Moab Happenings Archive
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Business Happenings - April 2007

A Family Mission
Annabelle Numaguchi

When you drive south on Highway 191 into Moab, glance to the right before heading over the bridge that spans the Colorado River and you’ll notice a building known as the Old Mission Store. Located within this structure perched on the northern bank of the river is a family business that no visitor will want to miss.

Canyonlands by Night

Canyonlands by Night and Day has been owned and operated by a family clan for over four decades. This company offers a comprehensive list of delightful excursions into the dramatic landscapes in and surrounding Moab, the most notable of which is its singular Sound and Light show.

This full-evening performance offers Moab visitors a unique way of experiencing nightfall on the river and a spectacular view of the canyon walls illuminated under 40,000 watts of light. This show appeals to people of all ages, from children to grandparents, and requires no physical exertion. On the contrary, it is pure relaxation.
It begins with a hearty Dutch-oven dinner, where the food is as good as the view. Following the meal, Canyonlands by Night motors its guests up river, during which time the setting of the sun glows off the rim walls in saturated hues of orange and red, contrasting with the deepening azure of the sky and water.

The real show begins when night has fallen. A recorded performance, translated into four languages, is choreographed to a spectacular light show. The audio presentation includes a Ute legend, the history of white settlers in the region, and music.

The audio presentations starts be reciting the beginning of the Old Testament, and when the passage arrives to the part, “Let there be light,” the powerful ambulatory light illuminates the south canyon wall.
Although this unique and memorable show is their signature trip, Canyonlands by Night and Day also offers wonderful day tours on the river. The company runs a four-hour jetboat tour, available starting in the morning and afternoon.

This trip figuratively takes you back in time, traveling through petrified trees, ancient fossils and sandstone formations. The trip features three major arches: Poison Spider, Jughandle and Hidden. Guests board at the private dock located at the Old Mission Store, and are taken by a comfortable jetboat and knowledgeable guide down thirty-two miles of flat water, portions of which can only be reached by boat.

Because this area is little traveled, the riparian environment is tranquil, pristine and full of wildlife, including herons, wild turkeys and deer.

The tour makes several stops on the way downstream so that guests can stretch their legs and briefly explore. The boat turns around at the bottom of Goose Neck Bend, just below Dead Horse Point, and jets up river giving guests the opportunity of viewing all the fascinating formations from the opposite vantage point and for a second time.

The family who runs these wonderful river trips is inspired by the majestic scenery of the area. The mother of the current CEO took the evening cruise over four decades ago, before the family took over the operation. She was so enchanted with her experience and felt that everyone visiting this area should have the opportunity to view it in this unique way. Convinced by this matriarch, the family bought the business and has stayed true to the original mission; to make every visitor’s experience here pleasantly memorable.

Because Canyonlands by Night and Day wishes to keep people enjoying Moab and coming back, they offer a variety of trips beyond their well-know river cruises. They also coordinate excursions with other local outfitters to facilitate planning for visitors and enable them to experience any of the exciting activities the are offers, including white water rafting, 4x4 excursions, ATVs and Hummer tours.

Canyonlands by Night and Day is a one-stop place where explorers can access the vast wilderness and majesty of Moab. The company remains true to its eloquent mission statement, “Our goal is to augment that beauty by providing intimate trips with knowledgeable guides who have many years of experience in this are while respecting the country’s pristine character.” This family-run business is dedicated to helping visitors make the best use of their time while in Moab, and ensuring that people want to return.

As we learn through the audio presentation during the Sound and Light show, Moab’s human history reveals how transitory each group’s stay has been. Moab is graced with dramatic beauty thanks to extreme terrain that can make living here rough. Look at the abundance of ancient Pueblo Petroglyphs-but how many Native Americans live here today?

The Mormon settlers relinquished their hold on the area fairly quickly. When the uranium boom of the Fifties finally burst, few people endured through the thirty-some-year gap of industry. Thanks to the flourish of tourism, Moab is blossoming again. But will visitors always flock to view and enjoy this desert oasis?
One family’s mission is to ensure that this is so.

Canyonlands by Night & Day can be reached at (435) 259-5261 or (800) 394-9978 or on the web at They are located just north of the Colorado River Bridge at the Old Mission Store. Children must be at least four years old to go on river trips.

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