Arizona September 08, 2016
This Controversial Walkway Offers An Unforgettable View Of Arizona’s Grand Canyon
The Grand Canyon is Arizona’s most visited attraction—and for good reason. It’s a place that appears to be unspoiled from modern life and the beautiful yet harsh landscape reminds us there’s more to life than the newest iPhone release. Most people tend to visit the South Rim due to its accessibility and where a majority of the services are located. The North Rim is visited less often and the western side even less so.
Today, we’re going to take a look at one particular destination on the west side of the Grand Canyon that, until fairly recently, saw few visitors: Grand Canyon West and its well-known Skywalk.
Located on the Hualapai Reservation, the Grand Canyon Skywalk is a large, U-shaped bridge that extends 70 feet over the canyon’s edge. The most notable factor of the walkway? It’s glass pathway that allows visitors to view a portion of the canyon’s depths some 500 to 800 feet right below them.
I have a fear of heights so just the thought of taking a step onto that walkway sends a shiver up my spine and makes my leg muscles tense. However, there’s no need to worry about the walkway collapsing under you. It was designed to support 100 pounds per square feet and several dampers help distribute that weight across the entire walkway. It can also withstand an earthquake rated an 8.0 magnitude.
Visitors exchange their shoes for cloth booties and leave personal items—including cameras—in storage lockers all in an effort to protect the glass and to prevent items from dropping over the edge of the walkway.
In fact, here's one video that shows what walking across Skywalk looks like. Just jump to the first minute mark or so for the experience. (The videographer was able to get away with using a camera because it was mounted to the helmet he wore.)
The walkway doesn’t exist without its controversies. One of the most prominent includes the fact that any development occurred within the Grand Canyon. Environmentalists and others who admire the canyon’s natural beauty saw the construction as spoiling a treasure. For many members of the Hualapai tribe, it was a defacement of sacred land while other members claimed development was essential for surviving in a modern world.
There was also a controversy of select members of the tribe taking ownership of Skywalk without notifying the development company who backed the project. Since then, the company received $28 million in damages.
For more information about Grand Canyon West and the Skywalk, you can check out
the destination’s website.
Have an itch to visit the Grand Canyon now? Now is a great time to explore the canyon’s waterfalls and you can find more information about them on our recent article
8 Grand Canyon Waterfalls In Arizona You Need To Hike To Right Now.