The Skywalk is that U-shaped structure that shoots out over a rim of the Grand Canyon, about 120 miles south of Vegas on land owned by the Hualapai tribe. You may have seen one of its many recent write-ups. This daring little project gives folks a chance to stand there in the sky, so to speak, and look out into the canyon. And look down into the canyon. And feel a little gitchy while doing so.
There appear to be many who are willing to give this particular thrill a shot. When I arrived at the parking lot after traveling through one of the greatest Joshua tree forests ever, I was quickly struck by the hurly burly din of the scene. There were at least 12 tour buses from Vegas in the parking lot, and when you combined those with the whining, obnoxious noise of the ever hustling helicopters, busily flying folks into the Mighty Chasm and back (129 bucks for 15 minutes), you basically had an experience of true anti-serenity. But I was in for the full ride, even if I was slightly dismayed at the bovinity of it all. I paid my $40 “entrance to the rez” fee, and got on the shuttle, the only way to get the five miles down the road to the Skywalk.
We unloaded, scurried over to the edge of the Canyon, and took a gander at this doodad. Built for $30 million and open since March 2007, the Skywalk takes people 70 feet out from the edge of the Canyon, which allows them to gawk from a perch of 3,600 feet above the river. It was built to safely handle 100 people at a time, even if each one is a morbidly obese American tourist. OK, I’m ready.
Well, not so fast there, buddy boy. One more ticket to buy. This is the one that is sold to those who have seen the Skywalk, believe in the Skywalk, and actually want to get on the Skywalk. It’s another $30, bringing the total tab to $70. Urk.
OK, I cough up the dough and finally creep out there. And immediately get weird. There’s something that’s not quite right about all this; standing on plexiglass, looking down thousands of feet to the sandstone below. My body gently freaked on an involuntary, visceral level. Sphincters began to lightly yet lovingly clench. Yep, the ole bod, instantly out of its comfort zone, needed a lot of sweet talk and reassurance from my evil brain to get it to keep walking out thataway as opposed to turning around and hotfootin’ it back thisaway.
But body and brain eventually made peace, and we both then cruised out to the edge of This Thing and just sorta hung out. And got used to it. Sorta.
In the end, it was fine. And yeah, it was spectacular. I mean, that’s a given. I wouldn’t label it a “must-see” attraction, necessarily. But, if you’re hot to see it, help yourself. Just don’t expect the experience to be “Muir-like.”