What's as important as seeing the Skywalk? Getting there. And nothing is more dramatic than taking a Las Vegas helicopter to the "glass bridge."
These flights depart from Las Vegas and reach the Skywalk in 45 minutes. En route, you'll fly over Lake Mead, the largest man-made reservoir in the U.S., and Hoover Dam, which now includes the spectacular Mike O'Callaghan-Pat Tillman Memorial Bridge.
Before you know it, there it is: The Grand Canyon Skywalk, glittering like a diamond under the bright desert sun.
Keep that camera clicking - the spectacular descent kicks in at this point. Out the window you'll see Eagle and Guano Points, the authentic Indian Village, the Colorado River, and the Grand Canyon's famous skyline before landing at Grand Canyon West, a 9,000-acre area owned by the Hualapai Indian Tribe.
The "glass bridge" is a modern-day marvel of civil engineering. The cantilevered walkway extends 70 feet past the edge and suspends guests 4,000 feet above the Colorado River. The bridge is strong and can hold up to 71 fully loaded 747 jumbo jets. It can also withstand earthquakes up to magnitude 8 on the Richter Scale. Built to support up to 800 people, the Skywalk's maximum occupancy is 120.
The deck is comprised of 46 glass panels that cost $250,000 each. This glass can scratch, which is why no personal electronics, including digital cameras and smart phones, are allowed. You are also required to put cloth booties over your shoes. Photographers are available to take your picture, and there are mounted cameras on the guardrails.
There are two types of Skywalk Grand Canyon helicopter tours from Las Vegas. The air tour takes you to the Grand Canyon and over the bridge and back to Vegas. Total tour time is 3.5 hours. The other lands and includes VIP Skywalk tickets and lunch. This trip lasts 6.5 hours. Both trips include free hotel shuttle service to most major Las Vegas Strip hotels.
These helicopter flights are safe, comfortable, and fun. Most tour operators use the EcoStar 130, a fantastic aircraft that features a cabin 25% larger than conventional helicopters. This extra space permits stadium-style seating and huge 180-degree wraparound windows. They also come equipped with two-way digital communication systems and a pre-recorded narration translated into more than 10 languages.
These helicopter tours can be extremely cheap. The best prices are on the Internet. I recommend purchasing direct from the tour operator. In addition to getting the best price, you'll also have peace of mind knowing that your reservation is confirmed and that there will not be any "day-of" reschedulings. Which reminds me: Never book when you arrive in Las Vegas. These tours sell out. Always book in advance.
The Grand Canyon Skywalk is a spectacular event. To do it right, take a helicopter tour from Las Vegas. These helicopters fly at a lower altitude than airplanes, giving you the ultimate bird's eye view when you soar over Lake Mead, Hoover Dam, and the Skywalk. Plus, they're fast, reaching speeds in excess of 200 miles per hour. If it all sounds over the top, it is. Which is exactly how you should remember your Grand Canyon Skywalk experience.