Grand Canyon West

January 8, 2008 at 2:44 pm Leave a comment


I’ve been to Vegas so many times that I’m pretty bored with it (I’m not a big gambler).  I wanted to do something very different on this past trip. I found my answer when I heard about the Grand Canyon West Skywalk earlier this year.

The Skywalk is an architectural marvel.  It’s a u-shaped glass walkway that extends 65 feet beyond the edge of the canyon.  At the edge, you’re standing 4,000 feet above the floor.  I love that they used tinted glass on the edges; it makes it feel much safer for scaredy cats like myself.  Visitors wear shoe covers to try to prevent scratches on the glass.  They’re also not allowed to bring cameras (a pic of us on the walk is, thus, coming soon – our friends have it ($25!)).

Grand Canyon West is a tourist attraction run by the Hualapai tribe.  It has three points of interest for visitors (not counting the main gift shop):  Eagle Point, Guano Point, and the Hualapai Ranch.  You park at the visitors center and take one of their buses.  There are 2 routes – one goes to the Ranch and the other goes to Guana and Eagle Points.  Lunch is included – either at Guana Point or the Ranch.

We headed straight for the Skywalk (Eagle Point).  We took a ton of pictures, went on the Skywalk, and then headed for lunch at Guano Point.  Our picnic table (yes, you have to eat outside regardless of weather; there’s a roof of sorts for part of the area, but I wouldn’t count on it keeping rain out) had the most amazing view of anywhere I’ve ever eaten.  Wow.  Since we’d Skywalked and eaten, we skipped the ranch and headed back to Vegas.

I loved our trip.  It was expensive ($75 pp) and they’re still working on improvements, but it was one of those things you do one time in your life and you’re glad that you did.

Words of warning:
This is not the most famous rim. Grand Canyon West is owned by the Hualapai tribe. It is not part of the National Park System, and the depth of the canyon is much less than at the more famous south rim.

It’s expensive. GCW costs a lot more than the $20/car fee to see the south rim. The Halupai currently charge $50 per person to poke around and another $25 to set foot on the Skywalk; yes, that’s a minimum of $75 to get on the Skywalk if that’s all you’re interested in. Sure, you get lunch, but $75 is a lot just to walk on a glass walkway and eat some lunch.

The road in is rough. Unless you can figure out the park and ride (we didn’t see a sign for it), you’ll drive for about 14 miles on an unpaved road before you park for the visit. (They shuttle you in buses from the parking lot to the 3 different sites.) From the massive number of complaints I’ve read online about the road, it must be a real nightmare after it rains. It’s probably also a lot worse if there’s heavy traffic. They do, however, grade it every morning and plan to pave it. We got there fairly early (arrived about 10 am MST) and thought the road was pretty good considering that it was a really long unpaved road. It was definitely worse when we left (a bit after noon). We did not, however, see anyone with flat tires or any other car trouble. If you’re nervous, do the park and ride or get picked up in Vegas.

Lunch isn’t gourmet. I also read a lot of complaints about the food. There must be a lot of picky eaters out there! Heck, I’m a little picky, and I liked it. Anyway, I’ll tell you what we got at Guano Point so you’ll know what to expect. (You can also eat at the ranch, but I read that this was the better option. It was also on the same bus route as the Skywalk.) We walked into a fairly open building where two guys were dishing up plates. Our options were: bbq beef, grilled chicken breasts, rice, corn on the cob, tortillas, and macaroons. I tore up my chicken, put some hot sauce on it, and put it on a tortilla with some rice. I thought it was pretty good, especially considering the facilities. They also had a nice selection of drinks: juices, lemonade, tea (hot and cold), and coffee. The only reason I include this section as a warning is because so many people have complained about it. Just go in with the knowledge that your meal won’t be worth $50 (or even $20) and get over it. The views, in my opinion, do make it worth the money – and the trip.

Keep the time zone difference in mind.  If you’re coming from Vegas, you’re on Pacific Standard.  GCW is in Arizona, so they’re on Mountain Standard Time.  Arizona also doesn’t observe Daylight Savings  Time, so they don’t “fall back.”

That said – go!  And don’t be grumpy!  It’s much closer to Vegas than the south rim.

Our pictures are here.  We had been playing with the settings, so the first several are kinda yucky (too much noise – wrong iso).  They got better after I figured out that the setting was bad.  We still have a lot to learn (and I want filters, dang it!).


Entry filed under: TheStates.

TTT*: Finding a hotel room in Vegas Destination Friday: London, part 2

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