When is a Lawn Dangerous? Replanting the Grand Canyon

The National Park Service is removing the non-native grasses planted in the 1960s and 1970s to reduce water use and discourage non-native elk from grazing.
The lawn at El Tovar Hotel in Grand Canyon Village. Photo by Whit Richardson

The lawn at El Tovar Hotel in Grand Canyon Village. Photo by Whit Richardson

The planting season began early in 2015 in the Grand Canyon as park landscaping crews worked to re-cover the uprooted lawns of the park's lodges.

Non-Native Grasses Require Too Much Water and Attract Unwelcome Wildlife

In September 2014, the National Park Service began removing the non-native grasses that made up these bodies of green. Many of the lawns were planted with Kentucky Bluegrass in the 1960s and 1970s. The yards have been torn up as part of a long-term plan to replant the areas with native vegetation, as the yards of Grand Canyon Village have been.

Its removal was hastened by the increase of non-native Rocky Mountain elk in the Grand Canyon. The animals, introduced to the Flagstaff area between 1913 and 1929, have slowly migrated to the South Rim looking for new supplies of food and water.

Although park visitors enjoy seeing the elk, their curiosity often gets the best of them, leading to potentially dangerous encounters that require park staff intervention. The elk gatherings around the lawns of El Tovar and other lodges located near the rim pose an especially pertinent threat.

Rocky Mountain Elk Grazing on Grass can be Dangerous

"Visitors are naturally attracted to elk, and often approach too closely or place themselves directly in the path of elk that are foraging on the lawns," Park Superintendent Dave Uberuaga told Grand Canyon News. "Elk have become habituated to these lawns, making them dangerous and unpredictable. Although elk can give the impression of being tame, they can quickly become aggressive when protecting their food and water sources, their young, and during the fall rutting season."


Grand Canyon Helicopter Flights. Photo by Gary Bembridge Flickr

More Flights Allowed Over Grand Canyon

The Federal Aviation Administration announced that more air tour operators will be able to fly over Grand Canyon National Park as long as they're using quiet technology.

Water filling stations in the Grand Canyon. Photo by Whit Richardson

Where Can I Fill My Water Bottle in the Grand Canyon?

The Grand Canyon National Park no longer sells disposable plastic water bottles. Instead visitors are encouraged to use reusable bottles and the free water bottle filling stations throughout the park.


Why Do We Flood the Grand Canyon?

The Department of Interior forces 500,000 tons of sediment downstream to create back eddies and beaches, crucial to native fish species, campers and rafters.

Grand Canyon Parashant International Night Sky Province

Grand Canyon-Parashant Designated Flawless Skies

The Grand Canyon-Parashant National Monument has been awarded international "Night Sky Province" status for its unspoiled quality of its pristine and breathtaking night skies.

Grand Canyon View

How the Grand Canyon Became a National Park

The Canyon's natural beauty was under attack from developers, miners and ranchers. Jan 11, 1908, Roosevelt stopped them by establishing a national monument.

Gray Wolf

Feds Say No to Wolves in the Grand Canyon

One major region targeted by scientists to repopulate with wolves is the Grand Canyon, but the Feds said no to wolves north of Hwy 40 near Flagstaff.

Location of the Grand Canyon in Arizona, U.S.

Where is the Grand Canyon?

The canyon was carved out by the Colorado River in northern Arizona from Lake Powell at the Arizona-Utah border to Lake Mead at the Arizona-Nevada border.

A new species of cave-adapted pseudoscorpion, Hesperochernes bradybaughi. Photo courtesy of J. Judson Wynne, Northern Arizona University

Two New Species Found in Grand Canyon Cave

In a cave on the North Rim of the Grand Canyon, never-before-seen creatures were found that resembled scorpions. They had no eyes and no stingers.

Dave Uberuaga, former Superintendent of Grand Canyon National Park. Photo courtesy of NPS

NPS Centennial Q & A with Dave Uberuaga

We asked Dave Uberuaga, former Grand Canyon National Park superintendent, to look back and also look forward to the next 100 years.