September is one of our favorite months to take a road trip. After touring Saguaro National Park in Tucson and playing golf in Scottsdale, Arizona, we headed to the Grand Canyon. Having visited the south rim several times, we chose a different destination this time—Grand CanyonWest. Of course, the big draw there was the see-through glass-bottomed Skywalk that extends out over the deep canyon.
Since the Skywalk is located on the Hualapai NationIndian Reservation, and there really are no large towns nearby, we chose to stay at Grand Canyon Western Ranch, only about 16 miles away, the night before our excursion.
Our drive from Scottsdale was very pleasant as we passed through the Sonoran Desert with scrub brush and the beginnings of hills, canyons, and valleys. We stopped along the way at Grapevine Mesa National Landmark and Joshua Tree Forest and took photos of mountains and a beautiful bluff before arriving at the Ranch.
The remotely located Ranch provided a simple cabin that overlooked the imposing bluff we had photographed earlier. A late afternoon walk, cowboy dinner, and singing around a campfire provided a somewhat “authentic” look at life in the desert.
The next morning we arrived early at the Skywalk, parked, and rode the shuttle to visitor areas. The first stop for the shuttle was at Hualapai Ranch, and old-time Western town with horse riding, zipline, gift shop and restaurant. We skipped this in order to get to the Skywalk before crowds came.
We walked back and forth over the semi-circle taking in the marvelous views. I longed to have a camera, but visitors are not allowed to take anything onto the Skywalk. So we engaged the professional photographer to record this incredible experience. Looking down into the canyon provides a different perspective that we found insightful, although it might not be enjoyable for anyone afraid of heights.
Also at this site is a natural photo-worthy formation resembling an eagle with spread wings that has been named Eagle Point. About noon we took the shuttle to Guano Point and hiked to the spot where a cave with bats was found years ago. A cable car was constructed to transport bat guano, which was used for fertilizer. After an Air Force jet damaged the cable car, it was never repaired.
We spent almost two hours walking along the canyon rim, soaking in excellent views of cliffs and river below. Rock formations in the area were simply made for climbing, so I scrambled to the top of one large formation while trying to follow an elusive trail. After descending at the other end, it took awhile to meet up with Larry again. He had been recording this geological history of the Earth as revealed in the rocks and cliffs with his camera.
While the Skywalk is worth doing because of its uniqueness, overall the Grand Canyon never ceases to amaze. It’s one of our favorite places because of the variety of scenery, changing colors throughout the day, the immensity of the canyon, and remembrances of our raft trip on the Colorado River below.
Photos by Larry and Beverly Burmeier