The Trail of Time, located on the South Rim of Grand Canyon National Park, recently won an Interpretive Media Award from the National Association for Interpretation (NAI).
The award, first place in the Wayside Exhibit category, recognizes and promotes excellence in the delivery of natural, cultural, and historical non-personal interpretive services (things like visitor center exhibits, waysides and brochures where a ranger is not physically present to facilitate visitor understanding and appreciation.)
The Trail of Time follows the existing, paved Rim Trail between the Yavapai Geology Museum and the Verkamp’s Visitor Center on the South Rim of Grand Canyon National Park. It is an interpretive walking timeline that focuses on Grand Canyon vistas and rocks, and invites visitors to ponder, explore, and understand the magnitude of geologic time and the stories encoded in Grand Canyon’s rock layers and landscapes. The timeline is marked by brass markers every meter, representing one million years of time; and viewing tubes and other interpretive materials help visitors connect the rocks visible in the Grand Canyon to their place along the geologic timeline.
First proposed in 1995 by University of New Mexico geology professor, Dr. Karl Karlstrom, the Trail was funded by an Informal Education Grant from the National Science Foundation in 2005 and completed in 2010. The Trail of Time is part of a research program in informal science education aimed at understanding and improving public understanding of the connection between human time scales and the million year heartbeat of the Earth.
“Park visitors seem to love to touch the rocks, do trail activities, and study the waysides, all in the context of great views within one of the world’s most spectacular landscapes,” says Dr. Karlstrom.
The Trail of Time was a collaborative effort between the National Park Service, the University of New Mexico, Arizona State University, the University of Massachusetts, and the National Science Foundation. “I speak for the entire Trail of Time planning team in saying we are honored to have received first place for Wayside Exhibits from the National Association for Interpretation,” Dr. Karlstrom concluded.
The National Association for Interpretation is a not-for-profit professional association whose membership is involved in the interpretation of natural and cultural heritage resources in settings such as parks, zoos, museums, nature centers, aquaria, botanical gardens, and historic sites.
The Association encourages networking, training, and collaboration among members and partners in support of their mission: inspiring leadership and excellence to advance heritage interpretation as a profession.