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The Great Grand Canyon: My West Rim Experience

Updated: Sep 15, 2022

While in Las Vegas, I wanted to go somewhere tucked away from the crowds of Vegas’ gamblers, bachelor(ette) parties, newlyweds, and everything Vegas. Two hours away, I found exactly what I was looking for.

There is nothing quite magical like watching the sun rise above the morning clouds from a high rise building in the middle of a world-famous town -or so I thought. The striking orange rim of the sun slowly but fiercely makes its way over the Vegas morning clouds, extending a cheerful invitation to folks who’d be willing make the day count.

My phone rings. I slowly move my gaze away from the blue gentleness of the sun, grab my phone and rush out the door to meet my driver (read husband). He hands me my coffee and we begin our journey - off the beaten track to explore one of the seven natural wonders of the world.

We head eastbound towards the Arizona/Nevada border. With the sun fully risen, the boundless sky is as clear and as blue as it can be, leading the way to a desert road that seemed to go on and on and on.

Every so often, a desolate village appears like a shadow at dusk. At one village, an old man smokes a cigar on a bench under a tree. At another town, a cow grazes on dry grass by the roadside. We arrive at Searchlight town. Young people walk in and out of a casino, Terribles Casino, while a young woman and child enter Terrible’s McDonalds. We get gas at Terribble’s Gas station and a quick snack at Terrible’s Roadhouse. But why is everything terrible around this place? We had no one to explain, and so we drive one.

From the highway, the serrated mountains loom in the distance. We drive towards the unending dark-brown mountains that seem to brood over the desert land; it seems like they are touching the heavens, drenched in brilliant colors on the horizon. The ones with high and steep ranges stick up like a row of thorns. The rustic scene is spirit renewing as the dewy mountain scent wash over us.

Welcome To the Incredible Grand Canyon

We arrive at the Grand Canyon four hours later. Unbeknown to us we had taken the long route through the countryside. A trip that was supposed to be two and a half hours had taken twice the time.

However, it was totally worth it. The unending stretch of mountains and small towns that appeared from time to time and wild vegetation was worth the drive.

Soon we arrive at the state park entry point in Nevada where we park our car and get the tickets to the Skywalk. After 15 minutes a bus arrives and together with other passengers, we board it to the million-dollar viewpoint.

The Eagle Point

Set on an altitude of 5000 and 9000 feet above the sea level, the steep mountainside alternating between natural rocks and brown earth is a sight to behold. It is located in Northwest Arizona on the Colorado with length of 277 miles and 18 miles in width. I have been to many places before that blew my mind, but nothing compares to the experience at the canyon. Horizontal lines run across the mountain side like a hand painted piece of art. From a distance we see Colorado River slowly but steadily cutting its way through the bed of the canyon.

“Lord, I have seen it all.” I keep thinking.

My husband who doesn’t like heights runs away from the edge of the canyon and sits on benches set aside for relaxing or scared people like him.

“I’m nervous. You can go right up to the edge. There is no fencing. No nothing!”

Finally, he gathers courage to get closer to the ridge.

The air is filled with sighs of amazement from the curious onlookers. Traversing into the smaller canyons requires walking through rocky and dusty paths. There is a sentimental aspect of looking out to the unending canyon; beyond what the eyes can see.

The landscape is sparsely forested with Joshua Trees, a symbol of gradual growth. The trees appear to be raising their hands up in prayer. However, on the way to Grand Canyon, the landscape is highly populated with the spiky trees that give a surreal feeling to the desert floor. During our trip in April, tiny wildflowers, Coyote willow, and arrow weed sprouted among the brown dusty rock fields.

There is more to Grand Canyon than the spectacular views. Deep in the parched landscape are the Hualapai people. Hualapai means People of the Trail. It is believed that the Hualapai people were created from the reeds, sediments, and clay of the Colorado River at the Scared Mountain of creation, Wika Hme. The people, who have a deep spiritual connection to the land thrive from resources that the land provides, and knowledge passed down to them from generations before.

The Skywalk

The Skywalk provides a grand view of this world heritage site. It is a horseshoe-shaped steel platform with a glass walkway situated at the Eagle Point in Arizona in the west area on the canyon. The clearance below the platform is 4,757 feet above the floor of the Colorado River. The Grand Canyon Skywalk is not a cup of tea for people with a fear of heights.

The glass skywalk allows you to see deep into the heart of the canyon. The steep drop is a thrilling way to experience the canyon. This is not for the fainthearted because it gives you the illusion of standing on a fragile platform. While phones are not allowed into the skywalk, native Hualapai photographers will gladly take your pictures which you can get as print or online.

The Guano Point

After the skywalk, the tour bus takes us to the Guano Point, a rocky pyramid point which offers a 360-degree view of the canyon and Colorado River. From the Guano point we see remnants of a tram built in 1958 to reach a mine used to mine a component of fertilizer. While in operation the tram stretched 8,800 feet across to the canyon to a guano mine constructed by the U.S Corp. The mining site was permanently closed after the U.S Airforce jet fighter collided with a cable leaving the $3.5 million tramway as a remembrance monument for the mine.

To our excitement, we find a Hualapai market with ethnic jewelry and crafts. We buy a necklace as we wait for our bus to take us back where we began.

A Taste of Visual Bliss

For any adventurer, the West Rim is as perfect as the more popular South Rim. It is closer to Las Vegas than the South. You can explore all the attractions in one day and have enough time to get back to Sin City for your evening plans.

Photos of Grand Canyon, West Rim

I hope these photos will inspire you to head out to this breathtaking vista in Arizona:

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