Upper San Juan River Float Trip

Holiday’s three-day upper San Juan River trip is all about calm water and archaeology. Raft through the improbably uplifted rocks of Comb Ridge and into a flowing desert oasis. Visit sacred riverside cultural sites that have stood for millennia. Surround yourself with the stories left behind by the people who have called the river home for thousands of years. Walk through ruins, contemplate rock art, and imagine yourself as the latest in the long legacy of humans to explore this area. Camp out in a wonderland of red rocks and nature while our guides take care of all the details. They’ll row the boats, cook the food, and provide expert interpretation about the history and nature around you. This is a perfect trip for families with young children, or people looking for a gentle introduction to rafting. It’s also fun for inflatable kayaks! A trip on the upper San Juan river is the best way to experience the culture and scenery of the Four Corners. Three days provide just enough time to unplug and leave still wanting more.

Featured Review:

“This trip was among the best we’ve taken in the last decade. We decided to make this a reunion trip with a few couples from earlier times in our lives. It was a great decision and allowed us to become reacquainted in an atmosphere that was both intimate as well as beautiful. Your guides were truly facilitators of our enjoyment in every possible facet of the experience. Kudos to Holiday River Expeditions for putting in the hard work that allows people like us to step outside of our daily lives into such an incredible environment.” (Wayne and Kathy Adams)

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

Book This Trip

Trip Overview

  • Type:

    Rafting

  • Location:

    San Juan River - Four Corners Region

  • Length:

    3 Days

  • Dates:

    May–June

  • Meet at:

    Desert Rose; Bluff, UT @ 8:00 pm (night before the trip)

  • Difficulty:

    Beginner

  • Min. Age:

    5

  • Deposit:

    300

Highlights

  • Explore prehistoric Native American ruins and incredible geology
  • Classic southern Utah desert environment
  • Warm water and mellow rapids: good for kids and inflatable kayaks
Getting Here Before You Go Packing List FAQs

Rates & Dates

3 Day

  • Adult:
  • $850
  • Youth:
    18 and under
  • $750
  • Senior:
    65 and older
  • $800
  • Group:
    10 or more
  • $800
Book This Trip
Check Availability
2020
  • May
  • 7, 14, 21, 28
  • June
  • 4, 11

Itinerary

The San Juan River flows west out of the mountains of the same name in southwestern Colorado, and quickly gains speed as it passes through the Four Corners and into southern Utah. Our three-day upper trips begin at Sand Island, near Bluff, Utah. Float into the heart of the Monument Upwarp and on to the take out at Mexican Hat, Utah.

Sample Itinerary

The night before your trip:

Please meet at the Desert Rose Resort and Cabins in Bluff, Utah, at 8:00 p.m. Mountain Time for a pre-trip meeting. We’ll give you your dry bags and do a quick orientation so that we can be prepared for a speedy departure the following morning.

Day 1:

Meet back at the Desert Rose the next morning for the short ride to the Sand Island put-in. These upper reaches of the river are simply covered with signs of the more than four different indigenous cultures that have lived in this canyon over thousands of years. Pictographs, petroglyphs, and hand-carved steps are visible along the canyon walls. Spend the night near “River House”, an incredible Ancestral Puebloan dwelling site showcasing the elegant design of their ancient civilizations.

Day 2:

Push off the beach this morning and float alongside Comb Ridge, one of the longest uplifts in the region, then follow the river as its cuts into the ridge’s heart. Prince’s plume and tufted yucca wave at you from talus slopes as you careen through winding canyons and Four Foot and Eight Foot rapids before resting for the evening near Limestone Draw.

Day 3:

Break camp and float by the iconic “Mexican Hat” rock formation, a precarious hoodoo with a striking sombrero-like shape. Enjoy your last few hours with the river and its wildlife before arriving at the boat ramp in Mexican Hat where we will meet our vans for the 45-minute drive back to Bluff, Utah.

Please note: this is a sample itinerary intended to provide one example of a three-day trip on the upper San Juan. Itineraries may vary based on campsite availability, weather, and seasonal water flows in May and June.

Wilderness river trips are changeable by nature. Please understand that this is only a sample itinerary, intended to give an idea of how your time will be spent on the river. You may have the opportunity to do all of the above activities, or you may have a variety of other memorable and exciting experiences. Holiday’s motto is “Go With the Flow”, and we encourage you to arrive with an open mind, a flexible attitude, and an appetite for adventure!

Reviews

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Holiday River Expeditions
Average rating:  
 3 reviews
by Thomas Beale on Holiday River Expeditions

We loved the pacing and extensive side hikes to canyons and archaeological sires, and especially the campsite on the last night. Whoever says the upper San Juan is boring must be crazy.

by Chip Ward on Holiday River Expeditions

I went with Glen Canyon Institue and they made the plans Guides and food exceeded expectations. We traveled the upper San Juan with TJ Sattlemeier and his stellar crew. Customer service like we experienced is rare. They were not only skilled at rowing us safely down the river, they were great cooks, guides, and companions. We were sorry to part and any one of them would be welcome in our home.

by Sue An Brooks on Holiday River Expeditions

We were very impressed with quality of waterproof bags, wetsuits and camping gear rental package!! Sleeping bags were clean and toasty warm on cold nights. Tents were dry and well-maintained. Wet suits and rain gear were fresh and clean. We have been on several other white water rafting expeditions in other areas in The US and Costa Rica, and Holiday is #1 in our book!! We cannot say enough good things about holiday and have already highly recommended them to our friends, family and co-workers. Our guides Dave and Sam worked from sunup to sundown were very informative and educated. They were fun, great cooks, super accommodating and really made our trip a lifetime experience! We will definitely be booking with holiday again!