Photo in the News: Grand Canyon Glass Bridge Rolled Out

Picture of Grand Canyon glass bridge (Skywalk)
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March 8, 2007—Don Havatone (top), of the Hualapai tribe, watches the rollout of the Skywalk on the Hualapai Indian Reservation at Grand Canyon West, Arizona, on March 7. When it opens later this month—with a $25 admission fee—the U-shaped glass walkway should look somewhat closer to the concept illustration (bottom).

Extending 70 feet (21 meters) from the canyon wall, the 30-million-dollar Skywalk will put a few scant inches of glass between visitors and a 4,000-foot (1,220-meter) plunge to the Colorado River.

As it was inched out by an industrial-strength pulley system yesterday, the glass bridge was balanced by half-million-pound (227,000-kilogram) steel weights on its back end. Once in place, the Skywalk was welded to four-story steel poles inserted into the canyon wall.

Prone to erosion, the porous limestone cliff is the wild card that could determine how long the walkway holds, one of the project's architects told National Geographic News in December. (See "Grand Canyon's Glass Walkway to Open Next March" [December 15, 2006].)

Hualapai elder Delores Honta, 70, gave the bridge "15 or 20 years," and sees it as something of a desecration. "It's very sacred ground to us," she said.

But, said tribe member Robert Bravo, also speaking in December, "This is what's going to feed our tribe."

—Ted Chamberlain

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