Here's the irony in a visit to Moab, in Grand County: The place offers so much that you leave wanting more.
Beyond river trips. Aside from the beauty of Canyonlands, Arches, Dead Horse Point. Discounting all the well-known recreation spots, Moab still presents the visitor with a bewildering array of pastimes.You could spend several days horseback riding, or golfing, birdwatching, mountain biking or jeep touring. Or you could take only a morning for one of these pursuits - leaving your afternoon free to look at petroglyphs, watch archaeologists uncover a pit dwelling, tour museums, take a jet boat ride, hike with a llama, drive to geologic or movie-making sites, take a scenic flight over Canyonlands, or go cross-country skiing.
Recently the Grand Country Travel Council invited photographers and writers on a four-day press tour to demonstrate the latest fun available to visitors.
From the start, Moab was arrayed before us.
We dined, the first night, on a bluff overlooking the town. At the windows of Mi Vida, Charlie Steen's uranium-boom-mansion-turned-restaurant, we ate and saw the sun flame down.
Our hosts talked tourism and urban planning. We watched the darkness slowly moving over red cliffs and pale green orchards, enveloping a small town of quiet neighborhoods, trailer courts and tourist inns with names like "The Atomic Motel."
We were already beginning to appreciate the variety that is Moab. The variety of beautiful sights, of things to do - and the variety of people who live in the town and have a vision of its future.
Over the course of our stay we met dozens of people and heard them dream out loud. Can tourism work year round? Can it bring back the prosperity of the uranium boom? Will it be good for everyone, or just for developers who come from somewhere else?
Already tourism is up. Arches National Park had 31 percent more visitors this March than in 1988. Already the town and its surrounding rocks, rivers and mountains have attracted new residents. Some, like Judy Nichols, who came to start a bike touring business, were drawn by more than just the physical beauty of the land.
"There's a beauty about the people, too," she says. "Moab is a downhome, funky town, full of ranchers, red-necks and river guides. No one agrees on anything, but everyone can talk to each other."
They've watched the mining industry fly then falter; the people of Moab welcome, now, economic diversity. No matter why you come to Moab, if you respect the land, you'll find the townspeople welcome you. And no matter what you do on your Moab visit, you'll leave, as we did, wishing you could have stayed one more day.