San Juan River - Canyons and Cactus
This is an enchanting route - a fun, easy paddle through dramatic red-rock canyons. The river twists and turns through convoluted "goosenecks" as it drains from southern Utah before flowing into the Colorado River at Lake Powell. Most of the river is gentle current interspersed with simple rapids; but, there are a few challenging sets to test our skills.
Utah’s San Juan River is born as snow on Colorado’s mountains, eventually joining the Colorado River. Evidence of ancient inhabitants abounds - the basin was home to the Azanazi Culture, which flourished in the canyons and in sheltered areas. They were a semi-nomadic people, who are best known for their rock art, found on canyon walls and in sheltered overhangs. The river flows swiftly at a pace faster than you can jog! There are few rapids, though there are several class II and III to add excitement. As well, sand waves, a relatively rare phenomenon, can add surprise and excitement. The San Juan is suitable for both the novice and the experienced boater.
We suggest having previous paddling experience to enjoy the San Juan River, and basic canoeing and camping skills are recommended. There are no portages, and there is a constant current. Paddlers with more experience will still enjoy the variety of rapids, the fantastic canyon scenery, and the archeological sites that make the San Juan such a magical place. A reasonable fitness level will also allow you to complete all of the optional hikes.
Trip run by BLM licencee Moab Rafting and Canoe Company, Moab, Utah.
"Great interpretation, paddling and a fun group! Each day was so different, with fascinating things to see and do." Jim, British Columbia, Canada
Recommended Skill Level And Dates
Guides 5:1 ratio
• 7 nights of camping
• excellent trail meals and snacks - Day 2 lunch to Day 8 lunch
• fresh water
• limited wine with dinner
• paddles, PFDs, throw bags, bailers, etc.
• tents: free-standing, custom expedition dome tents - 2 per tent
• "kitchen": tarp, fire box, cooking stoves, utensils, dishes, etc.
• containers for food and group equipment
• river pack for your personal gear
• first aid, safety, river rescue, and repair kits
• communications equipment (satellite phone)
• ground transfers between Grand Junction (or Moab) and the San Juan River on Day 1 and Day 8
• transportation of guides, group gear, food, etc. to the trip
Trip Rendezvous Point: Moab Utah