Lower San Juan River Rafting Trip

In its lower reaches, the San Juan River enters a geological wonderland. It winds around the famous Goosenecks of the San Juan and dives into the bottom of an imposing, deep canyon. Watch the walls rise above you and feel the cares of the outside world drop away. The canyon offers historic sites such as an abandoned mining outpost and an old prospector’s trail that climbs straight up to the canyon rim, boasting views of Monument Valley. Natural wonders, fossils, and secret, fern-draped pools await you up the many side canyons. Government Rapid is the Class III whitewater highlight of the trip, while other Class I and II rapids provide ample opportunity for inflatable kayaking. Rafting the lower San Juan is an excellent float trip for families with young children, or people looking for an incredible and calm wilderness experience.

Featured Review:

“This was my very first river rafting trip. My first time camping in over 40 years. But I did it all. A member in our group told me I should win the award for “most out of her element with the most enthusiasm”! The hikes, the kayaking, and the rafting, IT WAS ALL AMAZING. Our guides were awesome and even better cooks. We were very well taken care of. I will 100% do this again. Thank you for a trip of a lifetime and for helping me with my bucket list.” (Cameron and Wendy Marsden)

Read more: The Insider’s Guide to Floating the San Juan River in Utah

Acknowledging the traditional inhabitants of the lower San Juan River. In a gesture of respect and appreciation for the Indigenous people who have lived on and cared for the rivers and canyons where we play, Holiday wishes to acknowledge that the lower San Juan is the traditional homeland of the Núu-agha-tʉvʉ-pʉ̱ (Ute), Southern Paiute, Diné (Navajo), Hopi, and Pueblo peoples. Today, the river forms the northern boundary of the Navajo Nation. Read more about our land acknowledgements here.
Book This Trip

Trip Overview

  • Type:


  • Location:

    San Juan River - Four Corners Region

  • Length:

    4 Days

  • Dates:

  • Meet at:

    Arch Canyon Inn; Blanding, Utah @ 7:00 pm (night before the trip), and 7:00 am day of trip

  • Difficulty:


  • Min. Age:


  • Prices:

    Adult - $1,160
    Youth - $1,100 (18 & under)
    Senior - $1,100 (65 & older)
    Group - $1,100 (10 or more)
    + $20 BLM fee

  • Deposit:



  • Float within the famous Goosenecks of the San Juan
  • Hike through stunning side canyons to secret pools
  • Fun and gentle introduction to whitewater rafting
Getting Here Before You Go Packing List FAQs

Rates & Dates


Float the “River Flowing from the Sunrise” as it arcs and bends its way through the Four Corners Region. Begin in the town of Mexican Hat, Utah, and quickly descend into the heart of the canyon. Float through the Monument Upwarp and emerge in the upper reaches of Lake Powell before taking out at Clay Hills Crossing, Utah.

Sample Itinerary

The night before your trip:

Please plan to attend our pre-trip meeting at the Arch Canyon Inn in Blanding, Utah, at 7:00 p.m. Mountain Time. This is when we’ll issue your dry bags for the trip, giving you plenty of time to pack in the comfort of your hotel. We’ll do some quick introductions and make sure that everything is ready to go for the following morning.

Day 1:

Good morning! Meet us back at the Arch Canyon Inn at 7:00 a.m. for the one-hour scenic ride to the put in near the small town of Mexican Hat, Utah. Our first stop on the river could be an optional hike to the cabin built in 1894 by prospector Walter Mendenhall, one of many whose dreams of riches were dashed by the San Juan. We’ll descend into the famed Goosenecks of the San Juan, watching for the great blue herons that appear to lead the way into the labyrinth. We’ll pullover for camp. Learn how to fire line your bags off the boats and then your guides will give you an orientation to river camping. Set up your camp and then kick your feet up and listen to the river while your guides cook up a feast. Fall asleep cozy in your tent, or right on the sand underneath a dark starry sky.

