- Sample Itinerary
- Trip Details
- About the Area
- Getting Here
The San Juan River offers some of the most amazing landscape found anywhere. From rainbow colored canyon walls to polished limestone swimming pools, this region always surprises and delights its visitors. From the canyon rim, we have an endless vista of Monument Valley.
Flowing faster than any other river we run, the San Juan’s 83 miles and scores of small rapids are perfect for children and inflatable kayaking.
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
- Explore slickrock and prehistoric Indian ruins
- Classic Southern Utah desert environment, warm water
- Perfect rafting for children and inflatable kayaks
We are reveling about the gorgeous scenery every day with the
overwhelming colors, shapes, and heights of the rock formations. We
were impressed too with the knowledge that our guides had about the
history of the early people who tried to settle there, and much about
the rock formations. You have a wonderful crew - all real pros.
LOVE OF THE RIVER
The guides were wonderful -- T.J. and Loren knew interesting stories about the history of the canyon, told us about the geology, showed us fossils, told awful jokes, cooked amazing food and shared their love of the river and the canyon. They seemed to genuinely enjoy all the people too. And they accommodated the interests of the group from stopping at Sand Island so we could see the petroglyphs, to helping us get to the best place for a chance to see the eclipse of the sun. I was impressed by how the logistics and equipment have changed in the 40 years since I was last on a Holiday trip -- more elegant without changing the basic river experience. (The Bano, hand washing stations, drinking water, already inflated self-bailing boats! The food was always good, and it is even better now.)
The guides were outstanding! The food was delicious! I don't see how anything could have been better. This was definitely a 5 star experience. I would go with Holiday again in a heartbeat. Our group was especially interested in trying to see the solar eclipse, and the guides were most accommodating, even though it wasn't on the original agenda. They were wonderful.
The guides are always a pleasure to get to know and the food is fantastic. I have been on many vacations that include Hawaii and cruises and I can honestly say that the river trips with Holiday are my favorite.
I WAS PREPARED!
It was nice to be able to get a sense of the activities and scenery! Also, I'll admit I did look up what accommodations were made for bathrooms. I was surprised and delighted that you do explain that. Great to be prepared! Great website. Everything EXCEEDED my expectations. I had such an wonderful experience with Holiday Expeditions and learned so much about nature and preservation. Our guides were so knowledgeable and took us to amazing destinations! Such a great trip for the soul!
We came from England to spend 2 weeks in Utah. We spent a week in Zion and then headed East for our rafting trip. It was a highlight of the holiday, especially as we lay in our sleeping bags on the first night, in a long line, counting shooting stars. Totally memorable. Thank you for a really brilliant rafting trip. I would love to think we will be back sometime.
VEGGIE FOOD OPTIONS
Maya and Hank were really fun and personable. Your veggie food options are great! I love that you are teaching the guides to teach all the guests about preserving the wilderness, cryptobiotic soil, etc. It is really nice to do business with a caring company.
WISH WE HAD MORE TIME!
The guides met or exceeded our high expectations. They are the main reason we keep going back to Holiday! The only negative for this trip was that it was too short to see all the sights along the way. What we did do was great, but we missed Honaker trail, Comb Wash and other places. This should be a 6 or 7 day trip!
FUN IN THE DUCKIES
The guides were exceptional! I felt safe in the boats, encouraged to have fun in the duckies, and well-cared for with meals and camping sites. Jess is a great trip leader and made the trip even better. Alex told me tons of facts about the plants and animals in the area during one of our hikes. Katy was always cheerful and competent when guiding the boat. HIKE: I enjoyed all the hiking we did, but wish we could have done more!
GLEN CANYON NATIONAL RECREATION AREA
SAN JUAN RIVER, 3 OR 4 DAYS
Pound for pound, the San Juan is one of the fastest moving rivers 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 Navajo Land, 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. The three and four day itineraries vary based on the seasonal water flows in May and June. For specifics on your trip’s date and itinerary please ask your reservationist.
Day 1: Meet group in Blanding, Utah then we’re off on a 1 hour scenic ride to the put-in point – Mexican Hat. 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 2: 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.
