A New View
Grand Canyon Skywalk set to open
|Visitors walk on the Skywalk during the opening ceremony at the Grand Canyon on the Hualapai Indian Reservation. (Photo: Ross D. Franklin/AP Images)|
March 22, 2007
Millions of visitors travel to Arizona each year to visit the Grand Canyon. This year, visitors will have an opportunity to see the massive valley from a whole new perspective—by standing on a deck that reaches past the canyon's edge.
The new attraction is called the Skywalk. This glass-bottom observation deck extends 70 feet over the edge of the canyon and is 65 feet wide. The deck appears to be suspended in the air because it has no visible supports.
Visitors will be able to see 4,000 feet down to the canyon floor. That's more than twice as high as the Empire State Building in New York City!
The Skywalk can withstand winds up to 100 mph. It also has shock absorbers, so it doesn't wobble when people walk on it. The deck can hold the weight of a few hundred people.
The Skywalk was built in Grand Canyon West, which is part of the Hualapai (pronounced WALL-uh-pie) Reservation. Hualapai Indians allowed a Las Vegas contractor to build the $30 million structure, in the hopes that it would bring more tourists to their part of the canyon.
An opening ceremony for the observation deck was held on Tuesday. Apollo 11 astronaut Buzz Aldrin—one of the first two astronauts to walk on the Moon—attended the event. Aldrin was joined by former Astronaut John Herrington, a registered Chickasaw Indian, and Hualapai council chairman Charlie Vaughn.
|(Photo: Ross D. Franklin/AP Images)|
The Skywalk will be open to the public on March 28. Visitors will have to pay $25 per person, plus additional fees for access to the park.
A Cause for Concern
Some Hualapai are upset about the new attraction. They argue that it will disturb sacred, or holy, burial sites that are nearby.
Tribal leaders, though, hope the new tourist attraction will do more good than harm. They hope the money they earn from the Skywalk will help the Hualapai's struggling economy.
"When we have so much poverty and so much unemployment, we have to do something," said Sheri Yellowhawk, chief executive of the tribal-owned company in charge of the project.
Some environmentalists are also upset because they think that the tourist attractions will take away from the canyon's natural beauty.
Still, many in the Hualapai tribe believe this new attraction may create a better future for their children.
Critical Thinking Question
Read today's news story, and then answer the following question.
Tiffany Chaparro is a contributing writer for Scholastic News Online.