By Bob Galbraith
A light dusting of snow has just landed on the farthest peaks of the southwest reaches of the Grand Canyon, viewed from a clear glass, horseshoe shaped skywalk on the Hualapai Indian Reservation in northwest Arizona. Bus loads of domestic and foreign tourists, many arriving from Las Vegas over bumpy dirt roads scraped out of the desert scrub and Joshua Trees of this remote stretch of the American West.
As tourists hurry off the buses and scramble for prime snapshot locations along the rim of the canyon, most make their way along a temporary, covered boardwalk to the polished glass protrusion that provides a view to the snow covered peaks in the distance and the muddy Colorado River flowing below.
Photographers snap pictures of visitors with outstretched arms, all wearing protective slippers as to not scratch the glass. The view is stunning as the canyon and river appear in sight lines below and the white peaks above. Many meander at the top of the horseshoe for the penultimate view and feeling of being suspended in mid-air.
After taking off their protective slippers visitors walk into a large building, which is the foundation of the skywalk and what had been planned as a visitor center, restaurant, gift shop, and additional place to view one of America’s great wonders.
But unfinished rooms, bags filled with insulation lying on the concrete floor, construction equipment, exposed ducts mean the promise of a restaurant and a warm drink seem a long way off. What was once envisioned as a center for a hotel, restaurants, even a golf course, now relies solely on the glass skywalk for visitors.