San Juan Rafting
Trip Length: 3 and 4 days
By the late 1870's, the Mormons had colonized virtually every corner of Utah before pushing the boundaries of "Zion" southeast to the isolated canyons of the San Juan River. It was on the San Juan that Norman Nevills, a pioneer of commercial river running, began his first river trip with a new bride and a boat built from outhouse planks.
This country is a mecca for the lover of slickrock, precious Indian cultural sites, and warm-water rapids. Your guide can lead you through side canyons to polished limestone swimming pools, or to the canyon rim for an endless vista of Monument Valley, the landscape synonymous with the "John Wayne Western".
Flowing faster than any other river we run, the San Juan has scores of small rapids. In addition, sand waves caused by shifting sands on the river bottom add several spontaneous roller-coaster rides to the 83-mile trip. For those who like a lot of action, we bring inflatable kayaks which shift the San Juan's modest rapids upscale to high adventure.
Ages: 5 years and up
|San Juan River||3-Days||4-Days|
|Children ages 5-18||$635.00*||$715.00*|
*On 3-day San Juan River trips there is a Bureau of Land Management Special Area Fee of $10 per person. On 4-day San Juan trips there is a Bureau of Land Management Special Area Fee of $20 per person.
All river equipment including waterproof bags for your personal belongings. Full course meals from lunch the first day to lunch the last day. Transportation from the meeting point to trip, and return to original meeting point. All National Park, B.L.M., and Forest Service fees. Please see our packing list for what to bring and what not to bring on this trip.
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GLEN CANYON NAT'L RECREATION AREA
SAN JUAN RIVER RAFTING, 3 OR 4 DAYS
The first time I went down the San Juan was with a group of boatmen. It was hard to read the map because the scenery was so amazing . . . the water was moving so fast. It made us dizzy because our heads were busy snapping from one side of the river to the other to see the next scenic attraction.
Dee Holladay, Holiday River's 1975 Reconnaissance Trip
Pound for pound, the San Juan River is the fastest moving river in the United States, dropping an average of eight feet per mile. Sandstone and limestone walls frame the narrow canyon as the river snakes through the countless goosenecks for which it is famous. Today the river borders Navajoland, although it was once the home of the ancient pueblo civilization. Scores of ruins and petroglyphs line the canyon walls.
The San Juan, with a lot of small rapids, is especially known for sand waves which appear to rise from nowhere due to shifting sand on the bottom of this fast moving stream. These make for a particularly thrilling ride in an inflatable kayak.
It was on the San Juan that commercial river running began in 1938 when Norman Nevils began operating trips from Mexican Hat through the Grand Canyon.
One of the advantages of a river trip is the flexibility of the daily itinerary. It can vary widely from one trip to the next based on group desires, Mother Nature, and courtesy for other groups on the river. This typical itinerary illustrates a four-day trip on the San Juan River. We also offer a three-day trip on the San Juan that follows Day 2 through Day 4 of the four-day itinerary below.
Day 1: Meet group in Blanding, Utah then we're off on a 30-minute scenic ride to the put-in point - Sand Island. Float down to lunch near River House Ruin, one of the best preserved ancient pueblo dwellings in the Southwest. Camp near Comb Ridge, the 600-foot edge to the enormous Monument Upwarp.
Day 2: Pass through the village of Mexican Hat before traversing the famed Goosenecks of the San Juan. Take an optional hike to the 1894 prospector cabin of Walter Mendenhall. Enjoy frequent sightings of Great Blue Heron that seem to lead the way into the labyrinth. Camp in the heart of the Goosenecks.
Day 3: This morning we can hike the Honaker Trail, all that remains of the "1892 gold rush". The reward for those who put forth this 1200-foot vertical effort is an unforgettable view of Monument Valley. A good day to stop at a pristine beach and check out 300 million year old fossils, remnants from another eon. Government Rapid and a "siesta" at Slickhorn Gulch highlights this day. Slickhorn Gulch is one of the premier side canyons along the Colorado System with fern grottos and swimming pools.
Day 4: Fast water drops you into Lake Powell after passing Grand Gulch Primitive Area; then we continue across the lake to the take out at Clay Hills Crossing. You will transfer to a two-hour scenic van ride back to Blanding, Utah.
San Juan weather: In May, June and July the daytime temperatures are 80 to 100 degrees, with nighttime temperatures 50 to 75 degrees. This is the time of year that swimming in the river becomes a popular activity. This seems warm but remember the humidity is very low. There will be an abundance of sun, so bring a hat and plenty of suntan lotion and/or sunscreens.
