MOAB, UT– In 1964, 257,640 acres of high desert in Utah were formally designated by President Lyndon B. Johnson as Canyonlands National Park. Some 10,000 years ago Native Americans lingered here long enough to signal their presence through drawings (petroglyphs) on rock walls. Only 2,000 years ago hunter-gatherer tribes created granaries to store their harvests. Many granaries still survive. Early European settlers gazed farther west, leaving this geologically challenging world as the hideout for a handful of outlaws.
Today, with its 60th anniversary upon us, Canyonlands National Park remains the least visited among Utah’s “Big 5” national parks despite offering some of the best rafting, hiking, jeep tours, mountain biking and canyoneering in the country. In 2024, Moab Adventure Center is making it easier than ever to access some or all of the vast park.
One of the most overlooked (and most breathtaking) districts of Canyonlands National Park is the River District. Carving its way through this unmatched landscape is the mighty Colorado River. Kam Wixom, Marketing Director for Moab Adventure Center, reports “a remarkable surge in popularity” with their 96-mile, 2-day Cataract Canyon Express raft trip (per person rate $955) or Cataract Canyon 4-Day Expedition (per person rate $1935) through class III-IV rapids in the heart of Canyonlands National Park. Rates include transfers, hiking, camping, meals and whitewater rafting (plus scenic flight on 4-day trip).
For those who can only spare a few hours on the river, Colorado River Jet Boat Fun Run for $139 per person is a three-hour, 64-mile jet boat excursion with canopy-covered seating into spectacular river scenery bordering Canyonlands National Park. Snacks and drinks are served along with commentary by the guide/pilot. Keep an eye out for a petrified forest, fossil beds, spectacular rock cliffs, Indian ruins, petroglyphs and arches. See: https://www.moabadventurecenter.com/jet-boat-colorado-river
To grasp the grandeur and enormity of all of Canyonlands, Moab Adventure Center can arrange a one-hour Canyonlands National Park Airplane Tour. The flights are year-round and scheduled to depart daily at 9 a.m. All guests have window views and headsets to enjoy the commentary of a professional pilot on a 125-mile flyover that includes regions inaccessible to hikers. The per-person rate is $249 ($187 ages 12-3). An 80-minute Arches and Canyonlands Airplane Tour also departs year-round daily. The per person rate is $329 ($247 ages 12-3). See https://www.moabadventurecenter.com/moab-air-tours for details.
Moab Adventure Center also maps out 4×4 Jeep Rentals for up to five passengers (including driver) available for one-day or multi-day use. The vehicles are brand-new modified Jeep Rubicons, considered the best and most capable jeep to explore the trails. Jeep Rubicons feature an automatic transmission, a 3-inch lift kit, oversized tires, seat belts for 5, and free satellite radio. A per-vehicle daily rate of $330 includes a book of trail maps, a cooler of water and ice, and 150 free miles daily. GPS signal monitors in every Jeep means you are never really lost in the backcountry surrounding Moab. Complimentary airport and in-town shuttles are included. See https://www.moabadventurecenter.com/moab-jeep-rentals-rubicon
This National Park Service site https://www.nps.gov/cany/index.htm is a starting point for a pre-visit discovery of Canyonlands. It even includes time management touring tips for those with one hour or several days to spend in one or more of NPS’ designated regions – called sections – of Canyonlands. Please see https://www.nps.gov/cany/planyourvisit/itineraries.htm
Moab Adventure Center is a division of Western River Expeditions (http://www.westernriver.com/) an adventure travel company headquartered in Salt Lake City, with operations and offices in Moab and Fredonia, AZ. The company is the largest single tour provider in Moab, Utah. The Moab Adventure Center is located at 225 South Main St., Moab, UT 84532. For information and reservations please visit https://www.moabadventurecenter.com/ or call (435) 259-7019 or (866) 904-1163. The center also has a 2,000-square-foot retail space selling adventure related gear, clothing, maps and souvenirs.
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