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Grand Canyon panorama site locations

Larry Wieland’s Grand Canyon Panorama Project

The Grand Canyon Panorama Project is a collection of hundreds of interconnected 360° panoramas of Grand Canyon National Park. The project was created by me 20 years ago. Ever since I've been hiking throughout the park gathering panorama photographs, assembling the panoramas back home, and creating the software to display it. The project brings an interactive experience of exploring and learning about the backcountry of the Grand Canyon to everyone, and not just to the small number of people that are able and inclined to visit the Grand Canyon beyond its rims.

I recently released a new version of the project focused on geology. Beyond the satellite imagery and topographical maps already integrated into the project, the project now, with the assistance of the Arizona Geological Survey, includes a geological map derived from USGS geological maps of the canyon. In addition, viewers of new project panoramas can also see the geology of the scene without having to go to the geological map, but can directly overlay the scene with its geology, showing where the geological formations present within the scene are located.


In addition to the geological features, the new version of the project also integrates a narrative about the scene directly into the panorama. The narrative text contains links that will turn and zoom the panorama to highlight the subject of the link. You can enter the project and view the first panorama to show off all the new features added to the project by clicking on the following link:

Here is the narrative for that panorama; the italicsized phrases will appear as active links in the interactive narrative that accompanies the launch of the URL above.

This 360° panorama is right on the northern boundary of Grand Canyon National Park, on top of a cliff band of Coconino Sandstone. Saddle Mountain, topped by a dome of Kaibab Limestone, the uppermost formation in the stack of Grand Canyon geological formations, is the focus of attention in the starting view of the panorama. The white band just below the dome and also slanting downward to the left, is the same Coconino Sandstone at the panorama location. Below and to the right of the Coconino on Saddle Mountain, shining bright red in the afternoon light, are the Hermit Shale and Supai Group of formations. The cliff band running through the middle of the red is the Esplanade Sandstone, the top member of the Supai Group. The Hermit Shale is above the Esplanade cliff band, and the other members of the Supai Group are below.

Beyond and to the right of Saddle Mountain, the view stretches to the Navajo Nation on the far side of the Colorado River. The Colorado is not visible from here, hemmed in by the walls of Marble Canyon. From here the area beyond the Colorado within the Navajo Nation looks like a perfectly flat plain, spreading back from the top of the cliffs of the Desert Facade, which forms the far wall of Marble Canyon. The rock formation on the surface of the plain is the same Kaibab Limestone that caps Saddle Mountain. The Kaibab also forms the surface of the Kaibab and Coconino Plateaus, which are the high plateaus behind the the North and South Grand Canyon Rims.


Just in front of the Desert Facade cliffs is Nankoweap Mesa, displaying the same set of colored bands as the Desert Facade. The stack of formations making up those bands is the same on top of Saddle Mountain, in the cliffs of the Desert Facade, and the walls of Nankoweap Mesa, even though the Desert Facade and Nankoweap Mesa are several thousand feet lower than Saddle Mountain. The area between the river and here has been uplifted about 3000 feet by the East Kaibab Monocline, a major geological feature that runs 150 miles from the San Francisco Peaks volcanic field near Flagstaff, Arizona to the south, and up to Bryce Canyon in Utah to the north.

The flat area to the left and below Saddle Mountain is House Rock Valley, stretching east from the base of the East Kaibab Monocline to the cliffs of Marble Canyon on the near side of the Colorado River. You can follow the route of Marble Canyon as it winds its way off to the northeast for 50 miles towards its beginning at Lee’s Ferry. The surface of House Rock valley is once again the Kaibab Limestone formation.

Butte Fault

Turn back to Saddle Mountain and look again at the reddish Hermit Shale and Supai Group formations below and to the right of the dome. Below the Supai is another high cliff band, still reddish but lighter in color, which is the Redwall Limestone.  A tongue of the Redwall, more pinkish than red, continues off to the right, forming the tip of Marion Point. Continuing further off to the right from the tip of the Marion Point pinkish Redwall, is a gray band of rock in front of the base of Nankoweap Mesa. That gray band is also Redwall Limestone, but it does not form a cliff. It has instead been bent sharply upward, and marks the beginning of the uplift of the East Kaibab Monocline. The path of the Butte Fault runs along the base of the East Kaibab Monocline. We can't see much of the Butte Fault from this spot, but what we can see runs right along the base of that gray band of Redwall.

This is an invited post by Larry Wieland.  Grand Canyon Panorama Project: