Many people who visit the Grand Canyon, that immense gorge of the Colorado River that ranks as one of the world’s most famous landmarks, do so via the eponymous national park, which encompasses both the South and North rims. The West Rim has become a burgeoning tourist attraction in its own right, much of it lying on the lands of the Hualapai. These longtime residents of the Grand Canyon region now market their “Grand Canyon West” as an alternative vacation destination; the spot includes the much-hyped Grand Canyon Skywalk. Consider several lodging opportunities in the vicinity.
The Hualapai tribe -- "People of the Tall Pine” -- traditionally ranged a broad area on the Colorado Plateau as hunter-gatherers and traders. The historical homeland, according to the National Park Service, was bounded by such landmarks as the San Francisco Peaks, the Black Mountains, the Bill Williams River and the Grand Canyon itself, which the Hualapai call “Hakataya” -- "the backbone of the river." They now operate a number of tourist concessions in the vicinity of Grand Canyon West, part of their million-acre reservation that abuts 108 miles of the Canyon rim.
The Hualapai Ranch offers cabin accommodations, advertising each structure as facing in the direction of the gorge. In addition, the grounds feature Wild West-themed activities from mock cattle drives and showdowns to horseback and wagon rides near the lip of the Canyon. Also near the West Rim are the rentable cabins and tepees of the Grand Canyon Ranch. About two hours from Grand Canyon West in the reservation’s headquarters, Peach Springs, lies the Hualapai Lodge. This includes some 60 rooms with free wireless Internet and access to a pool, spa and fitness center. A full-service dining area in the Diamond Creek Restaurant serves cultural dishes like Hualapai tacos and frybread.
Hualapai Lodge is a jumping-off point for the Diamond Creek Road, which leads to Grand Canyon West and the Skywalk. The town itself, Peach Springs, lies astride the most extensive remaining length of Route 66. There is an airport at Grand Canyon West. As private transportation is not allowed in the resort area, shuttle buses weave continually through the area during the day and service a personal-vehicle parking area.
Perhaps the most well-known attraction at the West Rim is the Grand Canyon Skywalk, which the Hualapai opened in 2007. This glass-encased walkway, some 4,000 feet above the Colorado River, takes the visitor off the canyon rim and over the defile itself, suggesting the experience of walking on air. Those staying in West Rim-area accommodations can also explore the canyon via more traditional, adventurous methods. Lacing up hiking boots and taking some of the area’s trails is a great way to get up close and personal with the landscape. Several paths lead from Grand Canyon West. Whitewater rafting is also offered through the Hualapai company, Hualapai River Runners; a one-day rafting trip through the gorge culminates with a helicopter return flight to Grand Canyon West.
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