Why West is better than the national park!
Up until last year I didn’t even know that Grand Canyon West was even a thing. Even while living in Arizona all those years ago we only ever visited the Grand Canyon National Park. Low and behold, heading over to Grand Canyon West was less expensive and we had a BLAST!
Grand Canyon West is not actually a part of the Grand Canyon National Park. In fact, it is the home of the Hualapai (WALL-uh-pie) Tribal Nation. One million acres and 108 miles along the canyon and Colorado River, the Hualapai tribe welcome visitors form all over the world!
First off, the drive in to Grand Canyon West is incredible. Located right where the Mojavi Desert and the Colorado river meet, you get to drive through the largest and most dense Joshua tree forest in the world! These unique trees look like something out of a Dr. Seuss book!
Years ago, the Joshua tree was recognized by native people for its useful properties: tough leaves were worked into baskets and sandals, and flower buds and raw or roasted seeds made a healthy addition to the diet. The local Cahuilla have long referred to the tree as “hunuvat chiy’a” or “humwichawa;” both names are used by a few elders fluent in the language.https://www.nps.gov/jotr/learn/nature/jtrees.htm
what to see at Grand Canyon West
Back in 2003 the tribe built the Skywalk at Eagle Point. It’s a massive circular bridge that stretches 70 feet out over the Canyon edge. With a clear bottom you can see all the way down 4000 feet to the Canyon floor. It was amazing!!
The set up at the Skywalk is pure genius. You’re not allowed to take ANYTHING with you. Not even your cell phone. I’m guessing the main reason was to prevent people from dropping things over the side. But also, to prevent people jamming the relatively small area with posing for selfies, etc.
Instead, they have 3 cameramen stationed around the Skywalk. Each one takes a series of photos then points you to the next. It was amazing how smoothly they kept people flowing through. And they take some super fun photos!!
Guess which one was my favorite?? Ha!
Near the Skywalk building is an incredible historical ‘living museum’. They show the progression of the tribes through their shelters. Beginning with the tepee all the way through to the pueblos. Above is a sweat lodge and in the background is a Hogan.
Explore the Hualapai Tribe’s history, learn about the area from the displays inside the attraction and take the self-guided tour through the Native American Village at Eagle Point. Should you work up an appetite, American cuisine is offered in the Sky View Restaurant, featuring dramatic panoramic views of the Skywalk and Eagle Point through floor-to-ceiling windows.Grand Canyon West Website
They aren’t kidding about the view from the restaurant. This was from our lunch table!
After a nice visit at the Skywalk, you board a bus that takes you out to Guano Point. Yes… that guano. Can you spot Gavin???
Apparently I have a thing about taking far away pictures of my kid. Lol. But how cool is this shot!?!?
They call it Guano Point because the peak there is about 4000 feet above the Colorado River. Directly below, down about 3400 feet is a huge bat cave. Many many moons ago they used to lower miners all the way down to the cave so they could harvest the guano. I couldn’t help but wonder how much guano you’d have to harvest to make that operation profitable…
If you’re planning to stay a night or two (or more), I HIGHLY recommend staying at Grand Canyon West cabins. The tribe has a few dozen cabins that, I kid you not, are only 1/2 mile from the Canyon’s edge! Seriously! This was the view from our porch.
The cabins have no televisions. I mean honestly, why would you need one with that view??? Sitting on that porch with some hand work and I was in pure heaven!
But they do have full bathrooms, closets, mini fridges and wi-fi. Just in case you can’t live without some sort of life line to the ‘real world’. 😀
more to do at Grand Canyon west
Unfortunately, on this trip we only had 1 day to explore. But there are tons more things to do out at Grand Canyon West!
The cabins area has a fun ‘old west’ type town set up with games and adventure. Plus, there are loads of walking trails all over for amazing views! Be sure to pack your sunscreen, sunglasses, a hat and definitely have your camera ready!!
If you’re more of an adventurist, you can also take a helicopter tour, river rafting or even go ziplining! There really are a ton of amazing things to learn, see and experience, which is what makes Grand Canyon West a ‘must stop’ on the Arizona bucket list!
Have you been to the Grand Canyon West? Or, are you planning to go? Let me know your favorites in the comments!
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