Upper San Juan River Rafting 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 past ancient indigenous cultural sites, contemplate rock art, and imagine yourself as the latest in the long legacy of humans to explore this area.

You’ll 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

It is with great respect that Holiday acknowledges that the upper San Juan has been home to the Núu-agha-tʉvʉ-pʉ̱ (Ute), Diné (Navajo), Hopi, and Pueblos people since long before our present day society existed. The river forms the northern boundary of the modern-day Navajo Nation. We are deeply appreciative of the relationships that we have built with the tribe. You can learn more about our land acknowledgements here.
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Trip Overview

  • Type:


  • Location:

    San Juan River - Four Corners Region

  • Length:

    3 Days

  • Dates:


  • Meet at:

    Desert Rose; Bluff, UT @ 7:00 pm (night before the trip), and 7:00 am day of trip

  • Difficulty:


  • Min. Age:


  • Prices:

    Adult - $1,030
    Youth - $980 (18 & under)
    Senior - $980 (65 & older)
    Group - $980 (10 or more)
    + $22 BLM fee

  • Deposit:



  • Explore Ancestral Puebloan cultural sites 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


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 7:00 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 at 7:00 the next morning for the short ride to the Sand Island put-in. These upper reaches of the river are 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. Enjoy exploring from camp, relaxing to the sounds of the river, or start up a beachside game of volleyball while your guides set up camp and prepare a delicious meal for you.

Day 2:

Bask in the early morning sun as it creeps down the canyon walls. Enjoy some hot coffee or tea while your guides whip up breakfast before another enthralling day on the river. Push off the beach this morning and float alongside Comb Ridge, one of the longest geologic uplifts in the region, then follow the river as it 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. Another camp evening lets you soak in the last rays of sunshine as you enjoy some quality time with your travel group – celebrating your time together and making new friends and memories!

Day 3:

This is a breakfast you won’t want to miss! Watch in awe as your guides prepare made-to-order omelets served right off the griddle. 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.

San Juan River Upper Slideshow 1

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!


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Holiday River Expeditions
Average rating:  
 12 reviews
 by Mona Knapp

I am so grateful for the excellent communication. Karen went far beyond the extra mile to ensure that this trip was perfect for me... her personal attention was invaluable and made for an unforgettable journey. Beautiful website, thorough information, easy to use... (Except I can't get my photos to upload on this form --but that might be my iPad's problem).

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 the 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 another rafting company!

 by Clint and Molly Wolf Prescott

This is our third trip and Karen once again nailed it! From a giant family wedding trip to a biking/rafting trip, and now to a trip with our kids it’s always so easy to return to Holiday and Karen for an easily organized grand adventure. Simply the best!

So much good information on the web that I returned to over and over again! All of the gear was spot on and truly waterproof and of great quality.

The guides are above and beyond; talented, educated, but also fun! (Made my son a birthday cake and provided a gluten-free menu for me for every meal!) Everything is timely and managed and organized. The food is such an added treat, nothing like eating gourmet on a river trip!

I can never say enough about our Holiday adventures! This is our third one, and this time we brought our children. There aren’t words to express how much it means to pass on the love of nature to our boys with such a grand adventure, but knowing all the while how well planned out, fun, and safe the trip will be. I can guarantee we will return again.

 by Susan Kearns

The guides were wonderful!! Great young women and a fantastic trip lead. The food was fresh, healthy, and super yummy. Holiday does it up right! This was a women's trip and it was fabulous! The guides and trip leader were accommodating, accomplished, and very personable. What a fantastic experience!

 by Barbara Reid

I had to change my initial reservation and it was handled with

diplomacy. I do not remember any difficulties. I would have enjoyed more geography and geology, but that was my grandchildren's least important part. They loved their time on the river and the river guides. They were fantastic with the girls and we all felt safe. Even when there were time commitments, I never felt pressured to hurry and everything seemed to be flowing well.

 by Elizabeth Upper

Karen Johnson was constantly available, and responsive to my every need! Holiday has always met or exceeded our expectations, providing safe, comfortable, and entertaining travel all the way!

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