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Business Happenings - September 2003

Tag-A-Long Expeditions

Celebrating 40 Years of Business
in 2004

by Michelle Hill

Tag-A-Long Expeditions
452 North Main Street

Tag-A-Long Expeditions was founded in 1964 when Canyonlands National Park was set aside by the Department of the Interior. Our founder was Mitch Williams. He was the son of the first doctor in Moab. Doc Williams was an instrumental citizen in promoting Arches National Monument’s change to a National Park. Mitch understood the power of tourism with land dedications to National and State Parks. Mitch waged that visitors would require guidance to penetrate the intricacies of Canyonlands National Park, so folks could “tag-a-long” with this local to see the sites.

Bob Jones owned a motorcoach company in Oregon. At that time Europe communicated business through the telex and the motorcoach company accepted telex reservations for Tag-A-Long Tours. Tag-A-Long Tours was doing an astounding business with Europe and the motorcaoch company owner took an interest in Tag-A-Long. When Mitch and Mary Williams retired, Bob Jones took ownership.

Presently, Tag-A-Long Expeditions provides guided jetboat, 4x4 and raft tours, as well as services for folks who have an aptitude to do-it-yourself. There are jetboat shuttles for self-guided canoe and mountain bike trips and an assortment of rentals to support these endeavors.

Tag-A-Long Expeditions premier day tour combines a jetboat and 4x4 tour as only Tag-A-Long can provide. Because Tag-A-Long is an early Moab outfitter, a particular park permit was secured to enable our jetboat to enter Canyonlands National Park to get deeper into Canyonlands than any other outfitter providing this combination. Other tours are forced to turn around at the park boundary and double back. Tag-A-Long Expeditions rendezvous with a 4x4 in the park to eat lunch in the shade of the Tamarisk trees at picnic tables. If you arrive at lunch by 4x4 you return to town by jetboat and vice versa. Park entrance fee is not included with this tour, yet many visitors are traveling with National Park , Golden Eagle or Golden Age passes and may use these for the immediate family of the card holder. Otherwise expect to pay $5 per person.

Tag-A-Long Expeditions premier multiple day trip is a motorized raft trip into Canyonlands National Park through Cataract Canyon concluding on Lake Powell.

Cataract Canyon features the Colorado River and 27 Grand Canyon – style rapids.

During the spring run-off - the last two weeks of May and first two weeks of June - the river is potentially at the height of glory for thrill seekers. Later months, the water is warmer and perfect for families with younger children. Pristine beaches are our camps in the fall after the water has subsided and the sandbars have dried out.
Tag-A-Long sets aside six days to row this hundred mile river stretch and can shorten it with the motorized j-rig to three or four days. The j-rig is the typical boat configuration for motoring this length of trip in Cataract Canyon. The 2 ½ bridge pontoon was developed in the Tag-A-Long boat yard in the 1970s. This type of craft has proven over the years to be the most comfortable for guests enjoying the shorter Cataract itinerary.

The Tag-A-Long j-rig raft has a community ice chest that guests access at their choosing, A canopy is erected for the 49 mile flatwater stretch of river extending from Moab to the Confluence of the Colorado River with the Green River. Guests may rotate into the sun for tanning or take in the breeze in the shade. The ice water decanter is an easy reach for refreshment if guests chose not to bring additional beverages.

In camp, tables and chairs are standard for the breakfast and dinner meals. Guests need not sit on the dirt and balance a plate on the knee. Instead, guests luxuriate over the meals. The menus were put together by a joint effort of a five star Aspen, Colorado chef and award winning whole foods author.

The rapids have to be experienced to be appreciated. Guides indulge guests with stories of previous river runners and the hardships encountered in the exploratory days from 1869 to 1940s. Guide familiarity now minimizes those things that have happened and could happen on a river trip. A fairly universal orientation is given on whitewater to educate participants on how to react to particular whitewater features, minimizing panic which can be the culprit for disarray.

The guide really makes the trip. Besides being humorous and knowledgeable, a guide must be a leader to anticipate, prevent, organize, advise and entertain. Tag-A-Long Expeditions holds a monthly meeting whereby guides take turns presenting topics to other staff to maintain continuing education of the region. It is part of the Tag-A-Long trust to expound on a wide range of topics of interest to the visitor of Canyonlands National Park.

Visitors should stop by our office (nearly a historic landmark) at 452 North Main Street and see why Tag-A-Long Expeditions has been in business this long. We may be reached at 435-259-8946 or

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