San Juan River Youth Trips

About This Trip

The San Juan River offers panoramic vistas and fast-moving white water rapids. This is a great 3, 4 or 5 day rafting trip for your youth group. With numerous warm-water rapids and polished limestone swimming pools, the San Juan River delivers an unforgettable experience.
This white water rafting trip takes us through unique Pueblo Indian dwellings, where we will view ruins and petroglyphs left by ancient civilizations.  From the diverse animal and plant life to the extraordinary geological features, the San Juan River is always a favorite whitewater vacation for youth.


  • Explore slickrock and prehistoric Indian ruins
  • Classic Southern Utah desert environment, warm water
  • 83 miles of perfect rafting for children and inflatable kayaks
he first time I went down the San Juan was with a group of boatmen. It was hard to read the map because the scenery was so amazing . . . the water was moving so fast. It made us dizzy because our heads were busy snapping from one side of the river to the other to see the next scenic attraction.
 -Dee Holladay, Holiday River’s 1975 Reconnaissance Trip
One of the advantages of a river trip is the flexibility of the daily itinerary. It can vary widely from one trip to the next based on group desires, Mother Nature, and courtesy for other groups on the river. This typical itinerary illustrates a four-day trip on the San Juan River. The three and four day itineraries vary based on the seasonal water flows in May and June. For specifics on your trip’s date and itinerary please ask your reservationist.

Day One: Begin your adventure in Blanding, Utah and spend a 45 minute breathtaking ride to Sand Island put-in.  Spend the day encountering sign after sign of 5 distinct cultures of indigenous ancestor’s presence in the form of pictographs, petroglyphs and hand-carved steps in the canyon walls. Investigate elegantly designed Ancestral Puebloan ruins before descending through Comb Ridge.

Day Two: 
Pass through the settlement of Mexican Hat before traversing the famed Goosenecks of the San Juan.  Take an optional hike to the 1894 prospector cabin of infamous gold prospector Walter Mendenhall. Rest easy this evening after hiking the Honaker Trail, a relic of the “1892 gold rush”.  The reward for those who put forth this 1200-foot vertical effort is an unforgettable view of Monument Valley.
Day Three: 
This morning you will float through layered canyons, play in good clean mud and take in the depths of the serpentine canyon walls. Take a ride through Ross rapid and find camp in the paradox walls below.

Day Four: The morning will bring Government Rapid. The afternoon will give you a chance to meander up  Slickhorn Gulch, one of the most celebrated side canyons along the Colorado river drainage. The trail will take you to a hidden grotto and swimming hole. We will make camp at one of the iconic side canyons nestled in this lower drainage.

Day Five:  This final stretch could lead us to peer inside Oljeto Wash and its magical side canyon and continue across what remnants of  “Lake” Powell to the take out at Clay Hills Crossing.  You will transfer to a two-hour scenic van ride back to Blanding, Utah.

*Please note if you would like to charter a 3 Upper Canyon or 4 day Lower Canyon San Juan we can accommodate that as well! 

As mentioned earlier, this is a sample itinerary and should not be thought of as the 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!

Trip Meeting Options:
3-day, Mexican Hat to Clay Hills and 4-day, Sand Island to Clay Hills

1. Groups providing their own transportation can camp the night before the rafting trip at the Sand Island boat ramp/campground (about 10 minutes west of Bluff on Hwy 191). The Sand Island campground has five areas with tables and fire pits and two RV sites. The toilets are the vault type and there is no running water. Campsites are on a first come, first serve basis.
2. We will meet at the Sand Island boat ramp or Mexican Hat boat ramp at 8:00 a.m. the morning of the trip. At the end of the trip, the group will need to be picked up at Clay Hills Crossing near Lake Powell, (or Mexican Hat for 3-days). This trip involves 60 minutes of driving on a dirt road.
3. You can arrange a shuttle for your vehicle (s) to the take out. Your Holiday representative can help assist you with arranging this.
Beginning of the River Rafting Trip: On the morning of your rafting trip, plan to arrive promptly at the predetermined time.

Beginning of the River Rafting Trip: On the morning of your rafting trip, plan to arrive promptly at the predetermined time.

After the Rafting Trip: This rafting trip will be off the water between 2:00 and 3:00 p.m. on the final day. The take-out point is Clay Hills Crossing for 3 & 5 Day trips and Mexican Hat for 4 day trips.

Medical emergencies: Our guides are trained in first aid and carry first aid supplies only. REMEMBER to bring your own prescription medicines. ALERT our guides to any medical problem you might have such as diabetes or allergic reactions. Wilderness expeditions are a long way from hospitals, doctors, and pain-relieving medicines. Evacuations to modern medical care are uncertain, and protracted.  In case of evacuation and/or medical treatment beyond first aid, expenses incurred are the responsibility of the participant.

Cancellation Policy: If cancellations are made prior to 90 days before the trip, monies will be refunded less a $50.00 service charge per person. If cancellations are made within 90 days and outside of 60 days of the trip date monies will be refunded less a $100.00 service charge per person. Cancellations made within 60 days of the trip date are non refundable. Prior to 60 days to the trip date we will transfer reservations to another trip in the same year with a $25.00 service charge per person. All policies will be enforced and we strongly recommend trip cancellation insurance. Cancellation of a trip is very unlikely, but we reserve the right to cancel any trip due to river or weather conditions or the lack of sufficient reservations. A full refund will be made if such is the case.

