The bone-jarring, teeth-rattling drive over a washboard road to the Grand Canyon Skywalk just got smoother now that the final nine-mile stretch of Diamond Bar Road is paved.
The gravel road was the main obstacle for tourists arriving in comfort to the Skywalk, a glass bridge that protrudes 70 feet from the canyon walls and 4,000 feet above the canyon floor. The new paving now allows the time it takes to drive from nearby Las Vegas to Grand Canyon West to just under two and a half hours each way.
"The completion of Diamond Bar Road is very meaningful to the Hualapai Tribe and to the thousands of people who visit Grand Canyon West each year," commented Hualapai Chairwoman Sherry Counts. "Our tourists will have a smooth, scenic drive to this magnificent destination and we anticipate a considerable increase in visitors to this entire region as a result."
Paving the road cost more than US$35 million. Planning for the Diamond Bar Road paving project began more than 12 years ago and was funded by the Bureau of Indian Affairs. Fann Contracting of Prescott performed the work.
Skywalk is the cornerstone of a larger plan by the Hualapai Tribe that will include a museum, Movie Theater, gift shop and several restaurants.
The horseshoe-shaped, cantilevered glass structure was the brainchild of the late David Jinn, whose company built and operated the Skywalk. It opened in 2007, creating hundreds of jobs for the tribe and business for tour companies. Astronaut Buzz Aldrin was the first to walk on the glass bridge. It's sturdy enough to hold the weight of a dozen 747 aircraft and can withstand winds up to 100 mph. The Skywalk attracts 700,000 tourists a year to Grand Canyon West. It's the most popular tourist destination for the Hualapai tribe that occupies a million-acre reservation at the Grand Canyon's western rim.