Saturday, April 14, 2018

Las Vegas: A Walk on the Wild Side Part 1

Who goes to Las Vegas and never even sees a casino? It wasn't our plan but that's what happened when we realized how close we were to some of the countries most naturally beautiful places and weird wonders.
Fred and I stayed for a week at Nellis Air Force Base. We usually enjoy our military FamCamps and Nellis has a nice one. We enjoyed watching the Thunderbirds practice early in the week and hearing Taps on a Friday evening is always such a calming experience. I must admit that I don't enjoy Reveille as much.
We had quite a list of things to do that included some major Las Vegas attractions, then we realized how close we were to Grand Canyon West and that their new zip line was operational. We mapped it out and found that the drive was doable as a day trip at 125 miles one way.
There are only service animals allowed at the Grand Canyon so we found a doggie day care for Rascal. If anyone is looking for day boarding in Las Vegas we had a great experience with the Petsmart Dog Day Camp on North Rainbow Blvd. They are open from 7am-9pm giving us plenty of time for our adventure.

Fred on the Zipline.
Vegas traffic is snarly, especially in the morning. There was a lot of road construction that added to the mess but once out of the city we had a smooth ride. We drove through Boulder City on the Way and got some great views of Lake Meade before driving across the Hoover Dam. I was disappointed to realize that you can't see the Dam from the road but not so much that I wanted to delay our arrival at the Grand Canyon by stopping. There is a large Joshua Tree forest to drive through, a few miles of open range (with cattle pretty close to the road) and The Hualapai Reservation. Grand Canyon West is privately owned and operated by the Hualapai people.

The view from Hualapai Ranch
We arrived at the visitor center and where a gracious information desk host helped us decide which tours we wanted to participate in. There are many to choose from including air tours by small plane or helicopter, and water tours of the Colorado by raft, pontoon or river boat. Fred was there for the Zip Line and we both wanted to enjoy the Skywalk.
Once through ticketing we boarded a shuttle for Hualapai Ranch. The ranch is set up like a small western town with wood framed buildings and wooden sidewalks. There are gift shops and restaurants and a wonderful  Coffee Shop that serves ice cream. There are cabins overlooking the canyon for overnight guests. Some folks were practicing their bull riding and cattle roping skills while others prepared for a horse back ride. Hualapai Ranch is where the Zipline Center is located. Fred got ready for his instructions while I wandered the wild west drinking coffee. I was able to get a distant photo of him swinging out over the canyon. We didn't plan very well. I should have had him wear a bright orange shirt so he was easier to pick out.

Fred at Eagle Point 
Once he returned we got back on the shuttle for Eagle Point and our first good look at the canyon. It was breathtaking standing so close to the edge. The stop is named Eagle Point for a rock formation on the opposite side of the canyon. It looks like an eagle with its wings spread, soaring straight up to the sky. Eagle Point is the location of the Skywalk. 

The views to the bottom of the canyon were fantastic.
I never thought that I would find myself standing on a glass platform 4000 feet above the floor of the Grand Canyon but we did it! It helps that there are strong railings and photographer/tour guides that help to explain the vast distances. I'm not saying that vertigo didn't occur but it was an exhilarating experience and one that I wouldn't have missed. It was absolutely thrilling to be able to look down into the canyon and to try and feel the enormity of the space.
We thought that after the exhilaration of the zip line and the joy of the skywalk stop 3 called Guano Point would be a let down. We couldn't have been more wrong.

Guano Point
There used to be a bat cave across the canyon. During the 1950's the guano in the cave was mined for fertilizer. The project was short lived due to the expense of running the operation. You can still see the remnants of the tram that was used to transport miners and guano across the canyon. 

Guano Point has a trail that allows you to climb to the Highpoint for 360 degree views of the canyon and surrounding landscape. This is the most picturesque place at Grand Canyon West and we are glad that we took the time to stop there. When you visit wait to eat lunch at Guano Point the food choices are great and the outdoor dining area has wonderful views of the canyon. Hualapai vendors offer handcrafted native American jewelry and crafts at this stop as well.

The ravens at Guano Point were huge

Grand Canyon West
5001 Diamond Bar Rd
Peach Springs, AZ


  1. It was a very different experience from the south rim.

  2. The skywalk made me nervous just looking at the photo! But what a view that had to be.

    1. It’s definitely worth the 20 minutes of heart thumping terror Mark.