Determined to get to the West Rim Skywalk and make it to our flight in Las Vegas on time, we agreed to set our clocks for 5 AM. Ed surprised me with a Mother’s Day card, and I lamented not being with my Mom and daughters today. After showering and repacking, we loaded the car and drove to the rim behind the Verkamp’s Visitor Center to get one last glimpse of the canyon on this spectacular morning! Unlike yesterday, the skies were perfectly clear.
We took a few photographs and located the start of the Bright Angel Trail, which leads down into the canyon. We walked down about 100 steps where we encountered elk eating their morning breakfast! Pressed for time, we hurried back to the car and drove south out of the Park. We grabbed breakfast through a McDonalds drive thru just outside the entrance to the Park, and we complained that their prices were twice what we typically pay.
Our route to the West Rim was south on Hwy 64 to I-40, west to Kingman and then north on US93. We stopped at a Subway in Kingman to purchase sandwiches for lunch and proceeded on the two-lane highway leading to the Hualapai Reservation. When the road dead ended, we turned right onto Pierce Ferry Rd and then a final right onto Diamond Bar Road where the speed limit changed from 65 mph to 45 mph. Until now, we hardly saw a car, and the flat open road was bordered by desert land on both sides. Immediately after making the final turn, our attention diverted to the Joshua tree forest instead of the 45 mph speed limit signs. Within two miles, we passed a sheriff who was strategically waiting for innocent tourists. When he pulled us over, Ed admitted that we did not see the speed limit signs. Because Ed has almost a perfect driving record, the sheriff let us go with a warning; however, he suggested that we pay close attention to the speed limit signs ahead. He hinted that the tribal police would not be quite so generous. Driving at a snail’s pace between 25-45 mph through the Indian reservation, we finally reached our destination.
Since it was early, there were only about 100 cars in the parking lot. We were escorted to a large tent to purchase tickets and were informed that the cost of the shuttle bus tour and Sky Walk would be $75 (minus a senior discount) each! We baulked at the steep fee but resigned ourselves to paying it since we certainly would have been disappointed to have driven this far for nothing. I asked the ticket agent how long the tour lasted, and she responded 1 ½ – 2 hours. Realizing that our absolute maximum time at the West Rim was only 2 hours, we decided to skip the first stop, which was a replica of a western, desert ranch. To our disapproval, we were told that no cell phones or cameras would be permitted on the Sky Walk. Instead, we were asked to stow them in courtesy lockers located at the entrance to the platform.
Before stepping onto the Sky Walk, we had to put paper booties over our shoes to help protect the glass surface. The 70-foot cantilever walkway was approximately 8 feet wide and hung 4,000 feet above the canyon. The sensation of looking down through the glass walkway did not trigger my vertigo; however, it made Joyce a little queasy. Photographers were present to take our pictures, and we quickly figured out why we were not permitted to bring our cell phones or cameras onto the walkway 🙂 . Like most everyone else, we succumbed to the money-making scheme and purchased two pictures to help document this experience.
After exiting the Sky Walk, we found a picnic table with a good view of the canyon and ate the Subway sandwiches we had purchased in Kingman. We caught the next shuttle bus and elected to skip the last stop which offered more canyon views. Upon returning to the visitor center, we located our car and carefully abided by the speed limit on our drive toward Las Vegas. With a few spare minutes, we decided to make a quick stop at the Hoover Dam. Since Ed and I visited the dam ten years ago, they have built a new four-lane highway with a much-needed overlook.
We arrived in Las Vegas about 30 minutes ahead of schedule, returned the rental car, and took the shuttle to the airport to catch our flight to Reno. I took a short nap on the flight before we landed. We picked up our luggage at baggage claim and took a free shuttle to Circus, Circus – our hotel for the next two nights. After checking into our rooms, we ate a late dinner and took a brief tour of the three casinos (Circus, Circus; Silver Legacy, and Eldorado). Truthfully, we were too exhausted to even consider playing the slots so we headed to our rooms for the night.