Sunday, October 28, 2018

Great Grandeur of the Grand Canyon


I grew up watching Wild Western movies like Mackenna's Gold, The Good Bad and Ugly, Magnificent Seven etc.,  (and not the wild movies that you are thinking. lol 😃)


If you have watched any of those, you would agree with me that most of the filming was at the Canyons of USA.

Ever since then, my mind yearned to see the Great Grand Canyons. Fast forward few years from then, and in early this year I visited the USA on an official trip, and I used this opportunity to witness the grandeur of these mighty rocky mountains spread over hundreds of kilometres.

This is in continuation of my previous trip to Yosemite National Park (If you have not seen the Yosemite blog, you can click on this link). 

On April 2nd (2018), we drove all the way from Yosemite National Park (California) to Las Vegas (Nevada) covering a distance of almost 480 miles. The drive was extremely beautiful as we traversed through different kinds of terrain (from Snowy mountains in Yosemite to Arid desert in Las Vegas). After driving for almost 8-9 hours, we finally hit the most happening city of Las Vegas by evening. 

April 3rd, 2018

Early in the morning, we drove from Las Vegas to Grand Canyon. Well there are many places in this range and it depends on where you go. Grand canyon is spread across states and is really huge.
Since time was not on our side, we decided to visit the nearest point from LasVegas which was West rim. 

You see nothing but barren landscape throughout your drive. The only waterbody that you come across on the way is the Colorado river which forms a physical boundary between Nevada and Arizona. Once you enter Arizona, you will have to move your watch ahead by 30mins as the time zone is little ahead here.






There is a designated parking area, where you will have to park your vehicles. The Grand-Canyon management committee and the Hualapai Indian tribe operates the tour by taking you in their private buses to all the famous view points at West Rim (of-coarse you have to pay :) )

Just a short distance from the National Park, within the Hualapai Tribal Reservation, is the wild Western nature of the Grand Canyon's West Rim. Though not nearly as commercially-developed as the bustling South Rim, the West still hosts nearly a million visitors each year. Still, this area is much more peaceful and less-crowded. 

This is the land of the Hualapai Indian tribe, who are the guardians of the Grand Canyon. The name Hualapai means "People of the tall pines".

Hualapai Ranch

Ideally this is the first stop where the shuttle bus drops you. There are some ranches of the Hualapai tribe here, where you can take a horseback ride, a mechanical buffalo ride etc.,

Eagle Point

As the name says, the adjacent mountain from this viewpoint looks like an Eagle with its wing spread. This is the first viewpoint that we come across in this tour, and is a pit-stop for all photo lovers and selfie maniacs .




Skywalk

Skywalk is the most famous viewpoint of the region. Most exciting of all is the glass walkway that extends out between the canyon walls and allows guests to stare a mile through to the floor.

The Grand Canyon Skywalk is a horseshoe-shaped cantilever bridge with a glass walkway in Arizona near the Colorado River on the edge of a side canyon in the Grand Canyon West area of the main canyon.




Topographic maps show the elevation at the Skywalk's location as 4,770 ft (1,450 m) and the elevation of the Colorado River in the base of the canyon as 1,160 ft (350 m), and they show that the height of the precisely vertical drop directly under the skywalk is between 500 ft (150 m) and 800 ft (240 m)

Cameras or cellphones are not allowed while you are on the skywalk and you have to deposit it in a locker just before stepping on the glass. 




This place is not for the weak hearted, because the height induces fear in you. The adrenaline starts gushing when you look down and literally your heart will come to your mouth.

Guano Point

The last of the three viewpoints in the Grand Canyon's - West rim is the Guano point. Here you can have a  360° view of the mountains and valleys.


Colorado river

Jutting out into the Grand Canyon, Guano Point could be one of the most stunning viewpoints in the whole of the Grand Canyon. One can walk out to the tip of the point and experience a nearly 360° canyon view. 




This location at Grand Canyon West is also the home of the Hualapai Buffet (a popular package meal choice) where one can eat a sumptuous meal while sitting near the edge of the Grand Canyon. While at the point one can see a few remnants of a past age. 



In 1958 the rights to a nearby bat cave were purchased by U.S. Guano Corp. The company constructed a $3.5 million dollar tramway system to extract the expected 100,000 tons of guano (a valuable ingredient in fertilizer) from the cave below the rim. 




Unfortunately the original site survey was incorrect and the last of the mere 1,000 tons of guano was extracted by the end of 1959. Shortly after the mine petered out, a US Air Force fighter jet collided with the overhead cable system, permanently disabling it. 



The remaining towers were left intact as a monument to man's attempt to mine the canyon. As if this history was not enough to keep visitors busy, this point is also home to the Hualapai Market. This unique shopping area hosts many Hualapai artisans offering both their wares and education on their cultural significance.





One can walk till the end of the cliff at the Guano point, where you can view the magical expanse of the whole Canyon's ridges & valleys. With a bag of popcorn and some coke, you can peacefully sit on the edge of the cliff and witness the beautiful sunset where the sun sets just behind the Colorado river in the valley down below.










Tips to visitors :

1. West rim is the nearest point from Las Vegas and is almost 2.5 hours drive from there.

2. The whole land belongs to the Hualapai tribes, and the money that you pay goes to the conservation of the land.

3. You would need to pay the entry fee to visit these viewpoints

4. There are multiple tour options that include Helicopter tour, Boat tour, zip lining , Viewpoint tour etc., and each has a separate cost.

5. There are small cafes/restaurants near the Skywalk and the Guano point 

6. Generally food will be part of your entry ticket (if Skywalk is included)

7. You would have to pay extra to walk on the glass bridge. This can be either purchased as a package during the start of the tour, or buy separately near the sky walk entrance.

8. We paid almost $80 for the tour (that includes Entry to all these viewpoints + skywalk entrance + Food and transportation)




Thank You !

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