Bugs, snakes, etc. are generally no problem. In fact, the lack of pesky insects is one of the reasons wilderness camping on the river is so pleasant. Any river trip, however, is subject to an occasional localized insect hatch. During these hatches (most common in June) mosquitos can be bothersome. Be sure to bring long sleeve clothing and repellent. Insect repellents that contain "deet" are by far the most effective during heavy hatches, but are also suspected of causing various health problems. Citronella-based products (skin-so-soft) work only in light hatches. We rarely see any snakes, but if the thought of them bothers you, try sleeping on the beaches or in a tent instead of rocky or bushy areas.
Hiking is a highlight of the trip, however, it is strictly an optional activity. There are many interesting short hikes available. Hiking can be done in durable sneakers or lightweight hiking boots. Remember that hiking and other activities vary widely pending time, and what other plans are ahead for the day on the river.
Medical emergencies: Our guides are trained in first aid and carry first aid supplies only. REMEMBER to bring your own prescription medicines. ALERT our guides to any medical problem you might have such as diabetes or allergic reactions. Wilderness expeditions are a long way from hospitals, doctors, and pain-relieving medicines. Evacuations to modern medical care are uncertain, and protracted. In case of evacuation and/or medical treatment beyond first aid, expenses incurred are the responsibility of the participant.
Beverages: We provide ice water, lemonade, two sodas per day per person and ample cooler space. If you choose to bring any specialty sodas and/or alcoholic beverages, we have no problem taking whatever you want to bring - within reason. Don't bring beer, wine coolers or sodas in glass containers. Wine packaged in a box is ideal. Mark beverages that you bring so they are packed on your boat. In Utah, wine or liquor is not sold after 7:00 p.m., before 11:00 a.m. or on sundays and holidays. Alcoholic beverages are not available in Blanding, so will need to be purchased prior to your arrival. There is no liquor, wine, beer, or wine coolers sold or served in Blanding, Utah
The BOC store has what you need for this trip and can ship your order out quickly.
We meet for your trip in Blanding, Utah. If you are driving, your car can be left at the Comfort Inn in Blanding. Departure time is 7:00 a.m. (Mountain Time), and so it is important that you attend our pre-trip orientation the night before your trip.
If you are flying, you can fly to Salt Lake City located 310 miles northwest of Blanding, Utah. From there you can rent a car, take a shuttle with Bighorn Express (888-655-7433), ride a bus, or fly in a light aircraft to Blanding, Utah. If you need assistance with your travel arrangements, please ask your Holiday Expedition reservation agent.
When you arrive in Blanding the day before your trip, there will be a pre-trip orientation meeting at 8:00 p.m. (Mountain Time) in the Super 8. Your trip leader and other members of the crew will give you a short orientation on all aspects of river travel. At this time we will issue your waterproof bags and answer any questions you may have.
In the upper right hand corner of this page, you can enter your location or a point that you know of and hit enter and google maps will open and show you a map to the meeting location and driving time.
Beginning of the trip: On the morning of your trip, plan to arrive promptly at 7:00 a.m. (Mountain Time) at the Super 8. We will then take a 30-minute van ride to Sand Island (4-day) or a one-hour van ride to Mexican Hat (3-day), where we will transfer to the boats and start the trip.
After the trip: We will disembark at Clay Hills Crossing where you will travel by van back to Blanding, Utah. Our expected time of arrival back at the Super 8 is 4:00 to 5:00 p.m.
IF YOU HAVE ANY QUESTIONS THE NIGHT BEFORE THE TRIP, OUR GREEN RIVER HEADQUARTERS NUMBER IS: 435-564-3273 (OR) LEAVE A MESSAGE AT THE COMFORT INN'S FRONT DESK.
If cancellations are made prior to 90 days before the trip, monies will be refunded less a $50.00 service charge per person. If cancellations are made within 90 days and outside of 45 days of the trip date monies will be refunded less a $100.00 service charge per person. Cancellations made within 45 days of the trip date are non-refundable. Prior to 45 days to trip date we will transfer reservations to another trip in the same year with a $25.00 per person service charge.
All policies will be enforced and we strongly recommend trip cancellation insurance. Ask us about a brochure with applications. Cancellation of a trip is very unlikely. But, we reserve the right to cancel any trip due to river or weather conditions or the lack of sufficient reservations. A full refund will be made if such is the case.
Insurance: Medical and cancellation insurance on a vacation plan can be obtained from numerous insurance companies. We offer plans underwritten by TRAVEL GUARD that cover accident, baggage and cancellation claims. An application should be enclosed with this information package. We encourage all to take advantage of this coverage. This is available to American and Canadian citizens as well as citizens of another country as long as you have a U.S. address. If you have questions give us a call. Also, if you are bringing expensive cameras, binoculars, or other items we suggest you have insurance coverage for them (commonly available through Homeowners Policies). In the event of a loss our insurance will not cover those items.