Grand Canyon’s glory easy to see at Skywalk

Hundreds of tourists daily arrive by bus, car and aircraft at Grand Canyon West, a portion of the famous chasm cut more than a mile through northern Arizona by the Colorado River.

Although most of the 277-mile canyon is preserved within Grand Canyon National Park, 108 miles along the river’s southern bank is part of the Hualapai Tribal Nation’s million-acre reservation.

In 2007, the Hualapai opened the Skywalk, a horseshoe-shaped, glass-bottom walkway cantilevered 70 feet over the depths of the canyon.

The views from this vantage point are breathtaking. The closest ledges lie 500 to 800 feet below the rim, but the views drop thousands of feet down to the river and overlook many miles of eroded canyon formations.

The Skywalk immediately attracted worldwide attention to the Hualapai and created more jobs on the reservation.

Just 120 miles away, Las Vegas is a major hub for scenic flights, bus excursions and car trips to Grand Canyon West and the Skywalk. Many Southern Nevadans opt to make the about 2½-hour drive in their own vehicles.

Follow U.S. Highway 93 from Las Vegas into Arizona, crossing the Colorado River on the bridge just south of Hoover Dam. Watch for the turnoff to Dolan Springs-Pierce Ferry Road about 40 miles southeast of the Nevada-Arizona border.

Drive north on this road for 28 miles to Diamond Bar Road, the county route accessing Grand Canyon West.

Only partially paved, the 21-mile road includes about 10 miles of bumpy dirt road through an extensive Joshua tree forest. If you use a truck or other high-clearance vehicle and drive carefully, the road is safe enough, but passenger cars may encounter hazards.

Another option is to buy $30 tickets for the shuttle to Grand Canyon West available near the junction at Diamond Bar Road.

In any case, you can’t take your car past the visitor center at the air terminal on the reservation. Everyone must pay $20 per vehicle to park there.

Check out the various ticket packages in advance at Purchase online or at the air terminal.

The least expensive package starts at $30, but it ends up costing almost $45 after taxes, fees and surcharges. It does not include the Skywalk, which costs another $45 after taxes. Some visitors cannot bring themselves to step out on the transparent walkway.

Other packages include the Skywalk. The most expensive option is a tour with a tribal guide. All packages include the hop-on, hop-off shuttle, and some packages include meals.

Investigate other types of attractions at Grand Canyon West, such as guided horseback rides, helicopter and airplane tours and pontoon boat rides. Overnight accommodations are available at a nearby guest ranch.

As visitors stroll the walkways at each viewpoint, they can see costumed Native American dancers, hear traditional music, watch craftsmen and artists at work and learn about Native American history and customs, all free of charge. A visit to this unique place will be time well spent.

Margo Bartlett Pesek’s column appears on Sundays.

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