Day 3: 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 grotto’s and swimming pools.
Day 4: Fast water drops you into LakePowell 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.
As mentioned earlier, this is a sample itinerary and should not be thought of as the trip you will experience. It is intended to give an idea of what the trip will be like. It could also be exactly what you do. Keep an open mind, be flexible, go with the flow, and enjoy!
We meet for your trip in Blanding (4-day) or Bluff (3-day), Utah. If you are driving, your car can be left at the Stone Lizard Lodging in Blanding or Desert Rose Inn & Cabins in Bluff. 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.
When you arrive in Blanding or Bluff the day before your trip, there will be a pre-trip orientation meeting at 8:00 p.m. (Mountain Time). We will meet you in the parking lot just outside the Stone Lizard Lodging or Desert Rose Inn & Cabins. 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.
Beginning of the trip: On the morning of your trip, plan to meet promptly at 7:00 a.m. (Mountain Time) at the Stone Lizard Lodging or Desert Rose Inn & Cabins. We will then take a 5-minute van ride to Sand Island (3-Day trips) or a one-hour van ride to Mexican Hat (4-Day trips), where we will transfer to the boats and start the trip.
After the trip: All trips except 3-Day trips will disembark at Clay Hills Crossing where you will travel by van back to Blanding, Utah. Our expected time of arrival back at the Stone Lizard Lodging is 4:00 to 5:00 p.m. Our 3-Day trips will disembark at Mexican Hat where you will travel by van back to Bluff, Utah. Our expected time of arrival back at the Desert Rose Inn & Cabins is 3:00 p.m.
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.
Cancellation Policy: 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 the trip date we will transfer reservations to another trip in the same year with a $25.00 service charge per person. All policies will be enforced and we strongly recommend trip cancellation insurance. 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.
Tipping the guides: Many guests ask us if tipping is appropriate after the trip. If you feel the guides have been instrumental in your enjoyment of the trip, you may choose to direct a gratuity to the trip leader in the form of cash or check. He/She will then distribute it evenly to the other crew members. Of those that choose to tip, the average contribution amount ranges between $15.00 and $25.00 per guest, per day. However, the decision to tip is left to your sole discretion.
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. Alcoholic beverages will need to be purchased prior to your arrival in Blanding. Please Note: There is no liquor, wine, beer, or wine coolers sold or served in Blanding, Utah.
If you have any questions prior to leaving for your trip, we welcome you to call our Salt Lake City office, Monday through Friday at 800-624-6323 (outside Utah) or 801-266-2087 (inside Utah). We’re happy to take the time to answer your questions. You may also contact us by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
IF YOU HAVE ANY QUESTIONS THE NIGHT BEFORE THE TRIP, OUR GREEN RIVER HEADQUARTERS NUMBER IS 435-564-3273
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.
Things to see in the area: The Edge of the Cedars Anasazi Museum & State Park, Natural Bridges National Monument, La Sal and Henry Mountains, Newspaper Rock, Hovenweep National Monument, Monument Valley, Navajo National Monument, San Juan Goosenecks State Park, Comb Ridge/Abajo Mountains (BlueMountain), Grand Gulch Wilderness Area, Mesa Verde National Park
Reading material, you may enjoy:
San Juan River Guide Lisa Kearsley………………………………………………… $17.95
Life in Stone Christa Sadler……………………………………………………………. $11.95
The Educated Outlaw Harvey Lay Murdock (Grandson)…………………….. $10.95
These books can be ordered on line at www.bikeraft.com, or by sending the appropriate amount listed above plus $5.60 priority shipping to Holiday River Expeditions, 544 East 3900 South, SLC UT 84107. This is available within the U.S. only. If outside the U.S. additional shipping and handling charges will be added. You can call 801-266-2087 for rates.
If you are flying, you can fly to Salt Lake City located 310 miles northwest of Blanding or 398 miles of Bluff, Utah. From there you can rent a car or take a shuttle with Moab Luxury Coach (call 435-940-4212) to Blanding or Bluff, Utah. If you need assistance with your travel arrangements, please ask your Holiday River Expedition reservation agent.
