FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. (AP) — Getting to the Grand Canyon Skywalk used to include a teeth-chattering drive over a washboard road fraught with dips and twists.
Motorists have a smoother drive to the Hualapai Tribe's most popular tourist destination now that Diamond Bar Road is completely paved.
The road was the biggest drawback in reaching the Skywalk, a glass bridge that juts out 70 feet from the canyon walls and gives visitors a view of the Colorado River 4,000 feet below. Tour operators had complained of broken windows, flat tires, missing hubcaps and dust.
"It was awful, painful, torturous," said Bessy Lee, director of brand and marketing for CHD Inc., a Las Vegas-based company that takes tourists to the Skywalk. "It totally destroys the underbody of your coaches and your vehicle and tires and everything else. Now that the road is paved, it's an absolute joy."
Paving the final 9-mile stretch cost more than $30 million. The tribe had hoped to have it done when it opened the Skywalk in 2007, but a legal challenge from a local dude rancher and a lack of funding postponed it. The tribe paid the rancher, Nigel Turner, $750,000 to settle a lawsuit over the paving project, and saved up federal funds for 10 years.
Turner later reopened the case, saying an easement he granted to the federal government to allow public access on his property off Diamond Bar Road had expired, construction was harming his guests, and amenities agreed upon in the settlement weren't being carried out.
Continue reading this story on the...