Day 2:

The morning starts early with hot coffee, tea, or hot chocolate and a scrumptious breakfast to fuel you up for the invigorating hike up the Honaker Trail. This trail is a relic of the 1892 gold rush. The reward for those who put forth this 1,200-foot vertical effort is an unforgettable view of Monument Valley – don’t forget your camera, or just take a mental photograph! We’ll push off into the swift current and meander along with the river through the layered canyon rocks, play in good, clean mud, and run through Ross Rapid. Embrace river life as you set up camp this evening and experience another riverfront meal, making memories with new and old friends alike.

Day 3:

Another glorious morning on the river. After a filling breakfast, we’ll push off to float downstream. Today we’ll watch out for the Government Bird Rock, perched on the canyon wall, our signal that Government Rapid is approaching. Later in the day we’ll wander up Slickhorn Gulch to a hidden grotto and swimming hole. Make certain to scrub off in the river before hiking to the pool—sunscreen and other chemicals on our skin disrupt the fragile ecosystem of the freshwater pool. We’ll make camp and enjoy one last river dinner at the mouth of one of the iconic side canyons along the lower river. By night three, you’re a regular river camping pro! Celebrate feeling accomplished as your camp set up and comfort become more familiar.

Day 4:

One final “HOT COFFEE!” call to wake you up, and one final camp pack up. But don’t fret, the final day still has lots to offer! Golden morning light reflecting on sandstone walls usher us downstream, past Oljeto Wash and into the sandbar-studded upper reaches of Lake Powell – a place that is constantly changing these days. We’ll dodge and weave our way to the take out at Clay Hills Crossing, soaking up the last precious moments of river time. We’ll load up the boats and gear before loading ourselves into the vans for the two hour drive back to Blanding, Utah. Our expected time of arrival in Blanding is between 4:00 and 5:00 p.m. Say a final goodbye to your new river friends (and guides!), and carry these memories with you, until the river calls you back again.

One of the advantages of our San Juan River trip is the flexibility of the daily itinerary. It can vary widely from one trip to the next based on group desires, seasonal water flows, weather, campsite availability, and courtesy for other groups on the river. This sample itinerary illustrates a 4-day trip on the San Juan River.

San Juan River Lower Campsite Rafts parked along rocks

Please keep in mind that this is a sample itinerary and should not be thought of as the exact 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!



Still not convinced? See what others are saying.

Submit your review

Create your own review

Holiday River Expeditions
Average rating:  
 7 reviews
 by Mona Knapp

All aspects of the trip were wonderful, a steady supply of cold water, hot coffee, excellent food, activities or the freedom to just lounge in camp. Most important, it was a pleasure to observe the skills of Trip leader Mary, especially safety communication and planning. While ensuring that every detail is correct, at the same time she is proactively thinking ahead and predicting possible safety needs for every member of the group. That is what really makes a great trip.
A life changing trip for me, made possible by the outstanding personal attention and feeling of perfect safety created by Holiday's excellent staff. My fellow travelers were the nicest people you could ever hope to meet. I would never consider other rafting company!

 by Melissa and Ryan Squire

A couple of our hikes we weren’t able to do because of high water. Would have been nice to have a backup. The food was really incredible and the guides were even more amazing!! They made the trip so fun with their positivity and energy. Watching them work was inspiring. The San Juan River was a beautiful sight and so worth the cost of the trip!

 by Brooke & Jason Ferrara

Food was terrific and they even had a cake for my husband’s birthday. Fantastic guides, scenery and a wonderful family trip. Happy to see not much has changed 20 years later. A definite must for your bucket list.

 by Guy Duffner

The vegan food was freakin' amazing!!! Thank you, thank you, thank you :) The guides ROCKED (knowledgeable, responsible, and fun) and transportation was excellent (clean and punctual). All in all, the trip was incredible. Thanks! Our San Juan trip was incredible. The guides took excellent care of us and attended to every one of our needs.

 by Cameron & Wendy Marsden

This was my very first river rafting trip. My first time camping in over 40 years. But I did it all. A member in our group told me I should win the award for "most out of her element with the most enthusiasm”! The hikes, the kayaking, and the rafting, IT WAS ALL AMAZING. Our guides TJ and Sherpa were awesome and even better cooks. We were very well taken care of. I will 100% do this again... Thank you for a trip of a lifetime and for helping me with my bucket list. :)

Page 1 of 2: