May 16, 2008

Grand Canyon Skywalk = Tourist Trap

While I was out in Vegas just over a week ago, Randy and I decided on a trip to see the Grand Canyon. So we drove over Hoover Dam and prepared for a long drive...the signs were saying it was over 200 miles to the Canyon, though on the map we could see a few Indian reservations that went to the southern edge.

Then we saw signs for the Skywalk on the Hualapai Reservation. Why not?

We drove across miles of desert, through two small towns and an extensive Joshua Tree forest (which, for some reason, reminded me of the Pine Barrens, minus all the undergrowth). Then we left the paved road for 20 miles of dirt road.

At this turn-off we saw what should have been our first warning of things to come, a sign for the Skywalk that actually included some price information: $20 parking and additional fees

We finally arrived on the reservation. The parking area looked like a tractor-trailer parking area, it was huged. Unfortunately, it was also completely fenced in, though the rim of the canyon could clearly be seen about 1/4 - 1/2 mile away. We were so close that we could see the tops of the cliffs on the other side. But there seemed to be no access for foot traffic.

We were directed into the Tourism Center, were we learned part of the bitter truth. We'd already paid $20 just to park the car. To take the bus ride to the Skywalk was $39. It was another $39 to go out onto the Skywalk personal cameras allowed.

The camera thing immediately made me irritated. I can understand an art museum not allowing flash photography, that's one thing. But to not allow cameras to an outdoor or nature area is just a money has nothing to do with preserving the sacred ground of the Hualapai, for they will take photos of you (for a price, of course).

So we figured it was about $100 to see the Grand Canyon: $20 to park, $40 for the bus ride, then $40 for the Skywalk. We figured that, being the cruel Indians these seem to be, you probably can't see the Canyon from the Skywalk bus stop just as you can't see it from the car parking area.

Screw it, we left.

On the long-ass drive out, several other things dawned on us. There'd been mention of lockers to store your camera while out on the Skywalk, so how much wampum for a locker? Then there was the map inside the Tourism Center, which showed three parking areas, though we only found pricing information for the Skywalk parking area. Were there additional charges to get off the bus at these areas? Probably. Then we surmised that the Skywalk probably doesn't have the best view of the Canyon, it's probably from Guano Point (which is what one of the other areas was actually named) or the other bus stop.

Lesson learned. If you travel across the continent and decide to see the Grand Canyon, then by all means, drive the extra hours to the U.S. National Park. Do not try to see it from the "Wanna-pay", or any other Indian reservation. We got ripped off and only paid $20 to park...I can only imagine that getting hit for money every step of the way must feel like financial rape.


Anonymous Allison said...

I just wanted to let you know that you got it a little bit wrong. The cameras are allowed in the natural areas, it is on teh actual glass that they are not.Personal items are stored i lockers (free) so that the items don't fall on the glass or in the canyon. the "Bus" ride is $29.95 and includes Native AMerican DAncers, a walking tour if an Indian village, cowboy shows and more, it is not just a bus ride. The "Cruel Indians" have opened up their sacred land for everyone to enjoy but it takes water, generator and man to make it avaailable, This is not a government subsidised place, it is all paid for by the people. Too bad you went all the way there and didn't see that.

10:01 AM  
Blogger Rothar said...

You're right, no cameras on the Skywalk itself...I didn't exactly spell that out in my rant.

Absolutely no mention was made of dancers, a village or cowboy action. We were simply told it was a bus ride that was "less than 5 minutes long". So if the bus ride is less than 5 minutes, and I can clearly see the Skywalk building from the parking area, why no walking access? And $30 for a bus ride of "less than 5 minutes" - anyone from inner city Philly would laugh at the thought!

11:36 PM  
Blogger Jenn said...

The package FORCES you to pay for stuff that you don't want to see.

Word to the wise, investigate and find out what ALL the hidden fees are before you head out there.

Apparently there's been a lot of negative vibe on this bit of tourista ville. Apparently once you get on the walk, you can't see straight down to the bottom, a cliff juts out blocking a view.

caveat emptor

9:56 AM  

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