June 08, 2008

Grand Canyon vs. Grand Canyon West

As popularity of Skywalk grows, so does Grand Canyon rivalryClare Cornick and Pat Pascale boarded the SweetTours charter bus from the Marriott Grand Chateau time-share just after sunrise, bound for their first peek into the Grand Canyon.

The childhood friends from New Jersey, now living on opposite coasts, opened their free breakfast packs and settled in for the three-hour drive to Grand Canyon West, the isolated, internationally known home to the new glass Skywalk.

They picked it over Grand Canyon National Park because it was less than half the distance and put them back in Las Vegas before dark. The trip to the park would have meant three more hours on the road.

"I didn't want to mess with that," said Pascale, a retired educator.

Their rationale is marketing gold to the Native Americans behind Grand Canyon West and heresy to Canyon purists at the government-run park to the east, a fixture of family vacations and outdoor adventures for decades.

In the 14 months since the Skywalk opened and tripled visitor counts at 20-year-old Grand Canyon West, the rivalry and rhetoric between the "two" canyons has widened beyond the 250 miles that separate them.

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