Grand Canyon National Park Quarter

The fourth 2010 coin to be issued in the United States Mint America the Beautiful Quarters™ Program is the Grand Canyon National Park Quarter from Arizona. It will begin to enter circulation on September 20, 2010.

Grand Canyon National Park Quarter
Grand Canyon National Park Quarter - Click to Enlarge

The Grand Canyon quarter reverse, designed and sculpted by Phebe Hemphill, depicts a view of the granaries above the Nankoweap Delta in Marble Canyon near the Colorado River. Inscriptions on the coin include GRAND CANYON, ARIZONA, 2010 and E PLURIBUS UNUM.

The final theme or design for the quarter-dollar reverse was selected by U.S. Secretary of the Treasury Tim Geithner after receiving recommendations from U.S. Mint Director Ed Moy. The Mint made the design announcement for all the 2010 America the Beautiful Quarters on March 24, 2010.

The obverse of all of the America the Beautiful Quarters contains the same portrait of George Washington and was designed by John Flanagan.

Up for the running as possible selections were four candidate designs, shown immediately below. These were reviewed by several individuals and the two major bodies that are part of the design process for all American coins, the United States Commission of Fine Arts (CFA) and the Citizen’s Coinage Advisory Committee (CCAC).

Grand Canyon National Park Quarter, Design Candidate AZ-01 - Click to Enlarge Grand Canyon National Park Quarter, Design Candidate AZ-02 - Click to Enlarge Grand Canyon National Park Quarter, Design Candidate AZ-03 - Click to Enlarge Grand Canyon National Park Quarter, Design Candidate AZ-04 - Click to Enlarge

Both groups favored an image showing the Colorado River winding through a detailed canyon wall, depicted on quarter design candidate AZ-01. It was this base design that was eventually selected for the quarter. The CFA did ask for changes.

"The Grand Canyon is already on the state quarter so this has to be something different," CFA Secretary Tom Luebke said. "It’s a challenge. Commission members liked No. 1 because it represented a deep perspective, but felt it needed adjustment."

The 50 State Quarters Program from the US Mint that ran from from 1999-2008 and featured an image of the Grand Canyon on the Arizona Quarter in 2008. The Grand Canyon is seen on the top of the coin with a rising or setting sun. Below the coin is a Saguaro cactus. Separating the two images is a banner stating "Grand Canyon State."

The 2010 Grand Canyon quarter follows the first three quarters in the program, the Hot Springs National Park Quarter, the Yellowstone National Park Quarter and the Yosemite National Park Quarter. A coin featuring Mount Hood National Forest will complete the 2010 issues.

Also issued from the US Mint are Grand Canyon America the Beautiful Silver Uncirculated Coins which will contain this same design.

Additional 2010 America the Beautiful Quarter releases for the year include:

Grand Canyon National Park in Arizona information

Grand Canyon at Grand Canyon National Park in Arizona (NPS Photo) - Click to Enlarge
Grand Canyon at Grand Canyon National Park in Arizona (NPS Photo) - Click to Enlarge

Long before man ever set foot in the area, Mother Nature was hard at work! Tens of millions of years ago, upward pressure lifted the Colorado plateau to a higher elevation changing the drainage of the region. This additional elevation also caused an increase in the speed of the water in the streams and rivers, making them more efficient at eroding the landscape. Then, at least 5 million years ago, the Colorado River really picked up the pace and continued to cut through layers and layers of pre-historic rock, leaving us essentially with the Grand Canyon that we know today.

Evidence of a human presence in the Grand Canyon can be traced back over 10,000 years, but it is believed that permanent settlements of Native Americans only started around 4,000 years ago. This is due mostly to the fact that around this time, the Anasazi Indians of the area changed from being more nomadic to depending on agriculture.

"Modern man" would first discover the beauties of the area in 1540 when Captain Garcia Lopez de Cardenas and his Spanish solders would visit the area along with some Hopi Indian guides. Not being what they were searching for, the Spanish soldiers left and it would be over 200 years before the area would be "discovered" again.

In 1776, two priests would encounter the area along with Spanish soldiers as they searched for a passage from Sante Fe to California. Also in 1776, a Franciscan missionary would visit the area in an attempt to convert some of the local indians. He was unsuccessful, but he did describe the canyon he saw as "profound."

It was not until the mid 1800’s that explorers made any meaningful advances in understanding the area. Several expeditions, some of the military in nature, were dispatched in the 1850’s but the most scientifically credible one occurred in 1869, with an expedition led by Major John Wesley Powell. Powell was an accomplished explorer who took nine men and four boats down the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon. He repeated his trip again in 1871, creating a detailed map of the river and had multiple photos taken of the area.

"Leave it as it is. You cannot improve on it. The ages have been at work on it, and man can only mar it."

That is what President Theodore Roosevelt had to say about the Grand Canyon in the early 1900’s. His sentiment shows the appreciation most have for the national park.

In 1903, President Theodore Roosevelt visited the area and was decidedly impressed. He took the first steps to protect the Grand Canyon by making it a Federal Game Preserve in 1906. However, he, along with other area supporters, was not happy with the protection this afforded and made it a National Monument in 1908.

Opponents prevented its induction as a National Park until 1919, when it became the 17th such park in the United States.

Today, almost 5 million people visit the park each year. The summer is prime tourist time with temperatures on the rim usually quite comfortable. Rains are a common occurrence during this season along with strong thunderstorms. The South Rim remains open year round, but the North Rim is usually closed late October to mid May due to heavy snows.

All who visit take in the grand coloring of the exposed canyon, which appears to change with the light of day. Most confine their visit to the rim area, but some are more adventurous and either take hikes (or ride mules) down to the river below.