Monday, June 2, 2014

Do It! Go "Walk The Sky!"

    To ”walk the sky” was our journey’s goal.  So, while holding each other’s hand as both a bit of excitement and fear surged through our bodies, we stepped out and onto Arizona’s Skywalk.  For one lifelong thrill seeker and one lifelong acrophobic, that first step onto the sky was as amazing as any we had ever taken together. 
    Skywalk is the somewhat controversial tourist attraction located along the western end of the Grand Canyon on the Hualapai (People of the Pine Tree) Indian Reservation in northwestern Arizona.  From the front door of Anthem to the parking lot for Skywalk, 340 miles must be traveled on Arizona’s paved highways plus 14 miles of a winding, dusty unpaved high desert adventure.  With a developer from Las Vegas, Nevada, the Hualapai tribe has created at the end of that 14 mile odyssey  one of the most unique experiences and thrills we have ever found anywhere in Arizona.
    Skywalk first opened its pathway to the sky in March 2007.  It is the crown jewel of the tribe’s Grand Canyon West development, a 100 mile long recreational area along the south rim of the Grand Canyon that is still very much in development.  If you are looking for a 100% finished product, a couple of years wait would be advised.  But if you want the rush of “walking on the sky”, October certainly is the perfect month to go.  
    Skywalk is a horse-shoe shaped clear-glass walkway 4000 feet above the floor of a side canyon of the Grand Canyon.  It dwarfs by 1000s of feet any modern skyscraper.  It extends some 65 feet beyond the edge of the canyon wall and the view straight down is, well, either a thrill or a lifetime fright!
    No cameras, bags or non-pocketed personal items are allowed onto Skywalk; these all being placed in a $1.00 rented locker.  Skywalkers must pass through a metal detector and then attach “booties” to their shoes to protect the 4-inch thick glass walkway.  Security guards and professional photographers are on the walkway to assist the skywalkers and to document with photos the many emotional responses of “walking on the sky.”
    A major part of Skywalk’s controversy is the price.  The cheapest ticket for this Arizona adventure is currently $80.94/adult. This $80.94 also gets you a buffet meal and an air-conditioned shuttle-bus ride (no private cars allowed) to Skywalk and Guano Point, where the view of the Grand Canyon and the Colorado River is truly spectacular.  Finally, the hop-on-hop-off shuttle buses will take you to a replica of a Wild West town that cowboys and cowgirls of all ages can surely enjoy.
    Helicopter rides from the very busy Grand Canyon West Airport that speed visitors through Granite Gorge and above the Colorado River are available and in high demand.  Overnight stays can be arranged at the Hualapai Ranch where the time of the American cowboy is alive and on daily display.  If you don’t remember what the Milky Way really looks like away from the city lights, well “WOW” is the best adjective to describe this celestial wonder.
    If you aren’t interested in staying overnight at Grand Canyon West, Kingman, Arizona is only a 78-mile return drive and has many modern hotel chains.  
    Over the next couple years plans call for the completion of a museum, movie theater and expansive gift shop.  In addition, several restaurants, including the high-end Skywalk CafĂ©, where visitors will dine on the canyon’s rim, will all be completed.
    So, was a drive of 354 miles to an unfinished Hualapai Indian Reservation development worth the time, effort and money? For us the answer is a resounding “Yes!” 
It has been our traveling experience that reservation adventures can sometimes be a little culturally different from adventures found in large, American city theme parks; remembering this can make the outing more enjoyable.
So, give yourself plenty of time to travel northwest and to enjoy the culture and natural beauty found at Grand Canyon West’s Skywalk.  And, when you take your first step out onto that glass pathway, we hope you feel the same thrill and joy as we felt when on one special Arizona September day, we “walked the sky!”   

Skywalk Fact Sheet

Glass floor is made of 5-layers of tempered glass, 4 inches thick.  The top wear layer is 8-millimeters thick and designed to be replaced as surface wears.
Skywalk is approximately 65 feet long and walkway is 10 feet wide.
Glass side rails are 1.5 inches thick and 4 feet 6 inches high.  Vertical steel post occur every 5 – 7 feet.
    More than 1 million of pounds of steel were used in the construction.  More than 108 holes, filled with rebar and cement, were drilled 30-40 feet into the bedrock.
    Skywalk designed to safely hold over 70 tons of weight and up to 800 people.  Only 120 people are ever allowed onto Skywalk at any one time.
    Skywalk is designed to withstand winds up to 100 mph from 8 different directions.
    Skywalk is designed to withstand an 8.0 earthquake from a distance of 50 miles.

More information:

Sky Walk
Do it - Walk The Sky

Colorado River seen from Guano Point

Grand Canyon beauty


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