A group of six people are pictured on an old tour boat. Three of them are playing guitars. Tex McClatchy, identifiable because of his beard, wears a captains hat as he leans over the side of the boat.
Tex McClatchy aboard the Canyon King paddlewheel tour boat, which he had built and operated for a couple of years out of Moab. Credit: Moab Museum Collection

A legend among Colorado River outfitters and one of the fathers of Moab’s recreation industry, Warren Gordon “Tex” McClatchy (1927-2006) left a tangible impact on the Moab community. McClatchy arrived in Moab during the uranium boom in the 1950s to teach in the schools, but he soon left the classroom for a life earning a living on the Colorado River. 

“Back in the uranium days, it was just that: uranium. Then as time got on, tourists started feeding in and finding out what this area was all about,” Tex recalled in a 1999 interview with Jim Page, published in the Moab Museum’s publication Canyon Legacy. “Of course, the magic around here that made [tourism] grow was the variety!”

Tex McClatchy is on a boat rowing; he is wearing an old beat up hat and flannel, and sporting an impressive white and gray beard.
Tex McClatchy in his element: on a boat in the river. Credit: Moab Museum Collection

McClatchy himself was instrumental in making this variety of options accessible to visiting tourists. He ran the rivers with a variety of watercraft, introducing popular jet boat and canoe trips to the confluence of the Green and Colorado rivers. Tex’s Riverways, formally founded in 1958, continues teaching adventurers how to enjoy and protect southeastern Utah’s pristine environment.

McClatchy’s lifetime and career spanned a time of remarkable change in the Moab community; he witnessed the uranium boom and bust and had a hand in shaping the tourism boom that eventually grew up after.

The Moab Museum is dedicated to sharing stories of the natural and human history of the Moab area. To explore more of Moab’s stories and artifacts, find out about upcoming programs, and become a Member, visit www.moabmuseum.org.