When I was in the sixth grade, my family drove across country from Texas to visit the Grand Canyon. Somehow despite being three hyper spastic children and two anxious parents, we, managed to survive the road trip. Until one of us stepped too close to the ledge at the Grand Canyon and all hell broke loose. I’ll never forget a nearby British woman’s observation, “Oh, loo-ok, they’re fighting!” This was 1998. Had we visited after March, 2007, we might have encountered the Grand Canyon Skywalk, a horseshoe shaped walkway that extends 66 feet over the canyon wall in Arizona. It’s possible the Skywalk might have spared our vacation from falling into the Grand Canyon. But even if it didn’t, it sure would have made for an epically picturesque fight!
Whether your family is also mildly dysfunctional and could use a soothing secure place encased in glass when you visit, you’re looking for a romantic spot, a great photo-opportunity, or inner peace, there are more than enough reasons to add it to your bucket list.
These are my seven favorite:
The thrilling view: It’s like Wile E. Coyote’s mid-air view of the canyon!
The Skywalk at the Grand Canyon stands approximately 4,770 feet above the Colorado River. Its glass wall and glass floor panels make it essentially a completely unobstructed view. Kind of like a glass bottom boat, but not.
It’s a stunning technical achievement.
The Skywalk is now one of the most recognized cantilever systems in the world. The team that created it included architects, geotechnical engineers and a geologist. National geographic even filmed its construction.
It weighs roughly 1.2 million pounds and its glass railings were designed to withstand high wind pressures and seismic forces. Think about it. That’s a feat!
Fun fact: The 96 2.5 inch diameter high strength anchors that are grouted 46 feet into the bedrock to secure it are created by DYWIDAG Systems International, pronounced: Doo-Wee-Dag. Where else can you stand and know you’re supported by Doo-Wee-Dag?
It supports the Hualapai Indian Tribe.
The project was initially conceived by David Jin, an independent entrepreneur with a history of assisting the Hualapai (a tribe of Native Americans who live in the Mountains of Arizona) in their tourism ventures. Jin built it at his own expense with permission from the Hualapai and turned it over to them. While not all members are on board with the tourist attraction, the money generated from it supports the 2,000 resident reservation, which has a 50% unemployment rate. So far the Skywalk’s hosted approximately 2 million visitors.
The cost of constructing the Skywalk was roughly 31 million dollars. The glass (selected, in part, for its clarity) was imported from Germany. It’ so high-end, astronauts Buzz Aldrin and John Herrington attended the opening ceremony.
It’s safe! Also, possibly the ideal place to conquer your fear of heights
The Grand Canyon Skywalk’s foundation was built to support the equivalent of 71 passenger-filled Boeing 747 aircrafts. It was also built to withstand an 8.0 magnitude earthquake within 50 miles. And even though it was designed to carry 822 people (at 200 pounds each— oh, America!), the maximum occupancy is 120 people at a time. That’s pretty darn safe.
It’s not far from Vegas.
It’s only about a two hour drive from Vegas. Why not ditch the casinos and take a gamble with nature?
It’s just the beginning. Catch it before it becomes more developed.
There are plans in the works for a larger Grand Canyon Skywalk complex, which would include restaurants, a museum, movie theater, hotels, a golf course and even a cable car to ferry visitors from the canyon rim to the Colorado river. Catch the Skywalk now while it’s still its own destination.
Did I miss anything? Feel free to share your Skywalk stories, or if you can one-up mine— your own family vacation drama.