March 22, 2007
I am Luke Skywalker
It’s 7am and we’re rushing through the lobby of the Golden Nugget Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas trying to catch our bus. The bus is a white coach bus with the driver standing out in front. Turns out we were the first ones there. This is the bus that is going to take us to the Grand Canyon Skywalk for the “First Walk” ceremony with Dr. Buzz Aldrin. We’re very excited.
About a year ago, I first heard about the Skywalk through an email that suspiciously looked fake (you know the ones). I found out from Snopes.com that it wasn’t fake but I couldn’t find anything to prove that it wasn’t. Eventually, I had poked around enough to get added to the press release mailing list so every now and again, I would get an email with the latest news. First about the progress on the steel welding, then the glass rails being delivered on site, then the “jack and roll” process. Finally, as the opening date drew closer I (and hundreds of other media types) were invited to the “First Walk” ceremony.
One of the questions people first ask me is “Did you have to pay?” No, the event was free and yes, I did go on the Skywalk. I did opt to take advantage of the group transportation which cost $25 per person (round trip) but considering that the drive from Las Vegas to the actual Skywalk is about 2-1/2 hours, it was well worth it (a bargin even). If you drive there yourself, you will drive to the Grand Canyon West Airport, park, and take a shuttle bus to the Skywalk itself. Actually, if you plan on going on the Skywalk, you’ll have to sign up for the one package that includes the Skywalk which costs $74.95. This includes lunch and transportation to three sites on the reservation, Eagle Point, Guano Point and Hualapai Ranch – the Skywalk is at Eagle Point.
I’m told that there are a few restrictions when it comes to the Skywalk. First, no base-jumping. Of course, since there are no railings on the edge of the Canyon, there’s nothing to stop you from jumping next to the Skywalk. Keep in mind though, there’s no way out of the canyon so they will have to come down and rescue you with a helicopter and I hear they don’t rush anything so it may be a while before they do.
You also won’t be able to take pictures from the Skywalk. This is an income generating project and one way they plan to make money is to sell photos from the Skywalk. This may seem unfair or ridiculous but if you don’t like it, you can build your own skywalk and take all the pictures you want. You know what I think is unfair…they have to truck their water in. There is no water on site. Back to the pictures. They will have lockers for you to place your personal items before going on the Skywalk.
The Skywalk is currently non-accessible. That is, there is no wheelchair lift or ramp to get onto the Skywalk. I think this will change once they build the Visitors Center and they may create a temporary solution until then but right now, you have to climb about 10 feet of stairs to get up and another 10 feet to get down.
You also won’t be able to carry a baby onto the Skywalk. You just put them in the locker with your camera and get them out when you’re done – just kidding about the baby locker. Only children 4-years old and up will be allowed on the Skywalk. I think the idea here is that everyone on the Skywalk has to be able to climb the stairs and walk around on their own.
This post is already getting a little long so I’ll have to tell you the rest later. I’ll upload more Skywalk photos and tell you why you should avoid Heli-USA and Grand Canyon West Ranch (notice the word Ranch) – hint: it has to do with the 14-miles of dirt road you have to travel to get to the Skywalk.