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Skywalk Opens 4,000 Feet Above Grand Canyon Floor

Skywalk1

A 30,000 square-foot skywalk jutting out over the Grand Canyon which has been under construction for three years has been opened to the media and will open to the general public next week. Former astronauts Buzz Aldrin and John Herrington took the first steps on the structure yesterday. Aldrin called it a "magnificent first walk."

Skywalk3The skywalk features a clear glass floor which affords visitors a vertiginous view 4,000 feet straight down to the canyon floor. It can withstand a magnitude 8 earthquake.

According to the AP, "The tribe will include access to the deck in a variety of tour packages ranging from $49.95 to $199.00. They'll allow up to 120 people at a time to look down to the canyon floor thousands of feet below, a vantage point more than twice as high as the world's tallest buildings."

It was financed by a Las Vegas tour company owner, who will initially share admissions proceeds with the Native American Hualapai tribe. Their one million acre reservation is the site of the new attraction, and they will eventually receive all proceeds:

"The 2,300-member Hualapai is among the tribes in the United States that do not operate casinos, a $23 billion industry for Native Americans. Although more tribes recently have diversified their business ventures, fearful that relying too heavily on gambling is risky, the Hualapai tribe said it had little choice but to capitalize on its most valuable possession: the southwest rim of the Grand Canyon. 'We're land rich and dirt poor,' said Waylon Honga, chief operating officer of the Grand Canyon Resort Corp., the entity the Hualapai created in 1994 to pursue tourism ventures."

Here's a short video about its construction.

Environmentalists have been against the plan from the beginning, saying it destroys the natural beauty of the canyon.

Said former Grand Canyon National Park superintendent Robert Arnberger: "I think it's a real travesty. I understand the need for the tribe to consider the economics of the tribe, but . . . it desecrates the very place the Hualapai hold so dear."

For those of you scared of heights, here's a site that describes the welding process for the structure.

Skywalk2

Incidentally, Tracey Thorn has a gorgeous new album out with a track called "Grand Canyon". It's not the geological formation that she's talking about, but rather "the hole inside your heart no one can ever fill." Amazing track on a brilliant new album.

Tribe's Canyon Skywalk May Bring Riches, but Also Deepens Divide [washington post]
Buzz Aldrin keynotes Grand Canyon Skywalk opening ceremony [ap]

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Comments

  1. 1.) No amount of welding would make me comfortable enough to walk out on that thing and 2.) It's a scar on a beautiful natural wonder.

    Posted by: shane | Mar 21, 2007 10:19:19 AM


  2. Shane, I agree-somewhat. I find it beautiful-albeit obtrusive. I say go for it. I have been to the Canyon thousands of times-this will not cause any 'ugliness'. If the native Americans want to do this on their land-why not?

    Posted by: Otto | Mar 21, 2007 10:26:44 AM


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    Posted by: goblin | Mar 21, 2007 10:39:30 AM


  4. I think by itself the structure is not an eyesore. If Tshirt shops and tacky trinket shops spring up around the rim then yes, it's a travesty.

    But the Grand Canyon has scenic overlooks everywhere and at each location there are binoculars, guard rails, signs, etc.... why not take those down if we're worried about ugly structures?

    Posted by: mark m | Mar 21, 2007 10:44:08 AM


  5. It is a scar on the landscape at that particular point but the Grand Canyon covers a vast area and 99.9% of it remains untouched so I say what the heck. I won't be walking out on it though.

    Posted by: phil | Mar 21, 2007 10:46:17 AM


  6. Needless to say, I still wouldn't pay 50-200 bucks to do it.

    Posted by: Jay | Mar 21, 2007 10:50:16 AM


  7. I say, go for it Tribemembers. This may sound Republican of me, but if it comes down to a people living in poverty vs ruining someone's aesthetic preference- then the decision is pretty obvious to me.

    Posted by: HUGO | Mar 21, 2007 10:51:19 AM


  8. It's their land that happens to abut a national park. Why not capitalize on it? Though I would never consider going out on the thing (why only 120 people at a time...?), if they can generate revenue, great! It sure beats a cigarette smoke-ladened casino.

    Of course, if there was OIL under that thar rock...

    Posted by: Rad | Mar 21, 2007 11:00:11 AM


  9. Just for clarification, the NBC and ABC Evening News reported last night that you can walk the plank for $25 a pop. There are higher priced packages, but you can make the loop by itslef for the lower price.

    Posted by: Wayne | Mar 21, 2007 11:05:46 AM


  10. more power to the folk... but the price is way more steep than the view... and have to wonder how long the glass-floor will remain clear after so much foot-traffic.
    for the tribe's sake, i hope the skywalk venture pans-out.

