Grand Canyon - West Rim
My husband and I stayed in Las Vegas a week. We wanted to go to see the Grand Canyon, but did not want to travel 300 miles to see it. The internet indicated the West rim was only 120 miles away so we decided to go there. The drive was nice, until we came to the 14+ miles of unpaved road that you have to drive to get to the west rim. This drive took the same amount of time as if we would have went to the South Rim. Unfortunately, I feel that our experience would have been much more enjoyable at the South Rim as well. When we got to the West Rim, we were advised that we had to pay $29.95 (which turned out to be $43.95) per person just to be there before we could go to see the Grand Canyon. In addition, if you wanted to go on the Skywalk, that would be an additional $29.95 (which they actually bill you for $43.95). After my husband and I discussed this, we ultimately decided to pay the first $43.95 per person just so we could take a glimpse of the amazing Grand Canyon. After all, we did travel a long way to see it. We were advised by the attendants at the ticket office that a bus would drive us down there and a bus would come to pick up people every 15 minutes so that we could leave when we wanted to. In addition, they indicated that there would be 3 viewing points that the bus would stop at and we could hop on/ hop off since the busses rotated every 15 minutes. Once we saw the Grand Canyon and had taken all the great pictures, we were ready to go to the next point. We lined up with others to wait for the next bus. THREE busses came to our point, but we were not allowed to get on any of them. The busses did not pick up anyone! We were excited to see the fourth bus and thought surely it was going to pick us up, but to our demise, we were told by an employee that the bus was for employees only and we would have to wait for the next one. We waited along with about 60 other people for an hour before we were allowed to get on a bus. When the bus went to the next stop, we were afraid to get off because we were scared we would be stranded again. Apparently others were just as apprehensive because only a few people got off the bus.
Unique Suggestions: Word of advice, DO NOT go to the West Rim. If you are set in your ways and must go to the West Rim, then take a large vehicle that can drive on the unpaved roads and also take a wad of cash because the the people running this location will suck every cent out of you.
Fun Alternatives: Go to the South Rim or North RimRelated to:
- Arts and Culture
- National/State Park
The Skywalk is the only tourist trap we encountered at the West Rim. It's located on point of interest #1, Eagle Point, and it costs 29.95 US + 7% tribal tax (price as of Nov 2009). The idea is that you'll be walking on glass on a U-shaped structure hanging down on the Grand Canyon. Not only does this have to be paid in addition to the national park fees, but you're not allowed to bring any personal items with you, like you camera or your cell phone because of weight issues with the structure itself (and I'm all for safety first!).
They do have a camera that takes pictures every 5 minutes (my estimation) and if you want one of them then you have to pay extra for them.
You can read about the Skywalk here.
Unique Suggestions: I can't think of any way to make the tourist trap bearable...except that the Hualapai tribe get the tax for the preservation of their lands...
Fun Alternatives: Take your own pictures from the many viewpoints located next to it and with your own camera but be careful because there are no handrails at the edge of the cliffs.
Grand Canyon West Skywalk
I was there June 2008 and it was horrible! Don't go!! Our visit could have been a scene from a Chevy Chase Vacation movie. We rented an SUV and left Las Vegas at 9:30 AM. We drove to Hoover Dam and did the $11 power plant tour, which we enjoyed. We then drove to the Grand Canyon West Skywalk. Please note that we did not linger at either location and did not get back to our hotel until 7:30 PM. Highway 93 south provided pretty scenery of the mountains, but it was a desolate highway. No gas stations. No restaurants. No restrooms. About 30 miles before you reach Kingman, AZ we turned left onto a two lane road. There we saw ramshackle mobile homes with littered yards and run down vehicles. Still no place to stop that looked like it would pass inspection by the Board of Health. We traveled on this highway for about 25 miles and then turned right. A sign noted that were were "only 21 miles" from the Grand Canyon. We then drove 14 miles on a rough, hilly, curvy, narrow dirt road. The speed limit ranged from 10 to 25 mph. We were behind two cars. The dirt that their cars kicked up caused such poor visibility that we occasionally had to slow down even more so that we could see the road! Finally, after 14 miles, the road was paved for the remaining 7 miles to the Grand Canyon. We saw the first glimpse of the Grand Canyon when we arrived at the Hualapai Indian tourist attraction. We were charged $20 to drive further and park in a gravel parking lot. We were then directed to the gift shop where we were charged $30 per person to take the tour and an additional $30 per person to walk on the SkyWalk. The store was out of bottled water, but they did have pricey bottles of flavored water available. We were then directed to wait for a tour bus to take us to the skywalk. 3 empty buses passed us before one finally stopped to pick us up. The temperature was 105 degrees. We then rode a short while to the skywalk. The pictures that I saw on the internet prior to taking this trip were an artist’s rendition. The actual site was not impressive at all. The few buildings that are there were partially completed and very low budget. The skywalk did not extend out over the canyon nearly as far as the pictures would indicate and the view of the canyon was not expansive. We were not allowed to take a camera onto the skywalk, but the Hualapai indians offered to take our picture sitting on the skywalk for $27 per picture. We walked on the skywalk for less than 10 minutes. Please don't think that it took us 10 minutes to get from one end to the other. We retraced our steps several times. For those who chose not to go on the skywalk, their view of the canyon was limited. Ropes were placed about 8 feet from the canyon's edge for safety. This prevented a decent view down into the canyon. We then went to a little trailor and bought the only food item that they offered which was a fry