Great Old Broads Illustrated Journaling on the Lower San Juan River

Experiencing wilderness has immeasurable benefits for many people. Sketching what you encounter in the wilderness deepens that experience.  By providing time to closely observe and respond to the details of the landscape, you become more immersed in your journey. Your illustrated journal becomes a meaningful meditation and an irreplaceable memory of time spent in the wild. That is why our friends at the Great Old Broads for Wilderness have decided to combine the two experiences with a four-day river trip down the lower San Juan River.

Peg Herring

M.L. “Peg” Herring

Joining us will be teacher and author M. L. (Peg) Herring who will lead drawing exercises to inspire you in the artful discovery of illustrated journaling.

Peg is professor emerita of science communications at Oregon State University and co-author of seven books about Pacific Northwest environments. An avid plein air artist, Peg teaches techniques of nature illustration and writing to explorers young and old.  She is the past president of the Sitka Center for Art and Ecology board of directors.

In addition to journaling and connecting with like-minded individuals, this trip offers extraordinary hiking through breathtaking desert scenery, opportunities to paddle inflatable kayaks and stand-up paddle boards and sleep under the Milky Way. Allow our expert guides to take care of the hard work while you experience the self-journey of a lifetime.

Peg on the Green River

Peg on the Green River

On this Great Old Broads for Wilderness (or just, ‘Broads’) partner trip, you’ll have the opportunity to engage with a grassroots organization passionate about nature conservation. Not only will you have the benefit of Holiday’s professional guide team and brilliant journaling facilitator, but GOB Grassroots Leadership Coordinator, Emily Loubsky will be joining us on the trip to promote connection and discussion about the importance of protecting wilderness spaces. Holiday is proud to support grassroots organizations, like the Broads, that help to protect and treasure the wild spaces we recreate in. We donate a portion of the proceeds from this trip to the Broads to fund the work they do to help protect our nation’s public lands.

Additions to the standard pack list:  1) a small sketchbook; and 2) a few drawing pencils, pens, and water-based paints if you have them. (These art supplies should be few and fully portable.)

More about our partners:

Great Old Broads

Great Old Broads for Wilderness gives voice to the millions of Americans who want to protect their public lands for future generations. Founded in 1989they are one of the few public land conservation organizations led by women. With more than 8,500 members and supporters across the nation, they emphasize local grassroots action. They value and promote women’s leadership and experience and have fun doing serious work.

Emily Loubsky

Emily Loubsky

Emily is a dedicated environmental advocate with over 15 years of experience engaging communities in natural resource recreation and stewardship. Her background in human dimensions of natural resources has informed her work in community building, program development, and non-profit management. Before joining Broads, Emily founded a women-led watershed stewardship organization committed to amplifying underrepresented voices in the water field. In her free time, you can find Emily playing on the river, dancing up mountains, or exploring the high alpine desert with her pup.

A few of her proudest accomplishments include:

  • Earning a full-ride scholarship to pursue a Dual Masters Degree from Penn State in Human Dimensions of Natural Resources and Recreation, Parks, & Tourism Management.
  • Leading a collaborative community process to create a local trail system. Emily wrote the trails plan that was approved by the BLM, secured funding, and oversaw the completion of 25 miles of new single track trail construction.
  • Securing over $400,000 in grants to support local water sustainability through the non-profit she founded, Blue Elements.
  • Guiding her own craft down 225 miles of the Grand Canyon.
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 of 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 acknowledgments here.
Book This Trip

Trip Overview

  • Type:

    Rafting

  • Location:

    San Juan River - Four Corners Region

  • Length:

    4 Days

  • Dates:

    September 16 - 19, 2024

  • Meet at:

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

  • Difficulty:

    Beginner

  • Min. Age:

    5

  • Prices:

    $1660 + $20 BLM fee

  • Deposit:

    400

Highlights

  • 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

Itinerary

Float down the “River Flowing from the Sunrise” as it weaves and bends through the Four Corners Region of Utah. Beginning in the town of Mexican Hat, you will quickly descend into the heart of the canyon and through the geologic marvel known as the Monument Upwarp. Get lost in the San Juan’s meanders before emerging in the upper reaches of Lake Powell before taking out at Clay Hills Crossing, Utah.

