east at Cedar Mountain, on Nov. 29, 2013, of a cloud inversion, which is formed through the interaction of warm and cold air masses.(Erin Huggins/National Park Service)
A rainbow over the Grand Canyon on Oct. 12, 2013.(National Park Service)
Sunrise over Angel's Window, east of Cape Royal on the North Rim of the canyon, on May 21, 2010.(Michael Quinn/National Park Service)
The canyon's Yaki Point on May 10, 2013.(Michael Quinn/National Park Service)
A guide leads mule riders up a steep portion of the Bright Angel Trail known as Heartbreak Hill on April 23, 2011.(Michael Quinn/National Park Service)
Boating down the Colorado River below Havasu Creek in Grand Canyon National Park on Aug. 30, 2004.(Mark Lellouch/National Park Service)
Pipe Creek on Aug. 15, 2012.(Kristen M. Caldon/National Park Service)
The Grand Canyon's North Rim on July 22, 2013.(Michael Quinn/National Park Service)
The snowscape from Yavapai Point on Dec. 15, 2012.(Michael Quinn/National Park Service)
Tapeats sandstone ledges as seen while looking down into Salt Creek from along the Tonto Trail on April 14, 2007.(Michael Quinn/National Park Service)
Shoshone Point at sunset on May 14, 2012.(W. Tyson Joye/National Park Service)
The view of Coronado Butte near the Buggeln picnic area on July 14, 2012.(W. Tyson Joye/National Park Service)
The canyon's red limestone cliffs on Aug. 15, 2012.(Kristen M. Caldon/National Park Service)
Prehistoric granaries along the Colorado River above Nankoweap Trail in Marble Canyon on Aug. 24, 2004.(Mark Lellouch/National Park Service)