The Grand Canyon glass walkway is one of the canyon’s most famous attractions. Located at the edge of the West Rim, the bridge lets you walk past the edge and into the abyss. The moment is absolutely gravity defying. Do it once and you can scratch space travel off your bucket list.
Tours to the walkway leave daily from Las Vegas. Transportation includes helicopter, airplane, and bus. Trips are all-inclusive and come with hotel pick up and drop off, lunch, and a professional guide. Tours range from half a day to a full day with prices starting at $120 per person.
The bridge is the centerpiece of the Grand Canyon Skywalk complex, which on completion will boast a movie theater, gift shop, several restaurants, and a VIP lounge. The complex itself sits amid a 9,000-acre area called Grand Canyon West. The Hualapai Indians own this land and when it’s developed will feature hotels, restaurants, a golf course, and a cable car to the bottom!
The glass walkway extends 70 feet past the lip of the rim. It’s a thrilling sensation knowing that the only thing standing between you and the bottom 4,000 feet below is a panel of glass. Breath deeply before looking down. I recommend holding the glass railing if you are prone to vertigo.
The bridge is a technological marvel. The $30 million Skywalk is comprised of 46 panels made up of Saint-Gobain Diamant low iron glass and Dupont SentryGlas. The railings are made of the same hybrid material but use fewer layers so it can be bent to follow the bridge’s curvature. The deck panels are reported to have cost $250,000 each.
Engineers have designed the walkway to withstand the harshest physical conditions, including Magnitude 8 earthquakes and winds over 100 miles per hour. It can support up to 71 jumbo jets simultaneously. Put another way, it can hold 800 people at once (maximum occupancy is 120).
There are lots of Grand Canyon glass walkway tours from Vegas. Many of them allow you to tack on side-trips. The most popular are:
1. Helicopter ride to the bottom
It’s a 4,000-foot descent through surreal buttes, spires, and ravines. Land on the bottom. Enjoy a Champagne picnic lunch. Explore the base.
2. Helicopter to the bottom with boat
This tour extends the helicopter ride to include a smooth-water float trip down the Colorado River.
The West Rim is the only place in the Grand Canyon where you can ride a helicopter to the bottom and land. There are no air tours between the West Rim and the South Rim. If you want a South Rim helicopter tour, you must take a 45-minute airplane flight from Vegas then transfer to a chopper at Grand Canyon Airport.
More than 200,000 people visit the bridge annually. Book your Skywalk tour as far in advance as possible. Never pay full retail price. To get the best deal, shop the Internet. I’ve seen prices slashed by as much as 35 percent. Resist completing your web booking on the phone. Commissioned sales people are on the other end of the line and it’s their job to sell you a tour at the highest price possible.