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- Helen Armitage
While not for the faint-hearted, these stunning viewpoints offer exhilarating vistas of the world’s most amazing man-made and natural sights. From the USA’s Grand Canyon Skywalk to the OCBC Walkway at Singapore’s Supertree Grove, The Culture Trip brings to you the planet’s most beautiful skywalks and viewpoints.
Grand Canyon Skywalk
Set a staggering 4,000 feet above the Colorado River bed, Arizona’s Grand Canyon Skywalk – a cantilever bridge extending 70 feet out over the stunning canyon at Eagle Point – may not be for the faint-hearted, but it certainly offers some of the most exhilarating views in the area. Owned and operated by the Hualapai Tribe, the skywalk opened to the public in early 2007 and has attracted around 370,000 visitors per year since. Designed by architect Mark Ross Johnson, with capital from late Las Vegas businessman David Jin, the Grand Canyon Skywalk can reportedly hold the weight of 71 fully loaded Boeing 747 jets.
Grand Canyon Skywalk, Eagle Point Road, Peach Springs, AZ, USA
Experience the Canadian Rockies on a whole other level at Glacier Skywalk, a spectacular glass-floored observation deck suspended 900 feet above the breathtakingly beautiful glacier-carved gorges and cascading waterfalls in the southern reaches of Alberta’s Jasper National Park. Officially opened in May 2014, after a construction time frame of three years and a cost of $21 million Canadian dollars, the Glacier Skywalk earned its designers Sturgess Architecture and Read Jones Christofferson a number of accolades, including a Future Projects Award at the 2011 World Architecture Festival and an Architizer A+ Award in 2015.
Glacier Skywalk, Icefields Parkway, Improvement District No. 12, Alberta, Canada, +1 866-606-6700
OCBC Skyway, Supertree Grove
Singapore’s surreal Supertree Grove is a series of manmade ‘trees’ constructed from concrete and steel and adorned with over 160,000 flowering plants in the Gardens by the Bay nature park. It is one of the city state’s most popular attractions and there’s no more magical way to experience it than the OCBC Skyway. 22 meters high and 128 meters long, the aerial walkway connects two of Supertree Grove’s 12 trees and offers visitors stunning panoramic views of the surrounding gardens and the Marina Bay skyline. Visitors stopping by the OCBC Skyway in the evening are treated to a free, immersive light and sound show, called the ‘Garden Rhapsody’.
OCBC Skyway, Supertree Grove, Gardens by the Bay, 18 Marina Gardens Drive, Singapore, +65 6420 6848
Top of Tyrol
Located in Austria’s Stubaier Gletscher skiing area, the Top of Tyrol viewing platform – designed by multi-award-winning Innsbruck-based architecture firm LAAC – is home to some of the most awe-inspiring views of the Stubai Alps that visitors are ever likely to experience. At an altitude of 3,210 meters and jutting out nine meters from the rock face, the platform features a free-of-charge telescope, providing information on the surrounding summits. For visitors with a real stomach for heights, the nearby Jochdohle – a modern restaurant located at an altitude of 3,150 meters – offers equally amazing panoramic views alongside homey, local eats.
Top of Tyrol, Stubaier Gletscher, Austria, +43 5226 8141
Tianmen Cliff-Hanging Walkway
Often hailed as one of the most beautiful mountains in the world, there are several hair-raising ways to see China’s Tianmen Mountain – including a six-mile-long road rising an astonishing 1,100 meters and featuring 99 hairpin bends, or a dizzying 1,279-meter-high cable car ride – but perhaps the most thrilling way to experience the scenic mountain is its Cliff-Hanging Walkway. Almost one-mile-long and clinging to the mountain at a height of 1,400 meters, the walkway features a section constructed from glass known as ‘The Walk of Faith’. Certainly not an experience for the lily-livered, the glass walkway offers vertigo-inducing views of the sheer drop below and is said to be easier to conquer on foggy days when the view is obscured.
Tianmen Cliff-Hanging Walkway, Tianmen Mountain, Yongding, Zhangjiajie, China, +86 773 283 1999
Iguazu Falls Gangway
Straddling the border between Brazil and Argentina, the Iguazu Falls are said to be some of the most breathtaking cascades in the world and at 1.7 miles wide – over a mile wider than Niagara Falls and over 1,000 meters wider than Africa’s stunning Victoria Falls – they certainly are a sight to be seen. Some of the most amazing views of Iguazu Falls are afforded at Devil’s Throat, the tallest of the waterfalls, from a series of gangways around 1,000 kilometers in length, leading to a balcony directly facing the 80-meter-high natural wonder.
Iguazu Falls Gangway, Iguazu National Park, Argentina, +54 3757 491 469
The 103rd floor of Chicago’s Willis Tower offers astonishing views of up to 50 miles across four states, and has welcomed an average of 1.7 million visitors a year since first opening in 1974. As if the view from The Skydeck wasn’t exhilarating enough, The Ledge offers an even more exciting way to see the Windy City and beyond. A series of retractable glass boxes, The Ledge is suspended 1,353 feet above the busy streets of Chicago and extends out 4.3 feet from the Willis Tower, offering some of the most photo-worthy, if knee-trembling, views the skyscraper has to offer.
The Skydeck, Floor 103, Willis Tower, 233 Wacker Drive, Chicago, IL, USA, +1 312-875 9696
Seeing the sights from the iconic Sydney Harbor Bridge’s pedestrian walkway may be alright for some, but for a truly memorable experience, BridgeClimb Sydney is the way to do it. Established in 1998 by Australian businessman Paul Cave, BridgeClimb Sydney allows visitors to actually scale one of the city’s most striking structures. A three and a half hour long experience, visitors ascend a total of 1,332 steps alongside tour leaders, bringing them to the mid-point of the Sydney Harbor Bridge where panoramic views of the city – the awe-inspiring Sydney Opera House included – await.
BridgeClimb, 3 Cumberland Street, The Rocks, Sydney, Australia, +61 2 8274 7777
Sky Walk, Arenal Rainforest
Homegrown Costa Rican company Sky Adventures offers something truly unique – a breathtakingly beautiful walk through the rainforest of the Arenal Volcano National Park via its suspended Sky Walk. A 2.2-mile-long trail rising up to 2,460 feet above the forest floor and lasting around three hours, the Arenal Rainforest Sky Walk features five bridges and allows visitors to experience Costa Rica’s amazing biodiversity up close and personal, passing by observations decks with stunning views of the surrounding forest and two enchanting waterfalls.
Sky Walk, Arenal Rainforest, La Fortuna, Costa Rica, +506 2479 4100
Kinzua Sky Walk
Part of a former viaduct constructed in 1882 to transport coal, oil and lumber across Pennsylvania’s Kinzua Gorge, the Kinzua Sky Walk – measuring 624-feet-long and 225-feet-high and located within the Kinzua Bridge State Park on the edges of Allegheny National Forest – is an old-world marvel reinvented for the modern era. Featuring a glass-bottomed observation deck, visitors can peer down at the historic structure’s supporting towers. An experience not to be missed.
Kinzua Sky Walk, 296 Viaduct Road, Mount Jewett, PA, USA, +1 800 473 9370