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Many visitors wishing to view and tour the Grand Canyon are confused by information about an attraction called Grand Canyon West, sometimes referred to as the West Rim*. While geologically and geographically, it is the far Western Rim of the Grand Canyon, it is not in Grand Canyon National Park (GNCP). The length of the Grand Canyon is 277 miles and this viewpoint is at approximately mile 260. More appropriately it would be better to refer to it as the far Western Grand Canyon.
The Grand Canyon ends abruptly at Grand Wash Cliffs, just before Pearce Ferry. The "Grand Canyon West" overlook is 17 miles upstream from there, located on Hualapai Tribal Indian Land..
East of Lake Mead near Las Vegas, on the southern side of the Grand Canyon of the Colorado River is the Hualapai Nation Reservation. Their private enterprise is called Grand Canyon West. Grand Canyon West's Eagle Point is where the Skywalk is located. The Skywalk has been completed and rolled out over the side canyon. It opened March 28, 2007, and since then has been experienced by more than 1 million travelers.
The Skywalk is not 4000' above the Colorado River as has been advertised. It is at an elevation of about 4700', about 3500' higher than the elevation of the river in the same general area, but is on a side canyon, not above the canyon bottom. It is not a "sheer drop" of 4000' as stated in many articles about the Skywalk, including a Nation Geographic documentary about building the Skywalk. The drop below the Skywalk ranges from 450-800' according to many sources. Also, many of the facilities depicted as being associated with the Grand Canyon Skywalk in artists' renderings have yet to be built.
From a public video (no longer available) by tour company GrandCanyon.com, "If you're expecting those vast expansive views (ed: which you have seen of GCNP), you won't find them at Grand Canyon West."
Grand Canyon West is about 3 hours driving time southeast from Las Vegas, 6 hours northwest from Phoenix and 5 hours from GCNP South Rim. In comparison, GCNP South Rim is about 5 hours from Las Vegas and 4 hours from Phoenix. The primary access road into the Grand Canyon West complex is unpaved for about 15 miles, rough and very bumpy. Only properly equipped vehicles with sufficient ground clearance should be driven down this road. It is recommended not to take rental cars all the way to GCW as most rental car companies prohibit taking their vehicles on unpaved roads. For those who would prefer not to drive this section of the road, a park-and-ride shuttle service is offered from "The Place," a small general store located 1 mile past the turn-off to Grand Canyon West. Paving of the unpaved section of the road to Grand Canyon West was scheduled to begin in 2008 but was never completed; completion of a bypass road over the Hoover Dam in late 2010 will also lessen the driving time required from Las Vegas. There are also many tours by air, helicopter and coach/bus from Las Vegas, and some by air from Phoenix, to GCW.
Admission to the Skywalk has been publicized as being $25/person in many media reports; in reality, minimum price of admission to experience the Skywalk is approximately $80/person plus taxes, which includes tribal park entrance fee, and rim-top narrated transfers. Many tours from Las Vegas will bundle the Park entrance fee into the price, leaving Skywalk admission optional (i.e. "additional"). Cameras, cell phones and other personal belongings must be surrendered before entry onto the Skywalk, as dropping them may chip or scratch the Bridge's glass panels. Lockers are offered to store these items for $1.00. Digital souvenir photos are also offered for purchase for $25 each (visitors have reported in TA that these are merely instant camera photos), or buy 2 get 1 free.* Grand Canyon West is often incorrectly called the "West Rim". The actual West Rim within the GCNP is a 7 mile section of Grand Canyon National Park (GCNP) located on the South Rim between the Grand Canyon Village's Historic District, and Hermit's Rest (the westernmost viewpoint at GCNP South Rim). The West Rim, that is located within the Park is also called the West Rim Drive and/or Hermit Road .