As you journey down the San Juan River, you will enter a world of dramatic red rock textured by time into alcove, cliff, and canyon. The journey begins at Sand Island, where you will load the boats and set sail for the next 3 to 6 days on an outdoor adventure through a geologic wonderland, covering 27 miles or 83 miles depending on the length of the trip you choose. This fast flowing river has scores of small rapids perfect for inflatable kayaking. The river’s water is great for swimming and most outfitters offer inflatable kayaks for some hands on experience. From hikes through side canyons, to desert oasis swimming pools, to endless views of Monument Valley, adventure awaits at every stop.
A flexible, open attitude is a necessity. You will be immersed in the varying elements of nature. There is no set daily itinerary, electricity, or indoor plumbing. There is plenty of adventure, camaraderie, good food, and beautiful Monument Valley scenery.
We’ve been connecting our clients to water adventures around the world since 1987. We partner with select outfitters who share our values and are pros at creating exceptional experiences. There is no fee for our service; we earn our commission from the outfitters we represent, and the cost of your expedition is the same as booking direct.
Trips begin in Bluff, UT or Blanding, UT, depending on the trip and outfitter selected. The outfitter provides transportation to the put-in point from your starting city. The San Juan offers a variety of trip options including:
4-6 Day Trips – offer a full San Juan experience covering 84 miles of river from Bluff to Clay Hills Crossing on Lake Powell.
4-5 Day Trips – cover the lower 56 river miles from Mexican Hat to Clay Hills Crossing on Lake Powell.
3-5 Day Trips – cover the upper 27 miles of the river from Bluff to Mexican Hat.
All trips end with transportation back to your starting city provided by the outfitter.
Most outfitters will provide all the camping and river related safety equipment, along with plenty of fresh food, non-alcoholic beverages and snacks. However there are some outfitters that will ask you to supply your own camping and sleep gear. Typically these outfitters will also have an option to rent a camp/sleep kit for an additional cost. Transportation to the put-in point and take-out point from/to your start city is included.
March and April are the coolest months of the San Juan season, with highs between 61°F – 71°F and lows between 31°F – 38°F, requiring extra layers throughout the day and night. May has slightly warmer temperatures, with highs averaging 79°F and lows around 45°F, which still may require extra layers. June through August is the warmest time to raft this area of Utah with highs around 92°F and lows around 55°F. As the rafting season winds down in September, you can expect warm days and cooler nights, with highs averaging 85°F and lows averaging 49°F.
The San Juan River is a calm, congenial tributary to the Colorado River, combining relaxing floats livened up by fun and easy Class II rapids. There is also the possibility of sand waves, which can appear suddenly when the water’s quick flow moves against the silted river bottom, adding an exciting and unexpected surprise. Sandstone and limestone walls frame the narrow canyon as the river snakes through the countless gooseneck bends for which it is famous. The river is usually a cool 45°F – 55°F, which offers the perfect relief on warm summer days.
Your main form of transport will be an oar raft, but paddleboats and inflatable kayaks are also available for those who wish for a more interactive experience. Oar powered rafts are about 18 feet long and carry four to five guests plus the guide, who maneuvers the raft with a set of oars mounted on the raft. Normally three to five boats travel together and group sizes can range from 10 up to 25 guests, maximum. Paddleboats are 18 feet long inflatable rubber rafts. They carry six to eight people, and each person is responsible for paddling as a guide calls out the paddling commands. Paddleboats are a team effort boat and offer riders an intimate encounter with the river. When water levels are suitable, two-person kayaks let you challenge the rapids on your own terms.
Whether you’re an experienced camper or it’s your first time under the stars, our outfitters are specialists in facilitating an enjoyable and relaxing camping experience. Most outfitters provide a full sleep kit with a tent, sleeping bag, and inflated sleeping pad. Some outfitters will request that you bring your own sleep kit and camp equipment, or will have a package that you can rent for an additional cost. Everyone participates in setting up and breaking down camp. A clean, private camp toilet is set up first thing upon arrival at camp and it is the last thing to be dismantled the next morning.
One thing is certain on a San Juan rafting trip: There will be plenty of food! A full, hearty breakfast with cowboy coffee gets the day going. A riverside picnic sets the scene for lunch where you create your own sandwich. Dinners can be anything from a New York steak, grilled filet of salmon, or a Mexican feast followed by a hot, Dutch oven dessert. There are plenty of snacks and beverages offered throughout the day. Alcoholic beverages are not included, but you are welcome to bring your own. With advance notice, all outfitters are able to accommodate for special dietary requirements.
I cannot tell you how impressed I was with the Rivers & Oceans’ staff, their organizational skills, knowledge and simply being just nice people. Once I decided to go with them every detail of the adventure was planned, organized and implemented without a hitch.
Absolutely wonderful. Rivers and Oceans is operated by people who truly care about your trip and have the personal experience to help you make the best choice. Now go see for yourself and let Rivers and Oceans lead you towards the adventure of a lifetime.
The folks at Rivers and Oceans are great. Helped us find and book a trip and patiently answered many questions over the weeks preceding the trip. Thank you.
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