The Park Service Versus the Skywalk

Grand Canyon SkywalkI have never written about the Grand Canyon Skywalk on this website. I have tried to stay away from that topic primarily because the Skywalk isn't associated with the National Park Service. The Skywalk is built outside the park entirely on Hulapai land, on a part of the canyon rim to the southeast of the nearest park boundary. But, a friend of mine who works at Grand Canyon National Park came through town recently, and he told me that while he was here, four separate people asked him about the Skywalk. And so, even though the park and the Skywalk have no actual relationship to each other, the media and marketing of the bridge has made a connection between the two in the minds of most folks who follow the news. I'd love to know how many times the Park Ranger at the Grand Canyon information desk gets asked about which trail leads to the Skywalk this summer. My bet would be a lot.

I wrote about this non-existent NPS/Skywalk relationship in my most recent Frommers.com newsletter article entitled "How to Skywalk Above the Grand Canyon". I try to create a fair look at the differences between the conservation objective of the National Park at the Grand Canyon, and the for-profit objective of the Skywalk. As I was putting the story together, I learned of an interesting argument between Horace Albright and Steve Mather in the early days of the park. The two argued about whether it was appropriate to build a cable-car tram across the Grand Canyon. The idea was rejected, but not before debate. Interesting, huh? You can read a little more about that episode here (3/4 down the page).

If you choose to read my Frommer's article, check out the other National Park articles while you are there in today's newsletter. You'll see some info on Cape Cod National Seashore, some current lodging deals in the parks, and an article about 11 day-hikes scattered around the system written by Kurt Repanshek of the National Parks Traveler.

And, by the way, if you are interested in visiting the Skywalk, take a look at this blog entry written by a visitor early last month. His description of the place has made its way around the internet. As of right now, he's got 224 comments on the piece. And, if you still haven't had enough information on the Skywalk, check out this Julie Cart article she had written for the LA Times back in February.

Comments

I'm sure for years to come it will be like the, "Where's the tree I can drive through?" question at SEKI.
Read your article and just wish that the skywalk was "Advertised as floating 2,000 feet above the canyon floor". Although it is floating 2,000' above the floor, they're advertising it as being 4,000' above. Julie Cart's article includes that false statement. The only article I've seen so far that gives the correct height was one on Bloomberg's website. "Gawkers Don Booties, Fight Vertigo at Grand Canyon's Skywalk"
By Mike Di Paola on April 17. http://www.bloomberg.com/ap...
While the Skywalk is on Hualapai land, Hualapai ambitions extend beyond the reservation boundary and into Grand Canyon National Park.

The present Tribal Chair, at a public meeting held in Flagstaff Arizona this February, stated the Tribe intended to take Grand Canyon National Park to court, in order for the Tribe to expand north into land now managed by Grand Canyon National Park. Chairman Vaughn would like the Tribe to have control of the Colorado River in Grand Canyon.

The Tribes development plans at Grand Canyon West are ambitious, from a golf course and business park on the rim, to a cable car (since you mentioned the Albright-Mather discourse), and, if successful in pushing back the borders and management of Grand Canyon National Park, jet-ski and jet boat rides on the Colorado River.

We can only hope the country, while acknowledging the need for sustainable economies on our First American lands, will stand by Grand Canyon National Park and not allow our countries Parks to be physically degraded by tourism development.

On Wednesday, while at the Park headquarters, I noticed an informational handout at the information desk on the Skywalk. Yes, people are asking.
If you would like to watch a 10 minute video showing and describing an accurate description of the Skywalk experience and debunking the overhyped Press that the Grand Canyon Skywalk has gotten. Please go to this link:
http://www.grandcanyon.com/...