Grand Canyon Skywalk
by Debbie Miller Marschke
Steve and I were headed home after spending Christmas in Colorado with family, and we decided to check out the Grand Canyon Skywalk. It’s really not “on the way” to anything, so we had to budget an entire day for the experience. It is accessible from either Las Vegas or Kingman; we came in from the Kingman side and drove around 90 minutes northeast until we reached the area of the Grand Canyon West Airport, were the attraction is located. It was built in 2007 and is owned and operated by the Hualapai Indian tribe.
Upon our arrival, we found that there is more than one attraction feature to the area. With the price of admission, there is a shuttle bus that circulates around to other points of interest. But first, ah yes, the souvenir shop. The line for tickets conveniently funnels you through the gift shop which is packed with all-things-Skywalk, and a plethora of mass produced Native American gifts we can all do without.
Our first shuttle stop was at the Hualapai Village. This place resembles Calico Ghost town and offers things like hay rides and mechanical bull riding. It was advertised to display Native Americans in typical costume, but we didn’t see any. It was a “slow” day - we were visiting on January 1, they only had 600 visitors this day ( the slowest days have around 400 visitors and the busiest days- 6,000 !) We nosed around the shops and storefronts briefly and decided to move on. Back on the shuttle!
Second stop – the Skywalk. After pouring out of the shuttle, the first thing I noticed was the complete lack of improvements. There was the Skywalk building, perched on the side of the canyon, with the walkway protruding out 70 feet from the edge. On each side of the building, there is bare unimproved ground and a sheer dropoff. No railing, no wall, nothing to stop some dimwitted selfie taker from slipping over the edge and falling 800 feet. I appreciated the fact that you have the opportunity here to take some awesome photos (which I did). But, being a claims adjuster by profession, this place surrounding the Skywalk is a claim waiting to happen. I was horrified watching all the folks leaping around on rocks, standing with their backs to the edge, milling around. But, hey! If you fall off the edge, you only have yourself to blame. Once you enter the Skywalk building, you must place paper booties over your shoes to protect the glass surface you will be walking on. Also, loose items like cell phones, cameras, and purses are not allowed on the Skywalk. Lockers are provided for those items. No photos are allowed on the Skywalk unless you purchase them from the Skywalk photographers afterward, at a price of $15.00 per photo. When I stepped out onto the glass walkway, my brain played tricks on me. I put each foot forward, and with each step (while staring down through the floor at the canyon below) my brain was screaming No! No! No! You are not supposed to be doing this! It really did seem like I was walking in the air, my stomach got that weird rollercoaster feeling. I was not afraid and I had no problem standing on the walkway, it’s just that my head was wired to tell me that this was not the place to be. The view of the canyon spans below, wondrous and majestic. It really was spectacular. We were allowed to remain on the Skywalk as long as we liked. I did feel safe, but there was a never ending stream of people filing on, making things crowded , which made the luster wear off fast.
Third shuttle stop – Guano Point. This area provided another view of the canyon. Actually we really enjoyed this shuttle stop. There is an opportunity to take a walk on a trail, check out the ruins of an old mining tramway, and get a good view of the River. There is one point you can stand upon and get a 360 degree view of the canyon. We probably spent the most time at this location.
Since it was dinnertime, we took the shuttle back to the Hualapai Village and went to the cafeteria. We enjoyed a nice full plated dinner of BBQ pork ribs, mashed potatoes, gravy, bread, beans, and a cookie. The food was really good. We were serenaded by a cowboy with a guitar that played popular oldie but goody Country tunes. It was a nice way to end our day.
The Grand Canyon Skywalk was not cheap. Our day cost $65 per person. Steve and I had been gifted some cash for Christmas, so we opted to buy an experience rather than a material object. This turned out to be a really neat gift that we will never forget. We did enjoy the day, so our recommendation for the DE is this: be aware of the cost, and treat it as a “one time life experience”.