Saturday, April 07, 2007

DAY 5, GRAND CANYON WEST - SKYWALK. (Part 1)



The Skywalk at the Grand Canyon West is the newest tourist attraction, having opened to the public on March 28. Its called "The Glass Bridge at Grand Canyon." I decided to break this into parts because I can't seem to upload more than 7 or 8 pictures at a time without losing something.
The pictures, starting at the top, are as follows:

(1) After leaving Kingman, AZ, you still have to drive about 25 more miles to get to the Hualapai Indian Reservation, and then 21 miles to where the West Grand Canyon (as opposed to the North and South Rims) was located. The Skywalk is a combined effort of a Las Vegas architect, David Jin, and the Hualapai Indian Tribe (allowing them to make money from this tourist attraction over and above what they obviously were making previously on tours only).
The actual staging area to buy tickets for the Skywalk is reached after driving on 14 miles of bumpy, unpaved road. We were really glad we weren't driving our own car with all the shaking, rattling, and stone dings we were experiencing. After all the confusion of how to actually get to the Skywalk, we found ourselves on this road with no one in front of us. There were a few cars and a tour bus behind us, but for all I knew, they were following us, and I wasn't convinced we were going the right way. After all, you would think, after what we experienced in Flagstaff, there would be numerous cars caravanning to the Skywalk, but here we were, leading the way, like the blind leading the blind. I mentioned several times that I felt either we were going the wrong way or it had already been decided it wasn't worth the effort to go there, and thus we were on a wild goose chase.

(2) The road goes through the Joshua Tree Forest, something totally unexpected and unique for me to see. I wasn't quite sure until that day what a Joshua Tree looked like. The pictures do not do justice to the tree lined road we actually were driving down, but the car was so bumpy I was unable to focus to take many good pictures while riding.

(3) Just another scene from the long and winding road.

When we finally arrived at the ticket area, we discovered it was also the airport and air field. Here, you were able to buy tour tickets for Eagle and Guano Points, including the Skywalk, and, if you desired, take an airplane or helicopter tour of the Canyon. No, I don't think so! That cost over $200 per person, and I really preferred to stay on the ground.

The ticket purchasing building also contained a gift shop. There were probably 40 people waiting in line for tour tickets, and another 25 in the gift shop, and the whole building was about the size of a mobile home, so it was crowded. We had heard different information on the cost of walking on the Skywalk, but fortunately one of the Tribe members was handing out brochures as you entered the building and gave us detailed information when asked. For $49.95, plus tax, you can get the Spirit tour, which included: bus ride to Eagle Point, "photo ops with the Hualapai members," exploring the Indian Village, bus ride to Guano Point, panoramic view of the Colorado River, Indian cultural events, all-you-can eat buffet, and, last but not least, view the Skywalk. And for an additional $25, walk on the Skywalk. So, for a total of $74.95, plus tax, you could get a ride to and view and walk on the Skywalk, a tour that previously had cost only $25 before the Skywalk.

From my own perspective, having come all that way, obviously I wasn't going to turn around and leave without getting at least the cheapest tour. So we paid the $75+ each and headed out on the bus.

(4) Skywalk. The rules prohibited bringing any cameras or other loose items onto the Skywalk, so this is a picture of, rather than a picture from, the Skywalk. The Skywalk itself has a mostly plexiglass floor, which required you to wear booties, similar to those worn in the hospitals, with little grippers on them to prevent skidding. I had heard there was a limit on number of people allowed on the Skywalk at any given time, which I thought was 125. I don't think there were more than 50 people on their when we went, and from the information we read ahead of time, it appeared that the only weight issue would be if there were more than 71 747s on the Skywalk at the same time! It was also built to withstand a category 8 earthquate anywhere within 50 miles as well as winds up to 100 mph. Fortunately, we didn't experience any of those problems that day! In fact, the weather was perfect: about 70 degrees, sunny, and no wind. The crew working there told us the first two days it had snowed and was around 20 degrees, so I was glad we had missed that!
When I first stepped onto the Skywalk and looked down, I had a momentary episode of vertigo, but it quickly went away. There were a few people acting totally ridiculous about the whole thing, and in my opinion should have just stayed off. One woman in particular came along the railing where I was standing enjoying the view and clutched onto me so she could pass--and then only if I stepped back so she wouldn't have to let go of the railing! Another young guy was weaving and staggering, as if drunk, due to his dizziness from the experience. But those were just two of the people we encountered, and most were okay. We were 4000 feet up, and as far as I was concerned, if we fell, we wouldn't live to feel the pain, so I wasn't going to worry.

(5-6) This is the Indian culture we experienced.
(7) Another view of the Canyon, similar to what you would see from the Skywalk.

5 comments:

Shelley said...

Beautiful pics Vickie..so glad you had a great time!!

E-Speed said...

wow despite all your airplane and traffic woes it look like you are having a beautiful trip!

Lisa - Slow & Steady said...

Great photos and that is the first pic that i've seen of the skywalk. I thought they were doing something with a tram or train on that side too, but you didn't mention it. Maybe I was mistaken??

Oh, and if I ever make it back there, I'd be one of those rediculous people that probably should have stayed off. I have a TERRIBLE fear of heights.

WADDLER26.2 said...

Thanks for all the photos. Wish we had some of that weather!!!!!!!!

Flo said...

I can't believe I missed this post. That skywalk would freak me out. There's no way I'd go out there. But it sure looks beautiful.