bread covered with refried beans, ground meat, lettuce and cheese. It tasted pretty good, but unfortunately they only had one left, so we had to share it. A very small "amphitheater" was at this site. 3 Indians were on the stage performing. No one sat to listen to them. After a few minutes the performers stopped "singing" and turned on a recording of their "music". After we ate we saw a tour bus dropping off another group so we headed to the pick up site along with about 20 other tourists. The empty tour bus did not stop to pick us up so we waited about 15 - 20 minutes for another bus to come along. Please remember that it was 105 degrees. No shade. The Hualapai did not landscape the area, so we looked at the weeds while standing in the sun waiting for the bus to come. The bus then took us to another look out point. My family was so fed up by then that we didn't even get off of the bus. We all wanted to get the heck out of there and try to avoid getting behind a bunch of cars on that dirt road. I noticed that the Hualapai's didn't have ropes along the canyon edge at this site. Nor did they have anything else to prevent someone from toppling over the edge of the canyon. The view was prettier at this location, at least from what I saw of it from the tour bus! My husband occasionally was able to drive 35 mph on the dirt road in his haste to get back to Las Vegas. The dirt road was the only access into the site unless you can afford a plane or helicopter ride. The Hualapai were in the process of expanding the landing strip so that larger planes could land. The tour bus driver said that the dirt road was scheduled to be paved by October, but joked that she didn't know which year. No one on the tour bus laughed! We spent about $300 for our family of four to go to this hellish place. We did not leave with a favorable impression of the Hualapai Indians.
Unique Suggestions: Fill up the gas tank before leaving. Everyone should use the restroom before heading out. Bring bottled water and a snack.
Fun Alternatives: Go to a different scenic spot to view the Grand Canyon.Related to:
- Family Travel
- Road Trip
Grand Canyon Skywalk Rip Off
One of the Grand Canyon's newest tourist attraction is the $40 million skywalk that features a glass floor that extends past the canyon ledge and supposedly it's over 4000 ft over the canyon floor. First of all, it's not directly over the canyon floor so all that hype about how far the canyon floor is is technically incorrect. Secondly, the pictures exaggerate how far the ledge juts out.
But those are just the small things. One of the main sticking points that makes this a tourist trap is the price of everything. Its $25 per person. I guess that sounds okay, it's new afterall. But wait, you need to take a short coach ride up there which costs $29.95. Even before you get on that coach ride, you are charged $20 for parking on a dirt lot. So that basically makes it about $80 per person. If that's not enough to make you turn around and go to the south rim then how about this... NO CAMERAS ALLOWED on the ledge. That's right, you are treated to an amazing view of one of the earth's greatest natural wonders, and you are standing on a glass floor so it seems you are floating supposedly over 4000 ft from the canyon floor... and you can't document it for yourself. You could always shell out another $20 for an employee to take your pic. And it's probably the excuses about the no cameras allowed that make people even more upset. Apparently on opening day, three people dropped their cameras "scratching" some of the surface. Right. So now to prevent this you can't bring a camera... or even a purse or bag. Apologists have claimed that it would be disrespectful for tourists to photograph on sacred land. But if that's the case, then why does the tribe have a photographer out there overcharging you on a crappy pic? They also make you were coverings over your shoes. Well, at least you've got the view, so you go and look for a secure locker to lock your valuables in... I'm sure you've guessed it, no lockers! Just a guy who you give your valuables, and you get a ticket. Nice. Naturally the tribe makes no mention of this on their site. I would imagine that a good number of potential customers wouldn't even consider coming here with those rules. Better to get those naive tourists out here where they won't have any choice because they've already committed to going. Now who's being disrespectful.
There are other tourist traps included such as a faux Western town and a faux Indian village and all the typical tourist trappings. There's also a buffet included... if you're patient enough to wait for an hour or more in line, you are treated to substandard food.
The land that the skywalk is located on is owned by the Hualapai tribe. It's obvious to see that they are less organized than the National Park Service. From buying tickets, to getting all the information, all the way to getting on the actual ledge... very frustrating.
ps: I'm not attacking the tribe, just the way they run this thing. Their website is very misleading and lacks a lot of information that would make people second guess. I'm writing this so that the people that do some research realize what they're getting into.
Fun Alternatives: Go to areas of the Grand Canyon that are controlled by the National Park service who actually have the interests of the Canyon in mind. They would not allow anything like this to be built on their land. They try and keep things as natural as possible. Unlike the tribe which is out to make money and so pretty soon, the whole area will be developed with Imax theaters, themed restaurants, the whole nine yards, something akin to the city on the Canadian side near Niagara falls.Related to:
- Family Travel
The Indian Dope Trick
You probably won't really mind falling into this particular tourist trap. It's worth it just to get a picture of this guy who plies his trade on the Hulapai Indian Reservation at the West Rim. After carefully positioning a collecting tin in front of you he leaps out into the canyon onto a one metre square rock formation and poses for photos. Wonder if he's insured.Related to:
- National/State Park
This is a picture of Mooney...
This is a picture of Mooney Falls. It's not a tourist trap in the traditional sense but tourist can get trapped behind the falls due to the strong currents of water. So if you're not a strong swimmer, be careful if you want to try going behind the falls.
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