In 1540, Spaniard Francisco Vasquez de Coronado was searching the Seven Cities of Cibola and its gold when Indians told him of a great river to the north.
In some areas vertical strike-slip faults developed which slashed the earth's crust horizontally, moving gigantic blocks of rock miles from their original location. Tilting, uplifting, down-dropping and side-by-side movements along Lake Mead's countless faults has given its rocks the unique look that you see today. Around 13 million years ago, the crust had stretched and thinned as iron and magnesium-rich magma, basalt, began to ascend from the earth's mantle. The darker, less explosive lava produced many of the black volcanic flow-capped mesas seen in many parts of Lake Mead National Recreation Area.
The Early Grand Canyon Explorers
Under orders from Coronado, Captain Garcia Lopez de Cardenas, along with Hopi guides and a small group of Spanish soldiers, traveled to the South Rim of the Grand Canyon. They arrived at Moran Point 20 days later and found themselves at the edge of a great chasm - the mighty Grand Canyon. After three frustrating days searching for a way down the river Coronado and his men moved on, in search of other legends.
The Grand Canyon and all of its splendor was then left to its original inhabitants, the Indians, and remained so for over three more centuries until 1869, when a one-armed civil War veteran Major John Wesley Powell set out with four boats to explore the mysterious Colorado River.