Insurance: Medical Evacuation and cancellation insurance on a vacation plan can be obtained from numerous insurance companies. You should be aware that medical evacuations in the backcountry can easily cost $10,000 and up.  You are responsible for these potential expenses and we strongly encourage all guests to have this coverage. We offer plans by TRAVEL GUARD that cover evacuation, baggage and cancellation claims. It is available to American and Canadian citizens, as well as citizens of another country as long as you have a U.S. address. For a quote or questions give us a call or include Your Names, Birth Dates in an Email and we will send a quote.  Also, if you are bringing expensive cameras, binoculars, or other items we suggest you have insurance coverage for them (commonly available through Homeowners Policies). In the event of a loss, our insurance will not cover those items.

Tipping the guides: If you feel the guides have been instrumental in your enjoyment of the trip, you may choose to direct a gratuity to the trip leader in the form of cash or check.  They will then distribute it evenly to the other crewmembers.  The average contribution amount ranges between $20.00 and $30.00 per guest, per day. Cash is the preferred method of tipping.

Beverages: We provide ice water, lemonade, one soda per day per person and ample cooler space. If you choose to bring any specialty sodas and we have no problem taking whatever you want to bring – within reason.

If you have any questions prior to leaving for your trip, we welcome you to call our Salt Lake City office, Monday through Friday at 800-624-6323 (outside Utah) or 801-266-2087 (inside Utah). We’re happy to take the time to answer your questions. You may also contact us by email at [email protected]


San Juan Weather: In May, June and July the daytime temperatures are 80 to 100 degrees, with nighttime temperatures 50 to 75 degrees. This is the time of year that swimming in the river becomes a popular activity.  This seems hot, but remember the humidity is very low.  There will be an abundance of sun, so bring a hat and plenty of suntan lotion and/or sunscreens. *Please avoid spray on sun-screen for the health and safety of your guide and fellow-guests

Bugs, snakes, etc. are generally no problem.  In fact, the lack of pesky insects is one of the reasons wilderness camping on the river is so pleasant.  Any river trip, however, is subject to an occasional localized insect hatch.  During these hatches (most common in June) mosquitoes can be bothersome.  Be sure to bring long sleeve clothing and repellent.  Insect repellents that contain “deet” are by far the most effective during heavy hatches.  Citronella-based products work only in light hatches.  We rarely see any snakes, but if the thought of them bothers you, try sleeping on the beaches or in a tent instead of rocky or bushy areas.

Hiking is a highlight of the trip, however, it is strictly an optional activity. There are many interesting short hikes available. Hiking can be done in durable sneakers or lightweight hiking boots. Remember that hiking and other activities vary widely pending time, and what other plans are ahead for the day on the river.

Things to see in the area: The Edge of the Cedars Anasazi Museum & State Park, Natural Bridges National Monument, Bears Ears National Monument including Dark Canyon Wilderness area, Comb Ridge and Grand Gulch Wilderness area; La Sal and Henry Mountains, Newspaper Rock, Hovenweep National Monument, Monument Valley, Navajo National Monument, San Juan Goosenecks State Park, Mesa Verde National Park.

Reading material, you may enjoy:

San Juan River Guide Lisa Kearsley………………………………………………… $17.95

Life in Stone Christa Sadler……………………………………………………………. $11.95

The Educated Outlaw Harvey Lay Murdock (Grandson)…………………….. $10.95

These books can be ordered online at, or by sending  the appropriate amount listed above plus $5.60 priority shipping to Holiday River Expeditions, 544 East 3900 South, SLC UT 84107. This is available within the U.S. only. If outside the U.S. additional shipping and handling charges will be added. You can call 801-266-2087 for rates.

Trip Overview

Location: San Juan River
Type: Rafting
Length: 3 – 5 Days
Dates: May – June
Meet At: Bluff or Mexican Hat, UT
Rating: Beginner
Age Min: 5
Deposit: $300

Trip Prices

Up to 50% OFF

Please call for pricing 800-624-6323

Departure Dates

3 Day Trip Dates

May 11,18
June 1,15

4 Day Trip Dates

May 6, 13, 20, 27
June 3, 10, 17

5 Day Trip Dates

May 11,18
June 1,15

Check Availability

What’s Included

Life Jacket
Large Waterproof Bag
Day Bag
Camp Chair
Eating Utencils & Plates
Full Course Meals: Lunch the first day through
lunch the last day
Drinks: Ice Water, Lemonade, Juices

The day bag 8″ diameter x 20″ high is for items you will need access to during the day. For your sleeping gear and clothing, we will furnish you with one bag 16″ diameter x 2 feet high. When properly sealed, bags are usually waterproof. Once in a while, one could develop a leak, so we always recommend packing important items in ziplock bags and leaving expensive electronics at home. Separate storage is provided for tents and beverages. Please remember to keep your gear light and compact. The less you bring, the happier you will be. Please limit gear to no more than 15-20 lbs.

What’s NOT Included

Plastic mugs work well
Water Bottle
Not included in the rental kit
Sleeping Bag
Compact and warm
Poncho/Rain Suit
high quality important for Dinosaur & Desolation trips.
Sleeping Pad/Air Mattress
Compact, must fit in the provided bag
Light Tent:
Back packer style, not the bulky, heavy types

You can rent most of the items listed above in our sleeping rental kit. We offer two varieties, our basic sleeping kit which includes a sleeping bag, sleeping pad, rain gear and cup for $40.00, or the same basic sleeping kit with a two-person tent for $65.00. Rentals must be reserved in advance, especially on the San Juan trips where we meet away from our headquarters. Rentals requested the morning of the trip are subject to availability. Cups and water bottles available for purchase at our stores in Green River and Vernal Headquarters, or online.


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