When was the last time you got together with a group of artists and adventurers to paint in watercolor? This fluid, lyrical art form is the perfect medium of expression for a workshop while floating on the idyllic San Juan River. Treat yourself to 5 days of humbling canyon walls, calm flowing river, Ancestral Puebloan archeology, and decidedly decent dining, all while digesting the river’s magic through art. We have enlisted the best when it comes to our artist in “river-dence-” Michal Onyon, who has married her stunning artwork with Holiday River Expeditions trips for over three decades.
This watercolor workshop on the San Juan River takes you to deep into Utah’s southeastern corner, a wonderland of dramatic geology. A full five-day trip on the San Juan is a bucket list trip for sure! Although the San Juan River may not have the infamously named rapids of some of the other Utah rivers, it is in fact, one of the steepest and fastest-flowing rivers in the US! Believe it or not, its average drop rate of eight feet per mile actually makes its gradient steeper than that of the Colorado River through Grand Canyon! Even so, due to its generally gentle rapids, this river stretch is ideal for leisurely river trips, inflatable kayaking, and first-time river runners. Its fast flowing pace provides the perfect cadence between traveling downstream and explorations! The Colorado Plateau geology really shows off in this corner of the state; there are also several ancestral puebloan (such as the River House ruins) and recent Diné (Navajo) Peoples’ archeological sites well preserved within these canyon walls. As we transition from the Upper San Juan to the Lower, join your guides in scanning the river for sand waves! This unique phenomenon happens as moving sand from the bottom of the river builds up to create waves that actually travel upstream! 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.
Who knows what sort of magical wonderland awaits you! Regardless, the leisurely pace will give you ample daylight at camp to paint to your heart’s content. Michal has created a supply list so you are sure to have everything you’ll need! The visual supply list is below in the video section.
To learn more about this majestic river check out our Insider’s Guide to the San Juan River
Michal Onyon’s en pleine aire watercolors of nature have been in gallery shows and were instrumental in awarding her an art residency in Zion National Park. These small, easy paintings are a creative visual of a moment of time observing land and light. To her, they are like zen postcards, where even sounds and the feeling of the air can be remembered. We rarely stay in one spot very long and for her, painting heightens looking closer and longer. In this journey, painting ability does not matter. We can all learn with each other. Come as you are and create in a beautiful place with us.