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The Grand Canyon
The Grand Canyon

How It's Built: The Grand Canyon Skywalk, Arizona

6 Minute Read
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Tim Forestell
April 14, 2022

Why is the Grand Canyon famous?

The Grand Canyon formed approximately five to six million years ago as erosion from the Colorado River cut a deep channel through layers of rock. The natural landmark contains some of the oldest exposed rocks on Earth. Furthermore, the mile-high walls of the canyon reveal a cross-section of Earth’s crust going back nearly two billion years. With extensive fossil records, a multitude of geologic features, and rich archeological history, the Grand Canyon is one of the most studied landscapes in the world as well as one of the most visited landmarks every year.

3 facts about the Grand Canyon

  1. The entirety of Grand Canyon National Park is bigger than the state of Rhode Island

    • Rhode Island is around 1212 square miles, while the Grand Canyon National Park is a massive 1904 square miles! Most of the national park can be accredited to the canon itself which is over a mile deep and ten miles across. 

  2. The canyon is full of hidden caves

    • There are approximately 335 caves in the Grand Canyon that have been found. However, it is estimated that there are over 1000 caves within the canyon meaning that a large portion of the caves have not been discovered. Of these caves, only one is open to the public.

  3. Temperatures vary greatly within the canyon

    • Have you ever been skiing on a large mountain, and it’s snowing at the top and then you get to the bottom 20 minutes later and it’s raining at the bottom? This is comparable to the temperature change that the canyon experiences. From the rim of the canyon to its lowest point, the temperature can vary more than 25 degrees. The North Rim is frequently below freezing in the winter, while the depths of the gorge have been known to be particularly hot during the summer. 

How many states is the Grand Canyon in?

It can be confusing as to where the Grand Canyon is actually located due to its size. Although the Colorado River is the body of water that travels through the canyon, the landmark that we know as the Grand Canyon is in Arizona. The Grand Canyon is in the northwest corner of Arizona, close to the borders of Utah and Nevada. However, the Colorado River itself travels through seven different states!

Building the Skywalk

Many of us may wonder how the seemingly gravity-defying Grand Canyon Skywalk was built. What sort of engineering and construction techniques were used to be able to support a 1.2 million pound steel and glass structure to extend straight out from the edge of the West Rim and float 4,000 feet above the Canyon floor?

Once the site was blessed by the Hualapai tribe, construction of the Skywalk began on October 6, 2004. One month later drilling began and took about 18 months to complete. Additionally, another 4 months were needed to weld the 40-foot beams that would be used to construct the Skywalk and transport them to the construction site.

Using the same rod and plate method that is believed to be used by the ancient Egyptians to build the great pyramids, the Skywalk was assembled at the Rim and rolled into place. Next, the glass panels that make up the Skywalk’s transparent floor and weigh over 80,000 pounds were lifted into place using large suction cups and special manipulators designed to lift heavy panels.

Some of you may be nervous standing on a glass panel that extends over the edge of the canyon, but not to worry, each glass panel can hold up to 800 people at a time, and the Skywalk is made up of 46 panels! With the help of hundreds of highly skilled workers, this spectacular engineering piece took four years to build and cost more than $30 million to construct.

Here's a full video explaining how it was built and some of the history behind it.

What can be done at the Grand Canyon?

Apart from soaking in the outstanding views the Grand Canyon has to offer, there are many other ways to make your experience at the Grand Canyon even more memorable. There are many activities ranging from hiking, camping, and walking the Skywalk, to desert Jeep tours, white water rafting trips, and helicopter rides! Whatever you choose to do to enhance your Grand Canyon experience, there is no doubt that you will be amazed by the superior views the Grand Canyon has to offer. And now you have some fun facts to explain how the Skywalk was built and why it's safe to explore.

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Tim Forestell
Tim Forestell is one of DOZR’s co-founders and CCO. Tim got started in the industry as VP Operations for Forestell Landscaping before founding DOZR with Kevin and Erin. Aside from the amazing team at DOZR, his favourite thing about DOZR are the customers. Working with DOZR renters every day gives him a peek at the evolution of different projects and hearing stories about projects being developed from start to finish.
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