Will the Proposed Gondola Scar Grand Canyon?

The Grand Canyon is one of the most spectacular landscapes on Earth, changed by no other force but nature for millions of years. But now the world famous Grand Canyon view could be in danger of being scarred by a man-made aberration.

Why, you ask?

A Scottsdale developer and some members of the Navajo Nation have proposed a $150-million gondola attraction that would someday ferry visitors down a cable-car system to an elevated walkway, where they could see the canyon walls on either side of them.

The inspiration behind the proposed tourist attraction, known as the Grand Canyon Escalade, came from other scenic aerial tramways in places such as the Swiss Alps and Napa Valley, said developer R. Lamar Whitmer.

The design plans also include shops, snack bars, hotels, and a museum.

According to Whitmer, currently, the average tourist has a difficult time visiting certain parts of the Grand Canyon. Visitors can see the bottom of the Grand Canyon if they walk down, ride a mule or take a helicopter.

“It’s about the experience for the average person,” Whitmer said. “What better place to see the canyon from the rim and then go to the bottom and experience the enormity and awe of seeing the top?”

But not everyone agrees with the proposed project. Members of “Save the Confluence” say that the project will desecrate holy ground if it is built on its proposed location.

“The area above the confluence is like our church,” said Dee Wilson-Aguirre, a spokeswoman for the group.

U.S. National Park Service officials also have their doubts about the project. Park superintendent Dave Uberuaga recently described the proposed project to the Los Angeles Times as “serious threats” to the future of the Grand Canyon National Park.

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Whitmer may be best known as the president of the Maricopa County Sports Authority that made a push in the 90s to bring Major League Baseball to Arizona.

Let’s see if he also manages to “push” his way down the Grand Canyon.

We want to hear from our readers. In your opinion, would a gondola scar the Grand Canyon or make a Grand Canyon trip even more attractive?