The couple then saved for a raft trip that featured overnight camping and music, sometimes on the shore and at times while the rafts were floating down the Colorado.
The variety of experiences have made the Moab Music Festival a staple on the itineraries of many musical enthusiasts. Its popularity makes planning ahead important, since some of the more popular concerts sell out.
The festival features multinight Colorado River trips before and after the main event, concerts inside a beautiful redrock grotto where workers float a grand piano down the river and haul it into the location, and music hikes that require a trek to places divulged only to those who have signed up.
There are also free park concerts, benefits at local ranches and homes and less expensive performances at Moab's historic Star Hall.
This was the vision of New York-based musician Michael Barrett, who was looking for a place to stage a Western music festival with his wife, Leslie Tomkins.
They initially looked at Logan, where Barrett's parents were living. But a 1991 trip through Moab to Santa Fe changed all that.
"We had a big experience in a short time," he said. "We decided we had to come back. We went to Arches National Park, sat under an arch and saw a double rainbow. We said, 'Why don't we make the music festival here?' "
In those days, Moab was relatively quiet. You could buy a nice house for $40,000. Barrett and Tomkins were hooked.
"Once you come here, you come back," he said.
The couple purchased a home. Barrett became music director and set about starting the festival.
Every concert hall has a different sound.
"The acoustics are pure," said Barrett about playing in some of the outdoor venues. "The sound travels in some kind of unhampered, undisturbed ways."
He said that in traditional city concert halls, there is white noise such as air conditioners or city sounds. Those largely disappear in the wilderness. There is just silence.