High above the Grand Canyon
Skywalk Offers the Brave Dazzling Views
Visitors to the Grand Canyon should brace themselves for a dazzling new tourist attraction: a glass-bottom observation deck touted as an engineering marvel will offer a rocking view 4,000 feet straight down to the canyon floor.
It is not for the squeamish. But on Tuesday, on the very rim of the Grand Canyon, a brand new observation deck was officially presented -- with a glass floor. Now, visitor will be able to see 4,000 feet straight down to the bottom of the canyon.
The glass and steel, horseshoe-shaped deck extends 70 feet from the edge of the canyon and offers brave visitors a brand new perspective on one of the world's most stunning natural attractions. Buzz Aldrin, the second person to walk on the moon, was the first to try out the new platform on Tuesday.
The $30 million Skywalk was built by Las Vegas developers with the permission of the local Hualapai tribe who live 90 miles west of the national park. The aerial attraction will be the center-piece of a budding tourism industry that includes helicopter tours, river rafting, a cowboy town and a museum of replica Indian homes.
The Skywalk had previously been subject of a heated debate about the preservation of the area, which critics fear will be transformed from majestic canyon into a tourist trap.
After years of consideration, the Hualapai tribal leaders decided that the financial benefits to the poverty-stricken community would outweigh the disadvantages.
"When we have so much poverty and so much unemployment, we have to do something," said Sheri Yellowhawk, a former tribal councilwoman overseeing the project. The tribe has been promised a cut of the profits by Las Vegas businessman David Jin who fronted the money to build the Skywalk.
Those interested in visiting the attraction don't need just strong nerves, however. A full wallet is also a prerequisite: the walk in the clouds costs a hefty $25.