Maybe I would have appreciated our recent drive-by visit to the Grand Canyon to a greater extent if only we could have driven down into the vast chasm below. It is a long way and you don’t really see much looking down from the rim.
After all, that is where you find the stark beauty of the storied Colorado River as it flows powerfully through the five-million year old, mile-deep gorge. Walking all the way down there is such a pain.
Maybe that is why the Navajo tribe has suggested the construction of a $1 BILLION project, which would include a motorized aerial tramway that would ferry folks down into the canyon, as well as a half-mile river walk, a restaurant, resort hotel, spa, and RV park.
Certainly, a half-mile river walk is a hell of a lot more civilized than the many sweaty miles it takes to walk down there from the canyon rim, not to mention all the way back up again.
The AP story, which brought this ambitious plan to light, also mentioned the existing unnatural addition, already constructed by the Hualapai tribe, which created “a horseshoe-shaped glass bridge that juts out 70 feet over the canyon’s edge and gives tourists a view of the Colorado River 4,000 feet below.”
I could even take my Rascal motorized scooter out there and not even have to walk a whole half-mile.
The irony of this story, beyond the obvious affront to the basic concept of wilderness, is when I visited the Grand Canyon many years ago, the National Park Service published a list of questions often asked by visiting tourists.
These included, “Where is the road down into the canyon?” and “What time do they turn the lights on?”
Maybe given enough time and tribe money, the Grand Canyon might become a lot more accessible and, ah…well lit.
Now that would put the “wild” into the wilderness.
If that ever happens, people will be left to experience the real river as it was, as expressed so eloquently by award-winning travel writer Michael Shapiro in his story of rafting down the Colorado.