A Jet Boat Runs Through It

A Jet Boat Runs Through It

By Chad Taylor & Jake Wilhelmsen
November 16, 2017

Floating is relaxing. Fishing is therapeutic. Zipping up and down the Colorado River on a guided jet boat tour? Downright exhilarating.

The Colorado River has been hard at work for six million years, carving through some of planet earth’s most impressive geology. The Grand Canyon might be its best-known creation, but the 2,200-foot canyon walls in Moab are masterpieces too — especially when seen from the river — and they’re a lot less crowded. Taking in Moab’s canyons by raft will cost you a few days (well worth the time, btw) but you can get an eyeful in just a couple of hours by jet boat.

Canyonlands by Night & Day has been running these tours since 1963. What have they changed since then? Newer boats, fewer guides in polyester leisure suits, and that’s about it. Same ownership, same hospitality and and the same wizard-level river wisdom. Probably even a few of the same jokes floating around among the groovy river guides. They offer many different tours, but here are our three favorites:

Daytime Tour

A perfect way to beat the heat in Moab’s summer. You can choose between a 3-hour “fun run” tour or a 1-hour “express” tour. As you glide through the canyons just south of Moab, your guide will point out Native American petroglyphs and a granary. On the 3-hour tour, you’ll even get a glimpse of Dead Horse Point State Park and Thelma and Louise point, where the most famous scene from the acclaimed film was shot. (Spoiler alert!)

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Sound & Light Show Tour

Who doesn’t like dinner and a show? Especially when the dinner is a cowboy-style Dutch oven meal and the show is full of fun stories, historical references and a backdrop even CGI couldn’t top. Learn about the early settlers of this area, as well as the formation of the canyon. After a day of hiking/biking Moab’s trails, this is the perfect way to relax.

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Sunset Jet Boat Tour

The crown jewel of jet boat tours. People come from all over the world to photograph Moab, especially the iconic rock formations during the golden hours around sunrise and sunset. Canyonlands by Night knows when to go where to experience a one-of-a-kind sunset. The picturesque tour is followed by a delicious dinner with a quintessential American West menu: BBQ beef, BBQ pork, BBQ chicken, roast beef, roast pork, cowpoke potatoes (cut potatoes with spring vegetables and cheese melted through), sweet baked beans, corn, homemade rolls (regular and garlic), a full salad bar (includes a green salad with all the toppings, a pasta salad and coleslaw), and Dutch oven dessert.

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Canyonlands by Night also offers a number of other activities, including:

Hummer tours

Horseback riding

Stand up paddleboarding

Whitewater rafting