Road to Skywalk not paved?
Have you heard that the road to Grand Canyon West where the Skywalk is located is not paved? People chatting with me frequently have been told that the road is to be avoided because of the damage to cars. I happily respond that the road is completely paved! But it hasn’t always been that way.
The bumpy road had been a source of complaints and difficulties for many years – since before the Skywalk opened in March 2007. Tour operators had complained of broken windows, flat tires, missing hubcaps and dust. Car rental companies didn’t want you to take their cars on that route!
Websites with Grand Canyon West information warned drivers of the dangers of driving the “unpaved section” of the road for several years. Since most of those websites haven’t been updated, the story is still being circulated. But now, with the completion of the last nine miles, the road to the Skywalk is fully paved.
The road was the biggest drawback in reaching the Skywalk. Paving of the final stretch cost more than $30 million. The tribe had hoped to have it done when it opened the Skywalk in 2007, but a legal challenge from a local dude rancher and a lack of funding caused postponement. The tribe paid the rancher, Nigel Turner, $750,000 to settle a lawsuit over the paving project, and saved up federal funds for 10 years.
Once the paving of the final section began, Turner reopened his case, saying an easement he granted to the federal government to allow public access on his property off Diamond Bar Road had expired, amenities agreed upon in the settlement weren’t being carried out and construction was harming his guests.
He put up a roadblock and began charging tourists a fee to cross his land which enraged the tribe. The Hualapai responded by shuttling in tourists and asking the U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs to approve a temporary road that would bypass Turner’s property.
Turner eventually reached an agreement with the federal government over the road and the final paving was completed in August 2014.
Tribal Point of View
Sherry J. Counts, Hualapai Tribe chairwoman, was very excited about finally getting the paving project finished. In a column published in the Daily Miner in Kingman, Sherry tells of her own history as well as of Grand Canyon West. She thanks the people of Mohave County for their support.
At the ribbon cutting celebration for the completed road, Tribal, state and federal officials all noted the obvious benefit of the paving: The trip for the thousands of visitors every year to Grand Canyon West would be smoother and faster. Hualapai Tribal member Rory Majenty, who emceed the road celebration, pointed out another benefit for tribal members, “We probably won’t have to buy a new truck every few years like we used to have to do because of the rough road!”
The paving of Diamond Bar Road had been a dream of the tribe for many years. As the Tribe began to develop Grand Canyon West into an alternate tourist destination, they realized that the many visitors would want a more comfortable ride to the destination.
The Hualapai depend on tourism, ranching, and arts/crafts to fund their economy. The proximity of Grand Canyon West is a compelling reason for folks staying in Las Vegas to visit the Grand Canyon at the West Rim. Some 700,000 people visit Grand Canyon West (outside the boundaries of Grand Canyon National Park) each year.
Paving is Complete
The paving of the road to Grand Canyon West is complete so if anyone tells you not to drive there because of the rough road, tell them it just isn’t true any more! Be sure to schedule a visit to the Skywalk, either by tour from Las Vegas or by car.