Nicole and I are in Vegas for the Diamond/Alliance Open House. We had yesterday free, as our set-up took all of half and hour and we did that today. We’re feeling rather done with Vegas, except for the fine dining. If we were super rich, it’d be another story, but we’ve pretty much done the stuff we are interested in and can afford. We decided to be spontanteous, so we rented a car and drove to the Hoover Dam and the Grand Canyon yesterday instead of hanging out town.
Our initial plan was to just go to the Hoover Dam, which is indeed quite impressive. The 500 hundred mile drive to the Grand Canyon seemed too much for a day trip, but then we heard that the West face was much closer. After touring the dam, we decided to continue into Arizona and check it out. Normally, Nicole and I do a lot of research before taking trips. Grand Canyon West is a case study in why that’s a good idea.
So we drove over the Hoover Dam and into Arizona. Less than an hour later we turned off the highway and started following a local road through some depressing small towns. Signs told us it was only 39 miles to Grand Canyon West. “This is a lot better than driving 500 miles,” I said.
The next turnoff was on to an unpaved gravel road. One car in front of us went about a hundred feet and then turned around. Having come this far, we decided to push on. The road snaked through the desert for 14 miles. Cars kicked up gravel and clouds of dust and I began to wonder if the rental car would take any damage we’d be liable for. Finally we reached pavement again and a sign informed us we were on Hualapai Indian land and parking there cost $20.
At last we reached Grand Canyon West, or rather the parking lot for Grand Canyon West. Here we discovered that the $20 parking fee was just the beginning. You couldn’t just park and go see the canyon. You had to buy a $30 “Hualapai Legacy” package that would allow you on a bus that took you the final distance to the canyon. There were, of course, a bunch oo add-ons like helicopter rides and a hummer “off-road adventure.” The big attraction was the Skywalk Glass Bridge, which lets you walk above the Grand Canyon. That was another $30. I said to hell with that, but Nik decided to go for it. Now I have been to tourist traps before but this one really earned the name. Once you’ve driven all that way, you either suck it up and pay or turn around and admit you have wasted your day.
The first stop on the bus was Eagle Point. The view is not that great unless you go out on the Skywalk. Nicole went out while I looked at sample Indian dwellings and the construction site for the resort that’s coming soon. Nik found out that you aren’t allowed to take pictures on the Skywalk. That’s something else they want to charge you for.
The next stop was Guano Point and it had a much better view than Eagle Point. You could walk out onto the point and look down the canyon in either direction. There were no guard rails, so you to be careful. We climbed to the top of the point, away from the noise and the tour buses. Out there on the rocks, with muddy Colorado River far below and beautiful rock formations in every direction, I finally got what I wanted. I didn’t think it would be such an ordeal or cost that much money, but at least Guano Point delivered the goods.
I would rarely recommend this when traveling, but if you are in Vegas and you want to see the Grand Canyon, you’re better off just going on a charter bus than driving. Other than the Hoover Dam, there is nothing to see or do on the route so you won’t be missing much in the way of the road trip experience.
The exhibit hall at the trade show opens in an hour, so I must dash. One more state and one more site checked off my list.