The San Juan River is one of the steepest and fastest-moving rivers in the United States. With an average drop of eight feet per mile, it’s steeper than the average gradient of the Colorado River in Grand Canyon! Although steep, its rapids are relatively mellow. This makes the San Juan a great place for families, inflatable kayak enthusiasts, and first-time river runners. Archaeological sites from ancient pueblo civilizations and recent Diné (Navajo) People abound in the upper canyon. Add in the stunning exposures of Colorado Plateau geology that dominate throughout, and this trip keeps you enthralled. Visiting the River House ruins and rafting through Comb Ridge and the famous Goosenecks of the San Juan are particular highlights.
The San Juan is also where commercial river running was born. Norman Nevills began operating scenic float trips from Mexican Hat through Grand Canyon in 1938. This river is also especially known for the phenomenon of sand waves. Shifting sand on the bottom of the river creates waves that migrate upstream until they collapse under their own weight. These large but mostly harmless waves make for a particularly thrilling ride in an inflatable kayak. Five-day trips give you the best of both worlds: the archaeology of the upper canyon and the wilderness of the lower.
“A river trip offers families the opportunity to see stunning landscapes and to re-connect with children and adults of all ages. There is nothing electronic, just the natural environment, conversations, and sunshine. It is simply magical.” (Andrew and Leigh Ann Morse)