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 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
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
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 www.canyonlandsbynight.com.
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.