Today, much to my surprise, I read that a tribe of Native Americans with a reservation along the canyon’s south rim will be opening an attraction on and over the canyon that will rattle, in my humble opinion, that natural balance of that beautiful place.
The key piece of the development Grand Canyon West will be a 70-foot long cantilevered walkway arching out over the canyon. It will be more than 4,000 feet over the Colorado River below at the canyon’s base.
The Hualapai Tribe will be charging visitors $25 a pop to walk out over the canyon on the Skyway. It hopes that the attraction will be a way to generate revenue for the tribe, whose people have a 50 percent unemployment rate living in the isolated location along the canyon. Construction of the glass-tube-bridge is nearly done and visitors should be able to start walking out on it in March.
Currently, the tribe operates flyover trips above the canyon and also pontoon boat rides on the canyon’s river. Eventually, it hopes to have a cable car tram to transport people up and down the canyon walls without the need for daylong hikes. Longer range plans call for a hotel, shopping and golf course to be developed near the Skywalk.
The reservation sits outside of the national park boundaries, so the tribe doesn’t have to comply with regulations that cover national parks. But since the Colorado River flows through the park and reservation, activity on the river does need to meet park guidelines.
All that said, there seem to be a lot more questions than answers over this situation. Will this kind of development take away from natural qualities of the canyon? I think so. What do you think?
The tribe is using one of its geographical advantages to try to help improve the lives of its people. Do you think this is a good thing or a bad thing? Share your ideas and comments here.