Tuesday

Daytrip - Grand Canyon West Skywalk

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Destination: Grand Canyon West – Skywalk
Distance from Point of Origin: 125 miles.
Estimated (One Way) Travel Time: 3 hours and 25 minutes.
Directions: From the Stratosphere Casino head northeast on Las Vegas Blvd about 3 miles and bear right to merge onto US-515/93/95 south towards Boulder City. Follow US-93/95 for 20 miles and turn left to stay on US-93 South. Go over the by-pass bridge into Arizona and stay on US-93 South for 53 miles. Turn left onto Pierce Ferry Rd. After 29 miles turn right onto Diamond Bar Rd. Stay on Diamond Bar Rd for 16 miles until you cross into the Indian reservation land where you continue straight onto Buck and Doe Rd/Co Rd 7 for another 6 miles.

General Description: The Grand Canyon Skywalk is located at Grand Canyon West Rim, on the Hualapai Nation. The skywalk itself is a horseshoe shaped cantilever bridge on the edge of a side canyon in the Grand Canyon West area of the main canyon. In addition to ‘Walking the Sky’ at the Skywalk at Eagle Point where you can watch traditional performances by Hualapai tribe members, you get to go to Guano Point where there is a “Highpoint Hike” that offers some nice panoramic canyon views of the Grand Canyon and Colorado River and the remnants of a historic tram that stretched 8,800 feet across the canyon to a guano mine discovered in the 1930’s.
Special Attraction or Points of Interest: The Skywalk at Grand Canyon West is a unique glass-bottomed cantilever observation deck that spans 70 feet over the canyon's rim and 4,000 feet above the canyon floor. Its elevation is about 4,783 feet; while the elevation of the Colorado River in the base of the canyon 1,160 feet. The height of a vertical drop directly under the skywalk is between 500 feet and 800 feet. The bridge deck is made of diamant low-iron glass and structural interlayer glass consisting of (6) layers. The bridge glass railings are made with the same glass as the deck but fewer layers (3) bent to follow the walkway’s curvature. The glass railings are 5 feet 2 inches tall and have been designed for high wind pressures. The bridge, including its counterweights, weighs around 1.6 million pounds. Even though the bridge was designed to carry (822) people that weigh 200 pounds each without overstress, maximum occupancy is limited to 120 people.
Primary Activity: Photographing Nature.
Secondary Activities: Hiking

Elevation: 4,783 feet.
Best Time To Visit: Open year round. Try to avoid the heat of the summer months.
Difficulty: Easy.
Facilities: Restroom and Food.
Estimated Round-trip Time: Driving time is slowed due to the fact that the last 25 mile is on a graded dirt road. One should plan 9 hours, giving a couple of hours for picture taking.
More Info On: http://www.grandcanyonskywalk.com/


03/24/2011 Trip Notes: I visited Grand Canyon West and the Skywalk with my friend Jim Herring in late October of 2010. Though this was my first time to this location, it was my fourth trip to the Grand Canyon and I must say each location is very unique in its own way. Due to highway construction on the Arizona side of the Hoover Dam, the normal 5-1/2 hour drive down and back took us 8 hours. That coupled with the high price of admission (a rip-off in my opinion) and stormy weather that hampered our picture taking, it put kind of a damper on the whole day.

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Eagle Rock (located at Eagle Point) on the west rim, aptly named for its shape, is considered sacred by the Hualapai Indians.
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The above late afternoon picture was taken along the hiking trail at Guano Point. Below are shots of what remains of the old guano mining operation.
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The Bat Cave (guano mine) was apparently discovered in the 1930s by a passing boater. Based upon a reputable mining engineer's estimate that the cave contained 100,000 tons of nitrogen-rich guano for fertilizer, the U.S. Guano Corporation bought the property around 1957. Eventually, an aerial tramway was built from the mine to "Guano Point" on the South Rim, with the cable head house built on land leased from the Hualapai tribe. The cableway crossed the river, with a main span of 7,500 feet and a vertical lift of 2,500 feet. It took nearly 6 miles of 1.5 inch steel cable to support and pull a cable car large enough to transport 2,500 pounds of guano. The same car was used to transport the miners to and from work. From the cable head, the guano was hauled by truck to Kingman, Arizona and packaged for retail sale. After several mishaps, the company's total investment up to $3,500,000. Unfortunately, the mining engineer's estimate of the potential size of the guano deposit proved wildly optimistic: the cave contained only about 1,000 tons of minable guano, not the 100,000 tons of the engineer's estimate. Mining ceased in early 1960 when guano was selling for only about $100 a ton.

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My friend Jim Herring  and myself in front of Eagle Rock