    Posted by: A.J. | Mar 21, 2007 11:06:25 AM


  11. Is the skywalk going to eventually blend into the natural landscape as the artist's rendition suggests?

    Posted by: Tyler | Mar 21, 2007 11:11:42 AM


  12. I agree with Hugo. But like Shane said, there isn't enough welding in the WORLD to get me on that thing! How long before the suicide reports start coming in? And I'm sure Hollywood will go bonkers using it for James Bond fight scenes.

    Posted by: soulbrotha | Mar 21, 2007 12:11:32 PM


  13. I think this will revolutionize the way people commit suicide. Did anyone else notice how low the railing was?

    Posted by: Jake | Mar 21, 2007 12:35:36 PM


  14. The Hualapai have lived in and around that canyon for tens of thousands of years, long before anyone thought of making it a national park. If anyone is prepared to make the decision about how to treat the land and the canyon, it's them.

    As far as impact, it's a pretty small footprint, since it overhangs the canyon wall. Knowing the road planner at the tribe, the parking lots and access roads will be top notch and as low-impact as possible as well.

    And the park service official can eat it about telling the Hualapai what they consider sacred. Too bad they didn't think about that when they stole the canyon in the first place.

    Posted by: dcndn | Mar 21, 2007 1:09:43 PM


  15. I believe they give you special shoes to wear so that you dont scuff up or scratch the glass.

    And apparently there is a thin outer glass wall that is higher than the one on the walk way, so you have to be pretty ambitious to commit suicide this way.

    Given all that however, ain't no f*cking way I'm walkin on that.

    Posted by: Gregoire | Mar 21, 2007 1:11:46 PM


  16. Re: suicide. It looks pretty low, but Gregoire says there's a sneeze guard. Someone could also not pay 50 dollars and just run over the side 10 feet to the side of the walk. Not as showy though, I suppose.

    Posted by: dcndn | Mar 21, 2007 1:26:09 PM


  17. This entire construction is a shame and should never have been allowed. Now people can litter right INTO the Canyon. It also tells me that money changes everything - even the Natives believe in the land as being MOTHER EARTH.
    Next step will be a cable car going down to Phantom Ranch - hope I didn't give you another idea how to destroy the beauty of nature.

    Posted by: Manfred Speer | Mar 21, 2007 2:15:08 PM


  18. Thanks Andy for the 'Arjan writes' tip. Am always looking for good new stuff and this is a great little blog.

    Posted by: atheist | Mar 21, 2007 2:26:32 PM


  19. Holy crap! I nearly vomited just looking at the picture. No thank you Mr. Native American; I'll just stay on solid ground. So who will be the first to try to base jump off this thing? I can also see a future visit for Amazing Race contestants coming up.

    Posted by: Bill | Mar 21, 2007 2:29:16 PM


  20. I am as big an environmentalist as anybody. But that stupid skywalk does not scar the face of a majestic natural wonder. Nature doesn't let anything happen it can't afford to let happen. You drive a car don't you? you walk paved walkways don't you? ski down mountains don't you? Bring on more tourism to VEGAS! As a matter of fact, Im gonna tell everyone my hotel booking secret when I come to Vegas. I get rooms on the strip for like $45 a night. Check out www. reservediscountrooms.com. and quit bitching about things you don't know or care about!

    Posted by: Michael | Mar 21, 2007 7:44:31 PM


  21. tracey thorn's music is beautiful....just as there have been wonderful sounds on arjan's site....with the quote from tracey, i'm glad that life hasn't been circumvented with reality blah-blah, today's lesson plan of shade or more shade, car wreck obsession, culture of war, and plastic surgery -- when a detachment from the collective LIE....the trash that it is.....would allow a variation in riches that has been submerged in plenty of "dirt".

    i read about that skyviewing awhile ago....glad that it's there. any news on the high-line??

    i imagine that would be a genius view....probably would be good for someone with a brain tumor -- it may draw comparisons to the ocean, yet, maybe illuminate how petty are these limitations of humanity that pose as progression.

    Posted by: ricardo | Mar 21, 2007 8:45:19 PM


  22. I attended the opening of the Skywalk with the rest of the media flurry. Let me tell you: It's awesome. And it's nowhere near as scary to walk on as people would assume. In fact, it's quite exhilirating. I strongly suggest EVERYONE check it out and try it once before completely denouncing it. You know what they say: Don't knock it till you tried it.

    Posted by: Kim | Mar 21, 2007 9:20:23 PM


  23. I wish the tribe luck, but this thing just doesn't seem to have widespread appeal. The only positive comment on this entire thread is from someone who has been on it. No one else seems interested in doing it, whether because of cost, queasiness, or safety concerns. I get unnerved walking on the catwalk at the SFMOMA, and it's only five stories high...so there's no way I'd ever do this.

    Posted by: Paul | Mar 24, 2007 4:06:05 PM


  24. Very cool, can't wait to check it out. Gonna have to post a blog about this myself for Adventure Out clients.

    Posted by: AdventureOut | Mar 25, 2007 11:11:45 PM


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