Many people head for Utah’s mountains in the hot and dry summer months. But while it may be the hottest region in the Beehive State, Southern Utah also offers some of the hottest deals on water. There’s even a tour that goes out after the desert sun sets, when the temperatures are just right. And given that they run into the fall months, you can cruise on the Colorado or ride across Wahweap Bay anytime, no sweat at all.
Canyonlands by Night & Day
It’s hard to imagine stadium seating on a boat, but Canyonlands by Night & Day Tours has it.
For 46 years, passengers have been boarding the long, flat bottomed Moab Queen II for a slow moving, evening ride on the Colorado River. But the trip provides far more than a guide pointing out scenery. Once it’s dark, light illuminates the canyon walls. Then, 144 passengers see a show choreographed with music and narration about the history of the area through cowboy and American Indian tales. But don’t expect a theme park experience; there are no splashes and water effects. Rather what you see is only limited by your imagination.
“There are many laser shows but few light shows in the world. When you go to [a show like] the Pyramids in Egypt, you just sit in a stadium and watch the lights move, and they have a recorded program but the audience doesn’t move,” explains Preston Paxman, manager of Canyonlands by Night & Day Tours. “But we board the boat and there’s a guide that will show you sights and get your imagination going. And then when we get four miles up river, it’s totally dark. At that point we turn on 40,000 watts of light and head back down the river.” A truck carrying a generator on a nearby highway moves with them, creating the illusion of life on the walls with the light and shadows. “It’s all timed—the boat has to be at a certain place at just the right time and the equipment on the highway has to be at the right place at the right time.”
The tour features moments such as moonlight rising on the high cliffs, and stargazing in the dark to the strains of patriotic music. “If you don’t get goose bumps from it, you’re not alive,” says Paxman.
Tours begin in March, continue through October and include an indoor Dutch oven dinner on the banks of the Colorado River before sunset. There are a myriad of specials and discounts, but a family of four, two adults and two children, can have the dinner and boat ride for under $200. Canyonlandsbynight.com has reservation information.
“It’s not a Disneyland ride, Indians and pioneers don’t come out—it’s all imagination. You have to create it,” says Paxman.
Lake Powell Resorts and Marinas
Bed and Breakfast Inns have long been a popular getaway option. Now, for the first time this summer, Lake Powell Resorts and Marinas is adding a boat ride to the experience with a Bed, Boat and Breakfast package.
“If you only have a couple of days [at Lake Powell], it’s the best thing to do,” says Steve Ward, public relations representative at Lake Powell Resorts, “You can go out on the lake for a couple of hours and see what that’s like and then enjoy the amenities of the resort.”
The resort includes a 46-year-old lodge (formerly known as Wahweap Lodge), which went through a $1 million renovation the beginning of this year, and sits right on the edge of Wahweap Marina. “The lobby and gift shop have been expanded and it’s beautiful,” says Ward, adding that those rooms have been completely transformed.
The $191 package includes a night’s lodging in a room that looks out over Wahweap Bay, and breakfast in the lodge’s Rainbow Room, a round dining room with a panoramic view of the bay. Lakepowell.com provides photos.
Rounding out the visit includes a narrated cruise on a U.S. Coast Guard certified passenger vessel, and people can sit inside or out on the boat. For the one night package, passengers take a two hour, 25-mile long ride to Antelope Canyon, but if you have the time, Ward says you can upgrade the package and take a 5 hour, 100 mile ride to Rainbow Bridge National Monument, and the largest natural bridge in the world. “In 2010, it will be the centennial of the bridge becoming a national monument,” says Ward. “Many people have heard about it, but it’s very difficult to get to. It’s a 13 mile hike or a boat ride.”