Grand Canyon West
Why the West Rim is the Canyon’s Most Exciting Place to Visit!
The National Park, also known as South Rim, used to be the only game in town. That changed when the Skywalk was unveiled at Grand Canyon West in 2007. Perched on the edge of the West Rim, the glass bridge offers phenomenal views of the Colorado River, Eagle Point and the canyon itself.
The Skywalk was introduced in March 2007. It was the brainchild of David Jin, a Las Vegas businessman. Buzz Aldrin, the astronaut and second man to walk on the moon, inaugurated the bridge by taking the ceremonial first steps. The attraction cost $31 million to build.
The Grand Canyon Skywalk
The Skywalk attraction is completely managed and operated by the Hualapai Indian Tribe because it is on tribal lands. It’s basically a U-shaped steel frame bolted into the side of the West Rim. Its glass floor is comprised of 40+ panels that cost $250,000 each. The deck goes 70 feet past the rim’s edge. The purpose, according to its designers, is to give you the feeling of being totally surrounded by the Grand Canyon. Having done the Sky Walk multiple times, I would say they’ve succeeded.
Travelers are not permitted to take personal items onto the Skywalk. This is because the glass floors are very sensitive and could get marked up if you drop something like cell phones, cameras and video cameras on them. Thus tourists are requested to keep all personal items in lockers that are provided free of charge. If you want a photo of you on the bridge, ask any of the professional photographers stationed on the walkway, then go to the gift shop and choose the pictures you want.
How do I Get to the West Rim?
To reach Grand Canyon West, you can fly and land at its airport. Las Vegas helicopters and airplanes make multiple, daily trips. You can self-drive the 120 miles from Vegas, too. I don’t recommend it. The last 10 or so miles are rough, dirt road. Blowouts are common. If this is your preference, rent a sport utility vehicle that has some clearance. Make sure it has a GPS unit and a full tank of gas.
The Hualapai tribe has called Grand Canyon West home for many years. Historically, their territory spanned from the Bill Williams River to the Grand Canyon, and from the Colorado River to the Black Mountains. Anthropologists have categorized the tribe as nomadic hunter-gatherers who often traded with other neighboring tribes. Today, their reservation consists of a nearly 1 million acres.
The Hualapai Tribe and the West Rim
There are approximately 2,300 members of the Hualapai Tribe. Their headquarters is right off Route 66 in Peach Springs, AZ. They own and operate a hotel, gift shop and restaurant in town, and frequently find employment on ranches and in a tourism trade that includes whitewater rafting trips, Colorado River boat rides and backcountry hiking.
Grand Canyon West is full of adventure and is considered the place where you can more fully interact with the canyon. For example, the West Rim is the only place in the National Park where you can ride a helicopter to the bottom. Future plans include a cable car that will take travelers from the top of the rim to the bottom of the canyon. Many consider that a pipe dream but that was exactly what folks thought when the Skywalk was first bandied about.
Grand Canyon West Tours
If you want a safe, enjoyable trip to the West Rim, any of the following tours, especially the Colorado River 1-day, smooth water float trip, is a good choice. Simply click the link for more information:
Make it a grand day