People Profiles: Gateway to Canyonlands
“Find a place you like and figure out how to live there.” Warren Gordon “Tex” McClatchy arrived in Moab in the booming 1950s to teach in its overcrowded schools, but he soon left the classroom for a life earning a living on the Colorado River. A legend among Colorado River outfitters and acknowledged as one of the fathers of Moab’s recreation industry, McClatchy introduced large jet boat and canoe trips to the confluence of the Green and Colorado rivers. Founded in 1958, Tex’s Riverways continues teaching adventurers how to enjoy and protect southeastern Utah’s pristine environment.
“The war gave us Jeeps, uranium prospecting gave us roads.” After flying 89 combat missions in the Pacific during World War II, the son of Moab’s first doctor returned home to carve out a living and raise his family. Working multiple jobs sustained the Williams for a while, but Mitch’s love of the desert and memories of his childhood adventures on the river fueled an interest in sharing them with the traveling public. Soon Tag-A-Long Tours was a thriving business, entertaining tourists from all over the world in Jeeps and on rafts on the Colorado, helping to transform the tourism business into the expedition business.
Father of Canyonlands
Bates Wilson arrived in Moab in 1949 to begin his career as National Park Service Superintendent of Arches and Natural Bridges National Monuments. Driving between the two parks, Wilson spent countless hours exploring and mapping the geology of what he called “the land in between.” Through “Dutch oven diplomacy” Wilson initiated politicians, filmmakers, reporters, congressmen, scientists, and Park Service officials into the wonders of what would become Canyonlands National Park. The Park was established in 1964, fulfilling Wilson’s vision of preserving 250,000 acres of spectacular landscape, and adding momentum to the growing tourism industry.