March 28, 2007 is not a day I’m going to forget in a hurry. This was the day that The Grand Canyon Skywalk opened for business. I rose super early and drove out from Las Vegas, crossing from Nevada into Arizona at the Hoover Dam and out along Highway 93, taking a left at Pierce Ferry Road and heading north-east before taking a right onto a dirt road that headed to Grand Canyon West on the lands of the Hualapai Tribe.
They seemed perhaps under prepared for the number of visitors that day. I recall the line for tickets was orderly and calm but frustratingly slow to navigate, in the main because the credit card authorization comms were very slow. I paid cash since the cash line was moving faster. Once through that I was onto a shuttle bus that took us from the ticket center near the airstrip up to the Skywalk.
Since then, they’ve proceeded with the construction of a visitor center and cafe above the horse shoe shaped bridge but back in 2007 all that was at the edge of the canyon was the bridge and a large trailer.
One of the purposes of the large trailer was to deposit loose items – bags, hats, etc. Nobody wants to lose something over the side and the Hualapai don’t want anyone throwing litter or other items over the side either. So I had to hand in my SLR gear before my walk. Indeed, you’re still requested to deposit cameras in the lockers before walking out on the bridge.
To protect the glass from scratches, we all had to put on booties over our shoes – all a bit CSI. The moment I stepped out onto the glass was the moment I decided I needed to carry a point-and-shoot (now an iPhone) with me at all times. Because others on the glass bridge were using point-and-shoot cameras to take photos looking straight down, but I didn’t have a point-and-shoot! At the time I was very annoyed but now, not so much.
As I’ve gotten older I’ve become more ‘height aware’. So most of the time I kept my feet above one of the two steel tracks that supports the glass floor, though I did take a few steps on the glass floor to pass some other people. It was freaky!
This image was taken after I took my walk. The bridge extends 70ft out from the canyon wall and the vertical drop at that point is over 4,000ft.
It’s about a two-hour drive from Las Vegas if you don’t stop and well worth taking a day out to visit. From the Grand Canyon South Rim Visitor Center it’s about a 4.5-hour drive. Oh, and their website carries a warning that Google Maps and MapQuest directions will mis-direct you to a town about 2-hours drive away!
Below is a slightly different framing of the shot that shows the muddy Colorado River at the base of the canyon. About 12 miles to the north-west of here the silt load has been measured at between three to five tons per second!
Camera: Canon EOS 5D
Lens: Canon 24-105mm f/4L IS USM AF Lens (B&H)
Processing: Lightroom 3.6
Processing: Photomatix 4.02
Processing: Photoshop CS5
Processing: Nik Software Color Efex Pro 4 Complete Edition (B&H)