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Utah River and Wilderness Expeditions since 1964... come Tag-A-Long with us!

Spotlight: Sarah Sidwell

Guide of the month Sarah Sidwell has been with Tag-A-Long Expeditions for 9 years. Sarah was raised in Moab for most of her youth. She left Moab after graduating and returned, years later as a mother of 2 children. At that time she joined Tag-A-Long Expeditions as a “Daily Raft Guide”. She was following her dream of working outdoors. Within 3 years she earned the position of “Lead Cataract Canyon Guide” and was responsible for all of the Cataract Canyon River Guides. A typical Cataract Canyon trip is 4 days in duration and travels through 100 miles of wilderness. Cataract Canyon is home to some of the largest whitewater in the United States.

Four years ago, Sarah moved from the river into our office with the position of Sales Director. She now travels around the country and Europe talking about our trips. That doesn’t mean she is entirely off the river, however. Besides enjoying private trips, Sarah still is called upon to lead some of our more complex Cataract Canyon trips such as the Moab Music Festival’s Musical Raft Trip through Cataract Canyon. That trip that takes 4 to 5 classical music artists that performs concerts nightly for a group of Music Fest patrons, each in a different location on the Colorado River. We serve dinner in a style befitting a fine restaurant and there are many unique demands on the Tag-A-Long 6 person crew and guides. As a sideline, Sarah has taken charge of our “Tag-A-Garden”.   This is a large garden space on our property where we raise fresh herbs and vegetables that are used on our trips.

In her current position, Sarah maintains our website, sales force, and drives our marketing program.   You will see her name on many of our promotional messages. She is also active in the community holding seats on the Boards of the local Chamber of Commerce and Travel Council and volunteering her free time to various non-profits. Sarah is an example that every person on our staff is in tune to the environment and what it represents to our visitors.

Spring Runoff Wishlist

The snow-pack at the headwaters of both the Colorado and Green rivers looks pretty great right now at over 100% of normal. But whether or not we get epic high water the end of May/beginning of June will depend on a few different factors. Here is our spring wishlist for a great rafting season.

  • First, Colorado and Wyoming have to stay cold! Just for a little bit longer… just to keep all that snow where it is at right now.

  • Second, no wind! Here in Moab we have a lot of red sand. And in the spring the wind likes to blow hard toward the east. This causes our red sand to blow over the snow in the Rockies and the red on top of the white absorbs the sun and heats up the snow causing it to melt sooner than it should.

  • Third, if we could get a little mid-spring snow, that would be the greatest way to start the season! Perhaps the end of April or beginning of May?

  • Last, it needs to warm up slowly.

In 2011 we had high water that started the end of May and lasted until about the second week in July. All of the above factors played a part in that long high water season and it was fabulous! Here is a video of what happened in 2011 in Cataract Canyon.

Are you planning on playing on the Green or Colorado Rivers this year? Do you think about water levels? Or are you just looking for some time on the water? Let us know in the comments below!

Press Release: Tag-A-Long Expeditions Celebrates 50 Years Guiding Trips into Canyonlands and Arches National Parks

For Immediate Release
Contact: Sarah Sidwell, 435-259-8946

Tag-A-Long Expeditions Celebrates 50 Years Guiding Trips into Canyonlands and Arches National Parks

Moab, Utah – 2014 marks the 50th Anniversary of the oldest outfitter in Moab; Tag-A-Long Expeditions. To celebrate, Tag-A-Long will be hosting an Open House at 452 N Main St., Moab on Friday, April 4th, starting at 9:30am. The Moab Chamber of Commerce will be on-site for a Ribbon Cutting Ceremony. There will be food and prizes.

History of Tag-A-Long Expeditions:

Tag-A-Long’s founder, Mitch Williams, was instrumental in the creation of Canyonlands National Park. Mitch and his wife Mary, decided to start a 4×4 tour business in the canyons that surround Moab, Utah. At first, Mitch and Mary offered guided tours for travelers to drive their own 4x4s to “tag-a-long” as they went exploring. In the spring of 1964 they took a group from Washington, D.C. deep into the backcountry. In September of that year, while on a separate trip to the same area, a plane flew overhead and dropped a note to him saying they were now camping in the nation’s newest National Park, Canyonlands. Incidentally, Mitch’s father, who was the first doctor in Moab, is considered by many to be the “Father of Arches National Park”.

