The colourful and steep-sided Grand Canyon was carved through the rocks of the Colorado Plateau by the turbulent Colorado River running through Arizona. It is mostly within the Grand Canyon National Park, one of the first in the United States.
It took around 6 million years to create the 446 kilometre long canyon which ranges in width from 6.4 to 24 kilometres and has a depth of 1.6 kilometres. Its beauty and size are quite humbling.
During prehistoric times, the area was inhabited by native Americans who built settlements within the canyon and its many caves. The first European known to have seen it was Garcia Lopez de Cardenas who arrived from Spain in 1540.
The canyon was pretty much unknown until after the Civil War and it is thought it was named The Grand Canyon in 1868 by John Wesley Powell, the one-armed Civil War veteran. The Paiutes called it Kaibab (Mountain Lying Down). Whatever its name, it is totally awe-inspiring and was named a World Heritage Site in 1979.
It is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the United States and offers an endless choice of activities cycling, boating, rafting, camping, fishing, riding, rock climbing, hiking, snow sports and wildlife spotting just a few of them.
Grand Canyon Skywalk was the dream, and now a reality, of David Jin. He said “just like an eagle can fly into the Grand Canyon, my vision was to enable visitors to walk the path of the eagle, and become surrounded by the Grand Canyon while standing at the edge of the Glass Bridge. The bridge gives us a chance to share the wonder of the canyon that the Hualapai Tribe has graciously offered. My dream was to find a balance between form, function and nature. Once a dream … now a reality”.
Grand Canyon West is owned by the Hualapai native American tribe. The 404,000 hectare reservation is 190 kms from Las Vegas, Nevada and 102 kms north-west of Kingman, Arizona. It is the only location in the canyon where the river at the bottom can be accessed by helicopter. It is also possible to drive there.
Other things of interest at Grand Canyon West include a walking tour of authentic dwellings of the Hualapai, Havasupai, Navajo, Plains and Hopi Indians; the Hualapai Ranch, a western town featuring performances, barbecues, horseback and wagon rides; an amphitheatre showcasing Native American cultural performances; Hummer and horseriding tours across the canyon rim.
Construction of Skywalk began in March, 2004 and it opened on March 28, 2007. It has already welcomed more than 100,000 visitors. Enhancements are made each day to ensure the satisfaction of every visitor.
The Glass Bridge is suspended 1220 metres above the Colorado River on the very edge of the Grand Canyon. The final test was conducted in May 2005 and the structure passed engineering requirements by 400%, enabling it to withstand the weight of 71 fully loaded Boeing 747 aircraft, weighing more than 32 million kilograms.
It is able to sustain winds in excess of 160 kph from eight directions, as well as an 8.0 magnitude earthquake within 80 kilometres. More than ½ a million kilograms of steel went into the construction.