By Jean Strauber, Travel Editor
In 2004 I had the real pleasure of visiting the Utah towns of Moab, Price and Vernal on a Canyonlands, Dinosaurs and Outlaws tour. We gasped at the beauty of Arches National Park, oohed and aahed at the petroglyphs and pictographs etched so many hundreds and thousands of years ago, were amazed at the fossils exhibited at the new fossil museum in Vernal, jumped into one of the quarries at the Cleveland-Lloyd Dinosaur Park and were awed by the Dinosaur National Monument. For those of you that have long admired the scenery in the John Ford westerns from Hollywood’s Golden Age, or even in the more recent 20th century’s “Thelma and Louise,” Utah’s Canyonlands have long been a popular destination for Hollywood producers. You can see the Canyonlands on your own but you can also book guided tours. Guided tours might have an advantage for exploring as you’ll have local guides who are immersed in the history,
geology and flavor of Canyon Country. They will add a dimension that is otherwise unavailable. Here are some guided tours presented by Canyonlands By Day And Night that you might want to use when visiting Utah’s Canyonlands:
Canyonlands By Day and Night – Your guides will help you see the magic of Canyon Country by night. A riverboat on the Colorado River will take you on a journey where you’ll find a star-filled sky and high red rock canyon walls. The hosts are knowledgeable and humorous while sharing not only the wonders of their backyard, but also Indian legends, geology and history. Meanwhile the rock walls come alive with powerful lights, adding color and beauty. The adventure begins at dusk.
Ancient American Expedition – This is a fourhour daytime (morning or afternoon) tour that will take you to little-known rock art sites. They include original, ancient depictions of what archaeologists call the Moab Man, the Birthing Stone and the Intestine Man. You’ll be on both paved and backcountry roads through breathtaking vistas.
Deserts To Alpine Peaks Adventure – This tour will take you on both paved and dirt roads to explore the La Sal Mountains’ snowcapped peaks, abundant meadows filled with wildflowers, clear streams and mountain lakes. You’ll be awed by the vistas of the Colorado River and Canyon-edged valleys. Don’t be surprised if you find deer, elk and even wild bear in view. The four-hour tour (morning or afternoon) will pass many familiar movie and television commercial locations.
Land Before Time Excursions – 4-by-4 enthusiasts come to Moab and the Canyonlands for some of the best trails available to off-road vehicles. You’ll travel into the backcountry with guides and vehicles wellversed on these trails, including Gemini Bridges and most modern and bestequipped boats for this part of the Colorado River. On your boat trip from Moab, you’ll see spectacular, remote canyons, petrified forests, fossil beds, Indian ruins, arches, petroglyphs, Thelma and Louise point and Dead Horse point. The motors will be turned off for part of the trip for a quiet float with only the sounds of nature to be heard.
Canoe Trips – If you want to explore on your own, Canyonlands By Day And Night has canoe rentals available for a self-guided trip to discover magnificent red rock canyons. High quality Osagian canoes, equipped with everything needed for a safe and relaxing trip are featured. Choose between a 10 and 18-mile trip departing daily. A shuttle pick-up is included.
Arches National Park – This is a must-see and do if you’re visiting Utah’s Canyonlands. Like me, you’ll find the four-hour tour (either morning or afternoon) spellbinding and enchanting. A knowledgeable guide is available, who will relate the history of the arches and detail how the forces of nature have created this wonderland. Within the park’s 76,519 acres is the highest concentration of natural stone openings in the world. Look for the Delicate Arch, North and South Windows, Double, Turret, Skyline and Landscape Arch. Your mini-bus will also take you to see Balanced Rock, Fiery Furnace, Devil’s Garden and the Three Gossips.
Canyonlands National Park Island In The Sky– This four-hour tour (either morning or afternoon) will take you to the plateau known as ‘The Island.” You’ll gaze down at scenery reminiscent of the Grand Canyon, with the river bottom 21,000 feet below. Views include the distant La Sal Mountains, the confluence of the Green and Colorado Rivers and the pinnacles of the Needles District on the bottom. Your guide will fill you in on the mysteries of the geology, history and unique character of the land.
Where God Put The West Movie Tour – On this four-hour morning or afternoon tour you’ll experience the scenic beauty and geographic diversity of many of the sites where over 50 movies have been filmed since 1949. You’ll discover firsthand why so many movie companies found this land so enchanting. On this tour you’ll also be invited to taste Moab wines at Castle Creek Winery and visit the John Wayne Museum. For more information about these and other tours provide by Canyonlands By Day And Night, please go to canyonlandsbynight.com or call (435) 259-BOAT.