Soon after this they were looking at offering river trips as well. In fact, Tag-A-Long Tours was the first company to run the scenic stretch on the Colorado River just upstream from Moab on a daily basis. That section, which we now call the Scenic Splash, is still lovingly referred to as the ‘daily’ by the locals.

Bob Jones and Paul Niskanen took over the company in 1982. Both of them came from the tourism industry and felt it was important to learn everything they could about this new venture. They not only managed the operations of the company, but made sure to learn all the tours so they could guide them as well. When Bob and Paul came aboard, our early rafting trips seemed more focused on the guide’s personal enjoyment of challenging the rapids of the Colorado. Instead of just surviving a whitewater journey, Bob and Paul introduced a new orientation towards guest satisfaction.

“We were the first in this area to carry sleeping pads that helped our guests sleep better.” Mr. Jones said, “While other outfitters used a primitive toilet seat over a bucket, we developed “civilized” wilderness toilet systems complete with privacy tents. We introduced tables and chairs for dining along with more environmentally-friendly motors. We placed new emphasis on food preparation, on guide’s sharing their knowledge about the region, and beginning the day early enough to visit fascinating side canyons that were previously bypassed.”

This new style of trips was well received by the many European visitors. Soon, European media came as well. They joined the trips to film documentaries for German television and wrote articles for France’s leading newspapers and magazines. Over the years, with this publicity, Tag-A-Long Expeditions and Moab, Utah became known worldwide as adventure capitals.

It is this vision and innovation that has allowed Tag-A-Long to thrive for half a decade. Please join us on April 4th to celebrate!

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Spotlight: Bill Foote

Guide supreme and a lot more:

 Bill Foote has lived in Moab (actually in nearby Castle Valley) for 10 years. In that short period of time, Bill has visited and studied more backcountry locations in the Canyonlands region than most of the old timers who have lived their entire lives in Moab.

Long ago Bill made a life decision to become a valuable asset to our guiding community.  Over the years he has become an overachiever with respect to that goal. At Tag-A-Long Expeditions, Bill supervises and trains our staff of land guides. Along with 4×4 driving skills, Bill emphasizes in-depth knowledge of the territory we cover as well as the skills to communicate that information to our guests.

All of this may seem unusual for a person from upstate New York, but we have discovered that easterners that move west REALLY embrace this area. Bill’s amazing knowledge and his ability to communicate that information enhances the experience of our guests that surpasses their expectations. He also is an avid photographer, sign painter, and general handyman. Whenever professional photographers come to host workshops in the backcountry, Bill has been our lead guide. Bill conducts about 4 day trips a week (we have a working/supervisor management arrangement). You may have Bill assigned as your guide, or you may request to travel with Bill when you make your reservations.

Spring in Moab

Claret Cup in full bloom

There is nothing quite like spring in the Moab desert.

As the days start to lengthen and the sun shifts in the sky,  we begin to see a beautiful orange glow on the cliffs surrounding Moab in each morning and evening. This fiery light signals all of us that it’s time to plant our gardens, open our shops, and get ready for all the visitors who will soon arrive.

Springtime temperatures here are warmer than than the surrounding cities of Denver or Salt Lake yet cooler than in our summer months. It’s the perfect time of year for great hikes into the canyonlands, mountain biking, and canoeing. Wildflowers will soon explode into a riot of color all over Canyonlands and Arches National Parks.  Look for the bright oranges of the Globe Mallow, the yellows of the Mules Ear and Prickly Pear, the soft white of the Sego Lily and Yucca, and the deep reds of the Claret Cup and Indian Paintbrush.  These colors contrast nicely with the rich ocher of the canyon walls and cerulean blue sky.

It is a magical time to visit!

The best Tag-A-Long trips to take in the spring are:

 

Hike into the Fiery Furnace of Arches National Park.  It’s a maze of arches, twisting canyons and rock monuments.  Don’t forget your camera.

 

Mountain Biking the White Rim Trail in Canyonlands National Park.  At the end of your trip, we pick you up by jet boat for an easy return to Moab.