THE GRAND CANYON SKYWALK
...Unforgettable, If You Dare!
I don’t particularly like heights. Sure, when there is an airplane under me, I don’t get too
skittish. But when there is nothing but clear glass and a 4000 feet chasm below my feet,
that’s an entirely different story altogether. (In case you are wondering, 4000 feet is twice
the height of the world’s tallest building, the Taipei 101—a mere 1,670 feet!).
So when I was invited to go along and step onto the new Skywalk, a horseshoe-shaped
structure built on Hualapai (pronounced WALL-uh-pie) Tribal land and sticking out
70 feet beyond the canyon’s rim, it didn’t help to hear Hualapai Chairman Charlie
Vaughn say, “I can hear the glass cracking.” He said it playfully, but…!
SAFETY IN THE STATS
It helps to hear all the statistics. The observation deck, with its three-inch thick glass
bottom, is anchored deeply into the limestone cliff. It was engineered to withstand winds
up to 100 miles per hour. It even comes equipped with shock absorbers that keep it from
bouncing as people walk on it.
Every safety precaution was taken. Still, when you look down and see the tiny, ribbon-
sized Colorado River, and when the wind blows as playfully as Charlie’s joke, you will
undoubtedly grab the steel rail as I did.
Buzz Aldrin, the former astronaut, was there for the opening ceremony. His first thoughts
“It’s a magnificent walk. It felt wonderful, not exactly like floating on air.
The Hualapai Tribe (Hwal`bay means "People of the Tall Pine"),
live on a reservation of a million acres along 108 miles of the
Colorado River and the Grand Canyon. They decided to allow
David Jin, a developer from Las Vegas, to build the $40 million
Skywalk, located nearly 100 miles west of Grand Canyon
National Park, in order to attract people to their region of the
Granted, you will have to drive 14 miles on unpaved roads, but
the ride is worth every bump.
Eventually, the Hualapai hope the Skywalk will double traffic to the reservation from the
current 300,000 visitors to at least 600,000. Plans include helicopter tours, river rafting,
a rustic Western town, and a Native American museum. With a third of the tribe’s over
2000 members living in poverty, the tourism money is crucial for survival.
You have never smelled cleaner air anywhere in the world. And if you dare, venture
around the Skywalk. It is simply unforgettable!