Who doesn't love a good view? Looking out over somewhere new from an incredible vantage point is something I think we all like to do when exploring a new destination. In some cases it helps us get our bearings, say in a new city, but at other times such views simply allow us to take in the beauty and scale of Mother Nature.
1. Grand Canyon Skywalk – Arizona, USA
Take in the big GC in all its glory from the glass horseshoe shaped platform, suspended a massive 4000ft above the Colorado River bank.
Commissioned and owned by the
Hualapai Indian tribe, the skywalk was opened on March 28th 2007. Costing some $30 million for the complete complex, which includes a museum, movie theatre, VIP lounge, gift shop and several restaurants, the site attracts well in excess of half a million visitors per year.
It’s not hard to understand why when such incredible views are on offer.
2. Aurland Lookout (Norway)
I love this lookout because of its unusual design and the fear factor when you get right up close to the edge. I also love that the curved wooden design and build is the result of a competition in 2002, commissioned by the Norwegian Highway Department.
Located 3 hours north of Bregan, the architectural team behind the lookout - Todd Saunders and Tommie Wilhelmsen - are on record as stating that “nature first, architecture second” was their guiding principal. Their visions became a reality when the Aurland lookout was opened in 2006.
The lookout extends 110 horizontal feet from the treetops. The curved end gives the illusion that it is possible to slip, fall and plunge 2000ft into the cold and beautiful forest land below. Of course a strategically placed pane of super thick glass means that can’t actually happen, health and safety n’all!
3. Tiefenbachkogl Footbridge – Tirol, Austria
This is a 20 metre long catwalk with epic views over the Ötztal Alps. There’s not an immense amount written about the bridge and its views, so if you want to be one of the first to visit, you can start by climbing up to the top station of the Tiefenbach mountain gondola in the Austrian Tirol.
… and if you’re going to the Tiefenbachkogl Footbridge, you might also check out its partners in crime. The incredible cable-suspended bridge is one of the BIG THREE viewing platforms within the resort of Solden. All three platforms are 3,000 metres or higher.
- Tiefenbachkogl (3,250m) and
- Schwarze Schneide (3,340 m)
4. Glacier Skywalk – Jasper, Canada
Three years in the making and at a cost of $21 million (CND), this glass-bottom platform is perched 218 metres above the Sunwapta valley floor, near the border between Banff and Jasper National Parks.
Reaching out 100ft from the cliffs within which it is set, punters can step out onto the glass (crawling is also an option) and experience life more than 918ft above the valley floor. Gulp!
Interestingly, this structure is eco friendly in that it’s materials are designed to blend in with their surroundings and solar is used to power the operation and minimize its environmental footprint. It helps protect the environment which it gazes over, that’s top draw!
5. 'Coiling Dragon Cliff' and the 'Walk of Faith' skywalks - China
Saving the best till last? … perhaps.
The most terrifying? … almost certainly.
It’s double bubble here, two for the price of one, but only the brave need apply.
Located on the same mountain within the
Zhangjiajie National Forest Park, Hunan province in China, these two equally terrifying walks stretch around the Tianmen mountains rather than out from it.
Visitors tend to cling to the rocks beside them and edge their way around the skywalks, scared that at any minute the glass walkway below them willvanish from beneath their feet.To be fair, it’s a long way down, so being scared is fully justified in my book. If you can bear to open your eyes and prize yourself away from the rock face, the views on offer over this part of the world are insane. But even if you aren’t able to open your eyes, you get my respect for even attempting these skywalks.
Coiling Dragon Cliff:
- 100 metres long
- 99 snaking turns
Walk of Faith:
- 60 metres long
- 4000ft above the forest below
So have you got the head for heights that’s required to take on these incredible decks and platforms? As mentioned, only the brave need apply, however I’m sure that if you really really really wanted to take in the views, you’d find the courage from somewhere and overcome any fears and wobbly knees you may have.