Lodging before and after your trip can be booked at:
Stone Lizard Lodging 435-678-3323 (locally owned, suites available)
Gateway Inn Motel 435-678-2278 (locally owned, outdoor pool, continental breakfast)
Four Corners Inn 435-678-3257 (continental breakfast)
Super 8 435‑678‑3880 (indoor hot tub)
Desert Rose Inn & Cabins 435-672-2303 (locally owned)
Recapture Lodge 435-672-2281 (locally owned, outdoor pool, breakfast)
BE SURE TO MAKE ADVANCE RESERVATIONS!
If you are camping out, there is one campground in Blanding: the Kampark Campground (RV with full hookups & tent sites – 435-678-2770). There are also four Forest Service campgrounds in the Abajo Mountains 15 to 30 miles north of Blanding.
Holiday River Expedition's Travel Agents - Mateja Harrington & Cindy Swenson with Cruise and Travel Masters are happy to assist you with your travel plans. Contact Mateja or Cindy to take the work out of "Getting Here".
Toll Free - 800-264-0557 (You must ask for Mateja Harrington or Cindy Swenson)
Email Attention Mateja or Cindy: email@example.com
Or, do it yourself, we can help…
Colorado and Utah Rivers
Gateway - Salt Lake City, Utah OR Denver, Colorado
Air Service to Salt Lake City (SLC) or Denver (DEN)
- America West Airlines 800-235-9292
- American Airlines 800-433-7300
- Continental Airlines 800-525-0280
- Delta Air Lines 800-221-1212
- Frontier Airlines 800-432-1359
- JetBlue Airways 800-538-2583
- Northwest Airlines 800-225-2525
- SkyWest Airlines 800-453-9417
- Southwest Airlines 800-435-9792
- United Airlines 800-241-6522
- United Express 800-241-6522
- US Airways 800-435-9792
TRANSPORTATION OPTIONS FROM SALT LAKE CITY to Green River, Vernal or Blanding, Utah
Once in Salt Lake City most of our guests rent-a-car and drive to our meeting points.
All rental cars are located in both terminals of the Salt Lake City Airport.
- Alamo Rental Car 801-575-2211
- Budget Rental Car 801-575-2821
- Dollar Rent a Car 801-575-2580
- Thrifty Rental Car 801-265-6677
- Salt Lake City to Green River 180 miles
- Salt Lake City to Blanding 300 miles
- Salt Lake City to Vernal 180 miles
Shuttle Service to Green River or Blanding, Utah from Salt Lake City (Vernal is on a Charter basis only)
TRANSPORTATION OPTIONS FROM DENVER to Green River, Vernal or Blanding, Utah
Air Service to Vernal (VEL), Utah from Denver, Colorado
Air Service to Moab (CNY) (52 miles south of Green River), Utah from Denver, Colorado
Rafting Gear & Clothing Checklist
PROVIDED BY HOLIDAY RIVER EXPEDITIONS
- LIFE JACKETS
- WATERPROOF BAG
- DAY BAG
- CAMP CHAIRS
- EATING UTENSILS AND PLATES
- FULL COURSE MEALS lunch the first day through lunch the last day
- DRINKS ice water, lemonade, juices, 2 pops/person/day-mix of reg. & diet
The day bag 8" diameter x 20" high is for items you will need access to during the day. For your sleeping gear and clothing, we will furnish you with one bag 16" diameter x 2 feet high. When properly sealed, bags are usually waterproof. Once in a while, one could develop a problem; so if you have concerns, test your bags. Separate storage is provided for tents and beverages. Please remember to keep your gear light and compact . . . the less you bring, the happier you will be. Please limit gear and clothing to no more than 15-20 lbs.
GEAR YOU MUST BRING OR RENT FROM HOLIDAY
- CUP plastic mugs work well.
- WATERBOTTLE (S)
- SLEEPING BAG compact and warm
- GROUND CLOTH waterproof
- PONCHO/RAIN SUIT high quality important.
- SLEEPING PAD/AIR MATTRESS Compact, must fit in the bag described above.
- LIGHT TENT Back packer style, not the bulky, heavy types.
