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An artist's illustration of the skywalk.
(Photo: Courtesy Grand Canyon West)

Grand Canyon Skywalk
By Gail Hennessey

Friday, November 4—Here's another reason to visit the Grand Canyon: This spring, you can walk across a glass-bottomed bridge and stare straight down to the Colorado River, 4,000 feet below.

"It's an engineering marvel," Irene Dudley, a spokeswoman for the company building the bridge, told Scholastic News Online.

The horseshoe-shaped skywalk will extend about 75 feet over the canyon. It's made mostly of Plexiglas, but it won't break. "It's being built to withstand an earthquake and about 100-mile-per-hour winds," said Dudley. It will also be supported by a million pounds of steel—enough to hold 72 loaded airplanes.

Dudley predicts that the transparent walkway will attract two kinds of tourists: "Those who walk the skywalk, and those who come to watch those who do."

Home for the Hualapai

The skywalk will be operated by the Hualapai Tribe. The Hualapai (pronounced "WAL-uh-pie" and meaning "people of the tall pine") now number about 2,000, and have lived in the Grand Canyon for hundreds of years. Near the bridge, they are building an "Indian village" of traditional Native American homes and a theater for performing Native American dances.

The Hualapai are also constructing an Old West-themed village, a campground, and even an extension to a local airport. Tribal spokespeople say that they hope to earn money from the tourist attractions while maintaining their way of life.

"This was very sensitive," said developer Sheri Yellowhawk. "We had to go through the tribal council and receive the blessings of the elders."

The Grand Canyon already lures more than 5 million tourists every year to its stupendously beautiful views and mind-boggling history. Parts of the canyon are over 2 billion years old. Each layer of rock contains colorful clues to what Earth was like at the time when the rock formed.


Lost in the Grand Canyon
Visit this site from PBS to learn more about the Grand Canyon.

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