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Splendor In The Glass

Take A Breathtaking Stroll On The Grand Canyon Skywalk Tour

You may not be able to walk on air, but at Grand Canyon Helicopter tour with Skywalk, you can walk on glass—while being suspended 4,000 feet in the air! A U-shaped walkway has been constructed at Eagle Point in Arizona. It juts out 70 feet from the canyon’s West Rim, allowing you to go for a stroll with nothing between your feet and the Colorado River except four inches of glass.

Grand Canyon West is owned by the Hualapai Indians, a tribe consisting of more than 1,500 members who have lived on the west side of the canyon for untold generations. They possess nearly one million acres of land there. The Skywalk is a joint venture between the Hualapai Indians and David Jin of Las Vegas. Jin is an entrepreneur and a tour operator specializing in trips to the area. He’d conceived the idea of a glass bridge more than 10 years ago. Once he got the tribe’s support, Jin enlisted Las Vegas-based architect Mark Johnson to design it.

The $30 million Skywalk is an engineering wonder. It has been created to bear at least 71 million pounds, withstand powerful winds of over 100 miles per hour (from eight different directions!) and endure an 8.0-magnitude earthquake within a 50-mile radius. More than one million pounds of steel were used to build it.

Construction on the Skywalk began in March of 2004. In May of 2005, the final test was conducted and the structure passed engineering requirements by 400 percent. History was then made on March 20, 2007, when the official dedication ceremony took place with former astronaut Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin taking the first steps on it, joined by Native American astronaut John Herrington. Since the opening of the Skywalk, Grand Canyon West has welcomed more than 200,000 visitors to the area.

It definitely takes some courage to go on the Skywalk because looking through the glass floor can be intense. After climbing a stairway of about 20 steps, you put a pair of non-scratch booties on over your shoes. You’ll find the glass floor is about five feet wide, and there are six-foot-tall glass walls with handrails all along the Skywalk. Even though your brain knows better, you can’t help but feel nervous as you wander out over the huge gorge. It’s also hard to forget that the only thing between you and a nearly half-mile fall is a few inches of glass! However, the views of the Grand Canyon are spectacular from here and well worth the visit. There’s no better way to experience its beauty.

A maximum of 120 people are allowed on the Skywalk at any given time. You won’t be able to carry anything with you. Visitors are asked to store all their personal belongings in lockers—because if something were dropped, the sensitive plexiglass could be scratched. There is a professional photographer on the Skywalk who will snap your picture, which will be available later for purchase.

Right now, you enter and exit the Skywalk via temporary buildings while the adjacent tri-level visitors’ center is being constructed. Upon completion, it will be 6,000 square feet and contain a museum, movie theater, VIP lounge, gift shop, several restaurants and a bar.

Maverick Helicopter is one of the tour operators that goes to Grand Canyon West from Las Vegas. Their Indian Territory tour features a stop at the Skywalk.

Written by Travel Gal, Renee Libutti

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