Carving the Canyon

There's little doubt that the Colorado River carved the Grand Canyon. But exactly how it did so is still a mystery. Water flows downhill, so when a river encounters rising terrain it is diverted, always seeking the path of least resistance to reach the sea.

So why does the course of the Colorado River cut through the Kaibab and Coconino plateaus almost at their highest point? As the broader Colorado Plateau rose, lifted by the same mountain-building forces that raised the Rocky Mountains, the Colorado River should have gone somewhere else.

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