Officials from the Hualapai Tribe gathered Tuesday for a ceremonial grand opening of a road that had been a major headache for tourists headed to the Grand Canyon Skywalk, in Mohave County, Ariz.
Crews recently paved the final 9-mile stretch of dirt and gravel road that had irritated tour operators, who complained of broken windows, flat tires, missing hubcaps and dust. Motorists now have a smooth drive to the tribe's premier tourist destination, a horseshoe-shaped glass bridge that gives visitors a view of the canyon floor 4,000 feet below.
The Hualapai Tribe had planned to have Diamond Bar Road completely paved when it opened the Grand Canyon Skywalk in 2007. But a legal challenge from a local dude rancher and a lack of funding postponed it.
The Hualapai reservation includes 108 miles of the Grand Canyon's western rim. Tourism is a key source of revenue for the tribe. The late Las Vegas businessman David Jin approached the Hualapai Tribe in 1996 with a plan to build the Skywalk and invested $30 million.
The glass bridge juts out 70 feet from the canyon walls, supported by steel beams anchored 46 feet into the rock. It can withstand winds of up to 100 mph.
Getting to the Skywalk took 2 ½ hours from Las Vegas, four hours from Flagstaff, Ariz., and five hours from Phoenix, though the newly paved road is expected to reduce driving time.
The Skywalk is 90 miles east of Grand Canyon National Park.