Spanish Dicovery

Spanish Dicovery (HM2C92)

Location: Grand Canyon Village, AZ 86023 Coconino County
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Country: United States of America
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N 36° 0.293', W 111° 55.452'

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Near here in late summer of 1540, soldiers from the Spanish expedition of Francisco Vasquez de Coronado became the first Europeans to see Grand Canyon.

After journeying for six months, Coronado's army arrived at the Hopi mesas, east of Grand Canyon. From there Garcia Lopez de Cardenas, guided by Hopi Indians, led a small party of men to find a reported "great river." After 20 days they reached the south rim of Grand Canyon, emerging from the forest to stand on the edge of this vast chasm.

Cardenas's party spent three days trying to reach the bottom of the canyon, in vain, then returned to Coronado to report their discovery.

The Discovery Site
The exact site where Cardenas and his men first saw Grand Canyon is unknown. Castaneda described the site as "elevated and full of low twisted pines...lying open to the north." This, along with descriptions of their travel route, places the site between here and Desert View.

The Expedition
Coronado began his journey near Mexico City in February 1540, with more than 300 soldiers., 4 priests, hundreds of Indian allies, slaves, and 1500 stock animals. For two years his army explored unknown and often hostile land, searching for the legendary seven golden cities of Cibola. They reached as far east as present-day


Coronado failed to find wealth, but his expedition opened a new era for the land they explored and the people they met.

How do we know?
Around 1560 Pedro de Castaneda, a soldier with Coronado (but not one who saw the canyon) recorded his memories of the expedition 20 years earlier. It is from that we have our record of Cardenas's discovery of the Grand Canyon. Castaneda reported frustration and amazement:

"After they had gone twenty days they came to the banks of the river {the canyon rim}.... They spent three days on this bank looking for a passage down.... It was impossible to descend... the three lightest and most agile men, made an attempt to go down at the least difficult place, and went down until those who were above were unable to keep sight of them. They returned about four o'clock in the afternoon, not having succeeded... Those who stayed above had estimated that some huge rocks on the sides of the cliffs seemed to be about as tall as a man, but those who went down swore that when they reached these rocks they were bigger than the great tower of Seville."
HM NumberHM2C92
Marker ConditionNo reports yet
Date Added Sunday, October 14th, 2018 at 2:04pm PDT -07:00
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Locationbig map
UTM (WGS84 Datum)12S E 416708 N 3984885
Decimal Degrees36.00488333, -111.92420000
Degrees and Decimal MinutesN 36° 0.293', W 111° 55.452'
Degrees, Minutes and Seconds36° 0' 17.58" N, 111° 55' 27.12" W
Driving DirectionsGoogle Maps
Area Code(s)928
Which side of the road?Marker is on the right when traveling West
Closest Postal AddressAt or near AZ-64, Grand Canyon Village AZ 86023, US
Alternative Maps Google Maps, MapQuest, Bing Maps, Yahoo Maps, MSR Maps, OpenCycleMap, MyTopo Maps, OpenStreetMap

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