Sample Itinerary

The evening before your trip:

Please plan to attend our pre-trip meeting at the Arch Canyon Inn in the town of Blanding, Utah, at 7:00 p.m. MST. We will issue your dry bags for the trip, giving you plenty of time to pack in the comfort of your hotel, as well as answer any last minute questions you may have. We’ll do some quick introductions and ensure that everyone is ready to launch the following morning.

Day 1:

The day is here! Join us back at the Arch Canyon Inn at 7:00 a.m. for the one-hour scenic van ride to the put-in just outside of the small town of Mexican Hat, Utah. Our first stop on the river may be an optional hike to the cabin built by prospector Walter Mendenhall in 1894, one of the many fascinating archeological stops on the San Juan. Shortly thereafter, we’ll descend into the famed Goosenecks of the San Juan, keeping our eyes for the great blue herons to lead the way into the labyrinth. After finding the ideal campsite, we’ll park the boats and you will learn how to fire line your bags off the boats. Then your guides will offer an orientation to river camping, including camp layout and remaining itinerary. Set up your camp and then join the group to kick your feet up and journal while listening to the river. Enjoy a feast cooked up by your guides before retreating to fall asleep cozy in your tent, or right on the sand underneath a dark starry sky.

Day 2:

The day gets started early with hot coffee, tea, or hot chocolate and a scrumptious breakfast to fuel you up for the invigorating morning hike up the Honaker Trail, a relic of the 1892 gold rush. The reward for those who climb 1,200-foot vertical effort is an unforgettable view of Monument Valley – don’t forget your camera! We’ll push off into the current and you’ll have the chance to journal as we meander along with the river through the geologic record present in the canyon walls. We will run Ross Rapid, but not before playing in good, clean mud! Rinse off and embrace river life as you set up camp this evening and experience another riverfront meal, participate in another journaling activity, and make memories with new and old friends alike.

Day 3:

Another glorious river morning! After a delicous breakfast, we’ll push off and float downstream. Today we’ll keep our eyes out for the Government Bird Rock perched on the canyon wall, the signal that Government Rapid is approaching. After successfully navigating the only class three whitewater of the trip, we’ll wander up Slickhorn Gulch to a hidden grotto and swimming hole. The group will be sure to scrub off in the river before hiking to the pool—sunscreen and other chemicals on our skin disrupt the fragile ecosystem of the pristine freshwater pool. Later, we’ll make camp and enjoy one last river dinner at the mouth of one of the iconic side canyons along the river. Enjoy your inner dialogue through journaling while engaging with the group, taking in the stars, and basking in the peace of river life.

Day 4:

One final “river alarm” of the guides shouting “HOT COFFEE!” to wake you up, and one final camp pack up. But don’t fret, as the trip is yet to end and the final day has lots to offer! Paddle a kayak or SUP as golden morning light on sandstone walls usher us downstream, past Oljeto Wash and into the upper reaches of Lake Powell – a place that is constantly changing these days. We’ll wind and weave our way to the take out destintation at Clay Hills Crossing, soaking up the last precious moments of river time. After loading up the boats and gear onto trailers, we’ll load ourselves into the vans for the two hour drive back to the town of Blanding, Utah. Our expected arrival time in Blanding will be between 4:00 and 5:00 p.m. Say a final goodbye (or see you later!) to your new river friends (and guides!), and carry these memories with you in your mind, soul, and journal, 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 is a sample itinerary and illustrates a possible 4-day trip on the San Juan River.

Lower San Juan GOB Women Campfire

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!

 

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