MOAB UTAH :: ADVENTURE CAPITOL OF THE WEST
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 says, “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 over half a century.