San Juan River – Youth Rafting Trips

The San Juan River offers panoramic vistas, unparalleled educational opportunities, and fast, fun, and forgiving whitewater rapids. Spend three, four, or five days visiting unique Ancestral Puebloan cultural sites, splashing through class I-III rapids, watching for big horn sheep, exploring polished limestone side canyons, and sleeping under the stars. Our professional guides handle the logistics, leaving youth group facilitators free to direct, teach, or play with their students.

This whitewater rafting trip takes us through the famous Goosenecks State Park and sites of both historic and prehistoric significance. From the diverse animal and plant life to the extraordinary geological features, the San Juan River is always a favorite whitewater vacation for youth.

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Trip Overview

  • Type:

    Rafting

  • Location:

    San Juan River

  • Length:

    3 - 5 Days

  • Dates:

    May - June

  • Meet at:

    Bluff or Mexican Hat, Utah @ 7:00am

  • Difficulty:

    Beginner

  • Min. Age:

    5

  • Deposit:

    100

Highlights

  • Explore dwellings and rock art from prehistoric cultures
  • Hike to a secluded swimming hole
  • 83 miles of gentle but exciting rafting for children, and inflatable kayaks
Getting Here Before You Go Packing List

Itinerary

Our itineraries can vary – it’s never boring out there!

Weather, the interests of your group, campsite availability, and seasonal water flows mean that every trip is unique. Here’s a sample itinerary for a possible five-day trip along the San Juan River.

 

Typical Itinerary

Day 1:

Meet in Blanding, Utah, and travel for 45 minutes to the Sand Island boat ramp. The fun starts right at the boat ramp as novice paddlers get an orientation to inflatable kayaks. The first challenge is Tiger Wall, a gorgeously striped sandstone outcrop that forces the river into a sharp right hand bend. Spend the afternoon exploring artifacts and structures left behind by five distinct indigenous cultures. Learn how to respectfully visit these sensitive, sacred places.

Day 2:

Float through Comb Ridge and see who’s the first to spot the dramatic peak of the Mule Ear rock formation. Navigate Eight Foot Rapid and slide under the bridge in the town of Mexican Hat. The river begins to descend quickly here, the sheer walls of the famous Goosenecks of the San Juan rising hundreds of feet above us.

Day 3:

Take advantage of the cool morning air to hike to the rim along the Honaker Trail, a remnant of a late 1800s gold rush. Earn panoramic views of the river canyon before climbing back down to cool off in the river. The water is smooth and fast today, with Ross and Johns Canyon rapids as fun interruptions. Pause for lunch on a beach and see who can submerge themselves the deepest in the famous San Juan mud.

Day 4:

Wake to the song of the canyon wren and get ready to navigate Government Rapid, the most challenging of the trip. The afternoon will give you a chance to meander up Slickhorn Gulch, a long, beautiful side canyon. Scrub off in the river before the hike: there’s a secret swimming hole and we don’t want to pollute it with the chemicals in our sunscreen. We’ll make our last night’s camp at the mouth of Slickhorn Gulch or another side canyon. If you haven’t slept out under the stars yet, tonight’s the night. You’re in one of the best possible places to see a truly dark sky.

Day 5:

Our last day on the water will be short but sweet. This final stretch will take us past Oljeto Wash, and maybe even up into the canyon itself. We’ll navigate through numerous sandbars, remnants of when Lake Powell was high enough to flood this section of river. The canyon walls will gradually fall away as we approach Clay Hills Crossing and our take-out point. Once off the river, we’ll travel in our vans for a scenic two-hour ride back to Blanding, Utah.

*Please note that you may also charter a three-day Upper Canyon, or four-day Lower Canyon youth trip. See our Upper San Juan and Lower San Juan trip pages for sample itineraries of three- and four-day trip

Please keep in mind that this is a sample itinerary and not an exact description of your trip. The intent is to give a general idea of what your trip may entail. Rest assured, if you’re not doing these things, it’s because you’re doing other amazing things! It’s why our motto is “Go With the Flow”!

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Holiday River Expeditions
Average rating:  
 3 reviews
by Jim on Holiday River Expeditions

We had a great time! The guides were wonderful, and the scenery was amazing.

by Olivia Jung on Holiday River Expeditions

The food was mind-blowing. Superlative! Ready to launch again down the rapids in a heartbeat!

by Julia & Jeff Fetzer on Holiday River Expeditions

The trip was wonderful, our kids had a great time and they were totally entertained! It was such a wonderful experience and a great trip and we will definitely be back for more trips in the future!