Tribune Media Services
Phobias can be as simple as disliking enclosed places or not wanting to see snakes or spiders, but one of the most common phobias held by adults is a fear of heights.
The members and editors of travel website VirtualTourist.com have identified the “Top 5 Skywalks (aka “Places Not to Look Down”) in both man-made and natural settings, that might scare even the most nonacrophobe.
1. The Ledge at Skydeck Chicago, Willis Tower, Chicago, Ill.: Briefly the tallest building in the world, the Willis Tower (formerly the Sears Tower) is a tribute to American ingenuity and Chicago’s days as the Second City.
The Tower’s Skydeck, which opened in 1974, attracts more than 1.3 million visitors annually to the 103rd floor of the building; its glass walls provide unobstructed views of Chicago and up to four states bordering the city.
In July 2009, the Tower and the city raised the ante by building The Ledge, a series of glass bays that jut out 4.3 feet from the Skydeck. Visitors get a direct view from 1,353 feet above street level.
2. Grand Canyon’s Skywalk, Grand Canyon West, Hualapai Reservation, Ariz.: The Grand Canyon’s Skywalk, was built in 2007 to much acclaim and interest.
Ironically, the Grand Canyon Skywalk is not located inside the national park or near Canyon Village, but at Grand Canyon West, a Native American tribal park owned and operated by the Hualapai Indians about five hours from the main national park.
For those daring enough to step out onto the horseshoe shaped platform, looking down will present them with a 500- to 800-foot vertical drop view of the Colorado River at the base of the canyon.
3. CN Tower, Toronto, Ontario, Canada: In addition to serving as a major communications hub within the city, Toronto’s CN Tower is also the city’s tallest landmark. The Tower’s glass floor, the first of its kind in the world, has only 2.5 inches of glass suspending visitors 113 stories above the ground.
Take an additional elevator up another 33 stories to Sky Pod, to see a 360-degree view of Toronto from 1,465 feet above the ground.
The Tower also has a revolving restaurant called 360, featuring the world’s highest wine cellar and an unforgettable romantic setting.
The Tower has recently started offering EdgeWalk, the world’s highest full-circle, hands-free walk, on a 5-foot-wide ledge that encircles the Tower’s main pod, more than 1,168 feet (116 stories) above the ground.
4. Skywalk on Tianmen Mountain, Zhangjiajie, Hunan, China: By far the most remote of our chosen skywalks, more than 800 miles from Shanghai, the Skywalk on Tianmen Mountain is also unique in the astonishing height at which it was built, while also being built onto a natural object.
The pathway, which runs alongside the Tianmen Mountain in Zhangjiajie National Forest Park, suspends the visitor 4,692 feet high in the air, providing amazing views of the surrounding mountains and the nature of Hunan Province.
Visitors are required to wear sock booties because they have been unable to find workers willing to clean the glass floor at this height.
5. Top of Tyrol, Stubai Glacier, Tyrol, Austria: The Top of Tyrol doesn’t have a glass floor; however, the weather-resistant steel caged floor of the platform means visitors can see directly below them, 10,500 feet to the ground.
The platform is on the Great Isidor in the middle of the Stubai Glacier, providing a panoramic view of more than 9,843 feet, with sights including the Otztal Valley, the Stubai Alps and the Dolomites.
&Copy; 2012 VirtualTourist.com, Distributed by Tribune Media Services Inc.