This day in history: Grand Canyon national monument is created

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MapQuest Presents Grand Canyon National Park

On this day in 1908, President Theodore Roosevelt declared the Grand Canyon a national monument. Today, nearly five million people visit the Grand Canyon National Park each year.

The 5,000-foot-deep canyon was home to Native Americans for centuries, and remained a mystery to non-natives throughout the European colonization of the Americas. Explorer Don Garcia Lopez de Cardenas was the first European to see the canyon as he traveled through the southwest in 1540 with the Spanish explorer Coronado.

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While other explorers also traveled to the rim of the canyon, few descended into vast depth of the valley until the 19th century. The creation of the Santa Fe railroad in 1901 provided a more convenient way to reach the canyon, spurring it's popularity as a destination for American tourists. According to History.com, by 1915, 100,000 visitors were arriving every year.

View majestic photos of the Grand Canyon below:
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Grand Canyon Clouds
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This day in history: Grand Canyon national monument is created
This photo provided by the National Park Service shows dense clouds at the south rim of the Grand Canyon on Thursday, Dec. 11, 2014 in Arizona. A rare weather phenomenon on Thursday had visitors looking out to a sea of thick clouds. The total cloud inversion is expected to hang over the Grand Canyon just below the rim throughout the day. (AP Photo/National Park Service, Maci MacPherson) -----
This photo provided by the National Park Service shows dense clouds at the south rim of the Grand Canyon on Thursday, Dec. 11, 2014 in Arizona. A rare weather phenomenon on Thursday had visitors looking out to a sea of thick clouds. The total cloud inversion is expected to hang over the Grand Canyon just below the rim throughout the day. (AP Photo/National Park Service, Maci MacPherson) -----
Confluence of Colorado Little Colorado Grand Canyon National Park Arizona
Aerial shots around Page/Arizona
Aerial shots around Page/Arizona
In this photo provided by the National Park Service, visitors to Mather Point on the South Rim of Grand Canyon National Park, in Ariz., view a rare weather phenomenon - a sea of thick clouds filling the canyon just below the rim, Thursday, Dec. 11, 2014. The total cloud inversion is expected to hang inside the canyon throughout Thursday. Cory Mottice of the National Weather Service said the weather event happens about once every several years, though the landmark was treated to one last year. (AP Photo/National Park Service, Michael Quinn)
Grand Canyon DEIS Aerial: Confluence of Colorado & Little Colorado Rivers
Outflow of Havasu Creek into the Colorado River in the Grand Canyon, Arizona
Little Colorado River (at the confluence of the Colorado River), Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona USA
Little Colorado River (at the confluence of the Colorado River), Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona USA
Little Colorado River (left) confluence with the Colorado River (right) in the Grand Canyon national park
Havasu Creek confluence at Colorado River - Grand Canyon
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In order to preserved the canyon forever, President Theodore Roosevelt designated a part of the canyon a national monument in 1908. In 1932, congress made the canyon a national park, increasing its protection by blocking private development.
See the top ten National Parks in the United States:
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Top 10 National Parks
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This day in history: Grand Canyon national monument is created

Yosemite National Park - California

Photo: John Krzesinski via Getty Images

Grand Canyon National Park - Arizona

Photo: kojihirano via Getty Images

Glacier National Park - Montana

Photo: Medioimages/Photodisc via Getty Images

Denali National Park - Alaska

Photo: Erhard Nerger via Getty Images

Chaco National Park - New Mexico

Photo: Wilsilver77 via Getty Images

Acadia National Park - Maine

Photo: Bob Elam via Getty Images

Rocky Mountain National Park - Colorado

Photo: David Epperson via Getty Images

Mammoth Cave National Park - Kentucky

Photo: ColorPlayer via Getty Images

Olympic National Park - Washington

Photo: jamesvancouver via Getty Images

Grand Teton National Park - Wyoming

Photo: Michael Turner via Getty Images

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