Kevin J. Anderson has more than 140 published books, 56 of which have been national or international bestsellers. He has written numerous novels in the Star Wars, X-Files, and Dune universes, as well as steampunk fantasy novels Clockwork Angels and Clockwork Lives, written with legendary rock drummer Neil Peart, based on the concept album by the band Rush. His original works include the Saga of Seven Suns series, the Terra Incognita fantasy trilogy, the Saga of Shadows trilogy, and his humorous horror series featuring Dan Shamble, Zombie PI. He has edited numerous anthologies, written comics and games, and penned the lyrics to two rock CDs. Anderson and his wife Rebecca Moesta are the publishers of WordFire Press.
i write. i make up stuff. i adventure hard, so you don’t have to.
My parents live in Kingman, AZ, and when Rebecca and I visit, we fly into Las Vegas, rent a car, and make the 2-hr drive to Kingman. Along the way, near the town of Dolan Springs, is a big billboard to “Exit Here for the Grand Canyon Skywalk”—a breathtaking glass-bottomed walkway that extends out over the canyon, so you can look down between your feet 4000 ft to the bottom of the canyon. We’d heard about it before, and always wanted to do it (no, we’re not afraid of heights), but it’s a hefty trip out of the way (56 miles off the highway) and we knew there was a fairly high admission fee, and we had never planned for it before.
But this year, because of crash book deadlines for both of us, we didn’t do very much for our 26th wedding anniversary in September, so we decided we would go out and see the Skywalk as part of our anniversary celebration. It was spectacular, and we enjoyed the experience, but it was ridiculously expensive. I did my research ahead of time, and even called to verify the costs, so *we* weren’t surprised, but a lot of other people were clearly shocked. Here’s a full report, so you can make up your own mind.
We turned off the highway at Dolan Springs and headed off for the hour drive off into the middle of nowhere, isolated desert mountains and some tremendous scenery, including a sweeping Joshua Tree forest. A beautiful drive on a good road all the way out to where we entered the Hualupai Reservation and “Grand Canyon West” where the Skywalk is located.
Arriving at the entrance, we saw the fringe of the canyon, numerous helicopters swooping around (for the helicopter rides, offered to tourists). After parking, we immediately heard the loud sucking sound of money being whisked out of our wallets. The entry building and visitor center is, of course, a gigantic gift shop which also sold snacks and water (since you are not allowed to bring your own food or water!) We paid the entrance fee of $49.92 per person … and that’s exactly what it is, an ENTRANCE fee. It lets you go to the other side of the gift shop and allows you to get on a shuttle bus that takes you to three viewpoints. If you actually want to go out ON the Skywalk (i.e., the reason anybody goes out there in the first place) you have to pay an *additional* charge of $21.62 per person.
We got on the shuttle bus, which took us to the first stop, a cheesy Old West town reconstruction that held little of interest. The second shuttle stop was the Skybridge. The canyon here is truly gorgeous; not as spectacular as Grand Canyon National Park, but still breathtaking. (I’ve hiked to the bottom of the Grand Canyon and back twice.) We took a lot of pictures.
The Skybridge itself is in a separate building, and looks amazing from the side. The walkway extends right out over the sheer drop-off. We couldn’t wait to get out there.
We entered the building (another gift shop, of course), ready to go through out onto the Skywalk. Nothing to worry about: the website says “Have no fear; the Skywalk is strong enough to bear the weight of seventy 747 passenger jets.” Even though the bridge is so strong, however, you are not allowed to bring your cameras out there “to protect from dropping any items into the canyon or onto the glass”. Fortunately, they have their OWN photographers who will take your picture on the bridge for $40 (tips expected).
So, I won’t be posting any pics of us on the bridge.
It was quite amazing however. Great view along the canyon, wonderful scenery, and very cool to stand on the glass and look down into open space between your feet. Kind of a bucket-list experience. We spent about fifteen minutes just admiring the view.
Then we got on the shuttle and rode to the third viewpoint, Guano Point, a really awesome view, the site of a former industrial operation, now in ruins, of excavating a real bat cave filled with guano (bat poop), which is very valuable as a chemical substance. Here we took a short hike out to some other viewpoints, more of the canyon, rock formations, the ruins of the tram to the bat cave, even glimpses of Lake Mead.
We stayed about two hours and saw all we wanted to see. There were, of course, additional helicopter or airplane rides ($107.42-$262.67 per person) or private tours (of the same places we saw on the shuttle bus) or the opportunity to get our photos taken with real Hualapai members, or to buy Native American crafts. There was even a “Guano Cafe” at Guano Point, but knowing what guano IS, we weren’t sure we could trust the food they prepared there. We returned to our car and drove the hour back through the desert to the highway and continued on our way to Kingman to visit my parents.
Overall, Rebecca and I did have a great experience and saw wonderful scenery. We came prepared for how much it would cost, but even so the Skywalk experience is grossly and deceptively overpriced, with many other tourists–after making the 2-hour roundtrip out there–shocked to discover that the entry fee does not include access to the main attraction. We’re glad we did it, but we won’t be doing it again.
Note, this is NOT inside Grand Canyon National Park—the cost of an *annual* National Parks pass, which allows you into ALL of the Grand Canyon National Park and ALL other national parks in the U.S. costs what we paid just to get onto the Skywalk. All in all, you would have a much more satisfying experience at Grand Canyon National Park.