Grand Canyon West and Skywalk with Desert Wonder Tours
Updated: Jan 18
Taking a private, small group tour with Desert Wonder Tours was a delightful way to experience the Grand Canyon West Rim and Skywalk in Arizona USA, without the large crowds. An average of over 5,000 people visit this site per day!
My tour started early at 8am with a hotel pick up. There were three people on my tour and the two hour drive to the west rim gave us plenty of time to get to know each other. Driving through the Joshua Tree forest was amazing. I couldn't get enough of looking out over the awesome Arizona landscape.
The rocky escarpments dominated the distance. The clear blue skies looked down upon this sun-dried landscape. Temperatures in summer can often reach close to 50C (120F). Visiting in the northern hemisphere winter is a good option as the snow still clings to higher peaks. This visual white sprinkling enables the reds, browns, tans and blacks of the rocks to stand out.
The road is paved all the way to the reservation of the Hualapai tribe, where the West Rim lies. My first sight of the deep canyon filled me with excitement, even though I had seen it just days before from the South Rim. Each angle and view of the canyon is unique.
Bob drove us to the visitor centre where the hop on/hop off bus picks people up, and then accompanied us all the way. The bus stops at Eagle Point and Guano Point.
Our first stop was Eagle Point. Before getting onto the glass skywalk, all possessions must be deposited into lockers. No cameras or phones are allowed on the skywalk, as, for a fee, you can have your photo taken by the professionals on site. The gift shop also sells many souvenirs, including a cute block representation of the skywalk. You now know that I didn't pay to get my photos taken on the skywalk!
The skywalk is 1219m (4,000 ft) above the canyon, extends 21m (70 ft) out past the edge, and is 3m (10 ft) wide. It is formed in a horseshoe shape, and you approach through one door, circle the walk and exit by a second door. As Bob had brought us early in the day, there was plenty of time to spend admiring the views. This is an advantage of a small group tour; we were not rushed at all and could do things at our own pace.
"The Skywalk is so strong it can hold the weight of 71 loaded 747 passenger planes stacked on top of one another"- from their official website Grand Canyon Skywalk at Grand Canyon West. Knowing the facts, it was still a bit daunting the first time I stepped onto the glass and looked way down below to the canyon floor. Yet, definitely worth it, as it gave a bird's eye view, something you cannot experience from the edges. Looking over the glass surrounds of the skywalk was incredible. Majestic and awe inspiring are words that just don't fully encompass how amazing it is to step out over this natural phenomenon.
Getting its name from the shape of the rocks that form an eagle, legend has it that many years ago people lived at the bottom of the Canyon. An eagle flew down to warn them of an oncoming flood. When the eagle flew up to the sky, it turned to stone and watched over the people below.
At the Eagle Point stop is a hike along a paved cultural path that is definitely worth doing to see life-sized examples of authentic local and tribal heritage. Traditionally built housing, sweat lodges, ovens and teepees can be admired as you contemplate a simpler but harder life for the native peoples. Plus, the background views are incredibly beautiful.
Friday, Saturday and Sundays, there is music and dancing at the Eagle Point amphitheater.
Back on the bus and it was off to Guano Point which is, in my opinion, the better view of the West Rim.
This would have to be the best view EVER when having a coffee! (I only turned around to have my picture taken, the rest of the coffee was drunk admiring the spectacular scenery).
Once again, we were not rushed and Bob waited patiently while we soaked in the whole atmosphere of the canyon, a true wonder of the world. There are no barriers here, so it is fantastic to be so close to this natural phenomenon. The different shades of colours change during the day as the sun moves across the sky and shines on the various layers and crevices. This is beautiful!
As we reluctantly departed the Canyon, it was time for lunch at the Grand Canyon Ranch, another great part of our tour. This isn't somewhere I would have known about, or even considered stopping at, if not guided to it. It enhanced the whole trip.
Lunch of homemade burgers and delicious sandwiches. We were even delightfully entertained by a singing cowboy throughout our meal. To walk off the delicious dinner we walked around part of the ranch. Accommodation and horseriding are available here for another trip when time permits. This is a rustic and quirky place to stay, with no phone or internet coverage and no televisions. Ah, what a relaxing vacation that would be, especially with those amazing Arizona views.
Dolan Springs township on the way back is home to artist Jay Tschudy to admire his fabulous sculptures. Jay's works of art are sought after worldwide, and he gets his inspiration from the surrounding mountains and the solitude he finds in the high desert terrain.
We were dropped off back at our hotel pick up point, energized by the sights, sounds, tastes and adventures of the day. It was a tour that will pleasantly remain in my memory forever.
Contact Bob at www.desertwondertours.com for more information on this and his other local Arizona tours.