You can rent the items listed above in our sleeping rental kit. We offer two varieties, our basic sleeping kit which includes a sleeping bag, sleeping pad, ground cloth, rain gear and cup for $40.00, or the same basic sleeping kit with a two-man tent for $65.00. Rentals must be reserved in advance. Waterbottles available for purchase at our stores in Green River and Vernal Headquarters, or online.
- SWIMMING SUITS
- SHORTS quick drying
- LONG PANTS quick drying
- HAT for sun protection, with strap
- SUN GLASSES with safety strap
- SUN SCREEN SPF 15 or higher
- CHAPSTICK with sun screen
- HAND LOTION sm. plastic bottle
- COMB or BRUSH
- QUICK DRY TRAVEL TOWEL
- KLEENEX small travel pack
- CAMERA(at your own risk), extra memory cards (or film), batteries, and waterproof container.
- Hyration Pack w/extra pockets (optional)
- SHIRT (S) short-sleeved, cotton T-shirts
- SHIRT (S) long-sleeved, quick dry for sun protection
- SHOES keep dry for camp/hiking/biking, i.e. durable sneakers or lightweight hiking boots
- SHOES to get wet while rafting, i.e. water sport shoes or sneakers
- SOCKS several pair, 1 cotton, 2 polypropylene or wool
- JACKET fleece or pile with wind/rain resistant shell
- LONG UNDERWEAR (optional) med. weight polypropylene/synthetic type
- BIODEGRADABLE SOAP available at outdoor specialty stores, or ivory soap
- INSECT REPELLENT concentrates in small bottles works best, i.e. Musk brand
- TAMPAX/ZIPLOCK BAGS 1 bag per day
- MEDICATION Aspirin/IBU Profen/Tylenol and personal prescriptions
- FLASHLIGHT or HEADLAMP small with extra batteries
- STUFF SACK to keep wet/dry clothes separated, i.e. pillow case or plastic bag
- FISHING GEAR (optional) compact and well protected, i.e. rods in a case
- EXTRA BEVERAGES (optional) NO GLASS
- PLEASE, liquor/ wine/ canned-beer/wine coolers/specialty pops/juice
- EXTRA SNACKS (optional) for small children and people with diabetes.
Things not to bring on your trip glass-bottled beverages, radios, firearms, pets, and large amounts of cash beyond what you'll want for your guide's gratuity. Do not bring expensive electronics such as cell phones, laptops, tablets and the like, binoculars, cameras, jewelry & non-waterproof wristwatches. Warning: In the event of a loss our insurance will not cover these items. **If you do decide to bring any of these items along with you to the meeting point for your trip the most secure location to leave them behind would at your hotel in their safe or locked up in the trunk of your vehicle. As a last resort we have non-secure location at our headquarters, but we cannot assume responsibility for these items.
EARLY OR LATE SEASONS SUPPLEMENTS
(May and Sept. on all trips and in June on all Idaho, Yampa and Lodore trips.)
- STOCKING CAP wool/polypropylene
- GLOVES wool/polypropylene
- WETSUIT BOOTIES replaces water sport shoes above
- PILE OUTERWEAR in addition to a quality jacket, synthetic pile pants
- LONG UNDERWEAR (optional) med. weight polypropylene/synthetic type
There is a greater chance of inclement weather on these trips which otherwise offer many advantages to the well-prepared river traveler. Polypropylene, fleece, pile, bunting, capeline, etc. are a few examples of trade names for a class of synthetic materials that retain their ability to insulate when wet (please note, cotton does not.) Your comfort on the trip starts with finding the right type of synthetic under and outer-wear and quality rain gear. We recommend Backcountry.com for your additional river trip needs. Backcountry.com offers a wide variety of gear to help you dress for success the for your river trip no matter what the weather decides to do. A prepared traveler is a happy traveler.
ITEMS YOU CAN BUY AT HOLIDAY'S ONLINE STORE:
www.BikeRaft.com or at our accessories stores in Green River and Vernal; the meeting points for our Cataract, Westwater, Desolation, Lodore and Yampa trips.
ITEMS YOU CAN BUY AT BACKCOUNTRY.COM Backcountry camping gear and clothing