San Juan River Rafting Trips

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San Juan Whitewater Rafting – About This Trip

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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. The left bank of the river borders the present day Navajo Nation, while filled with sacred sites from the ancient pueblo civilizations of the past. Scores of ancestral sites and petroglyphs line the canyon walls. This river also boasts the birthplace of commercial river running in 1938 when Norman Nevils began operating trips from Mexican Hat through the Grand Canyon.

The San Juan, with a lot of small rapids, perfect for children, 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.

Trip Overview

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Location: Four Corners
Region Type: Rafting
Length: 5 Days
Dates: May - June
Meet At: Blanding, Utah 7:00 am
Rating: Beginner
Age Min: 5
Deposit: $300

Highlights

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  • Perfect trip for kids and families
  • Float through the heart of ancestral puebloan culture
  • Dizzyingly beautiful canyons through the “goosenecks”
  • Ideal pairing dry heat and and cool river water

Trip Price & Departure Dates

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5 - Day - Adult - $1,000
Youth - $900 (18 & Under)
Senior - $935 (65 & Older)
Group - $935 (10 or more)

*Plus $42 Agency fees

2019 Trip Dates

5 Day Trips Dates

May 9, 16, 23, 30
June 6, 13

 

Trip Slideshow

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Full Gallery

Map

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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

Itinerary

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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:  Begin your adventure in Blanding, Utah at 7:00 AM and spend a 45 minute breathtaking ride to Sand Island put-in.  Spend the day encountering sign after sign of 5 distinct cultures of indigenous ancestor’s presence in the form of pictographs, petroglyphs and hand-carved steps in the canyon walls. Investigate elegantly designed Ancestral Puebloan ruins before descending through Comb Ridge.

Day 2:  Pass through the settlement of Mexican Hat before traversing the famed Goosenecks of the San Juan.  Take an optional hike to the 1894 prospector cabin of infamous gold prospector Walter Mendenhall. Rest easy this evening after hiking the Honaker Trail, a relic 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:  This morning you will float through layered canyons, play in good clean mud and take in the depths of the serpentine canyon walls. Take a ride through Ross rapid and find camp in the paradox walls bellow.

Day 4: The morning will bring Government Rapid. The afternoon will give you a chance to meander up  Slickhorn Gulch, one of the most celebrated side canyons along the Colorado river drainage. The trail will take you to a hidden grotto and swimming hole. We will make camp at one of the iconic side canyons nestled in this lower drainage.

Day 5:  This final stretch could lead us to peer inside Oljeto Wash and its magical side canyon and continue across what remnants of  “Lake” Powell to the take out at Clay Hills Crossing. You will transfer to a two-hour scenic van ride back to Blanding, Utah. Our expected time of arrival back at the Super 8 is 4:00 to 5:00 p.m.

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!

Reviews

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Holiday River Expeditions
Average rating:  
 38 reviews
by Gary Simms on Holiday River Expeditions

Karen was very polite and helpful in helping me select the best option for my first river raft trip. Total neophyte to river rafting and more than 40 years since I camped as a scout, but this trip was as easy as I could have hoped for. I'm still in utter awe of how hard Sarah and Eve worked to make our trip as effortless as it was!
Obviously the guides were amazing, but so was the food, campsite, kayaking, and fellowship with other campers and the guides. Even sleeping on the air mats was pretty good. It was hot so you started out on top of the sleeping bag and crawled inside at some point in the night when the temps dropped.
At 2 AM the stars are amazing as I believe this is designated a dark sky area. Amazing campsites you will only believe if you take the trip! I took (and will share ) pictures so people would believe me. We had a 5 year old child with one of the families. The guides entertained this 5 year old better than I could imagine. The little girl was as cute as pie, but still, guides do their work for 15 hours a day and entertain her? 6 stars. I was pretty concerned about the 100 plus heat, but no problems with that since the river was 60F!

by Kenneth Potenberg on Holiday River Expeditions

The guides were wonderful, personable, friendly and just plain outstanding. Sarah did an incredible job, very well organized. Kalie works like a demon. Tess was especially attentive to my two grandchildren which isn`t always easy. They were the best overall crew we have worked with at Holiday. The trip was primarily an opportunity to expose my two grandsons (ages 5 and 7) to rafting as the three adults in our party had traveled with Holiday in the past. The boys had a flat out great time as did the adults. Great guides. great food, great hikes and just a wonderful experience! Thanks.

by Mike Sargetakis on Holiday River Expeditions

Mac and Jessica are amazing. I've been on all kinds of guided trips and they were my favorite guides I've ever had anywhere. Very professional but didn't act like they were "other" than us. They really were a great part of the trip. The food was amazing, always plenty of it. Cold water. Fun times. Very adaptable to our broad range of abilities and desires in all aspects of the trip.

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