San Juan River Rafting
The colors of the San Juan River near Mexican Hat, Utah
The San Juan river is a fun desert float in Southern Utah that can be run in 2 to 7 days depending on where you put in and take out. Most trips launch at either Sand Island or Mexican Hat and take-out at Mexican Hat or Clay Hills. Sand Island to Mexican Hat is about 27 miles and most boaters take two to three days to float this segment. Mexican Hat to Clay Hills is approximately 57 miles and is typically a four- to five-day trip. Sand Island to Clay Hills is about 84 miles and is typically a six- to seven-day trip. The water on the San Juan is dam controlled and is best floated above 1,000 cfs if you intend to take rafts. Inflatable kayaks are a great option on the San Juan because they are more maneuverable at low flows and they make the class II to III rapids more exciting. The biggest rapid is Government Rapid, which is class III. It is rocky at low flows and tricky for rafts, but very fun in inflatable kayaks. The water on the San Juan is murky and as it gets close to Lake Mead, sediment channels start to appear that can be tricky to navigate at low water. The hikes along the San Juan are short and fun, and highlight archaeological sites and geological features. This is a great river for families and for people looking for a sunny and mellow float.
Permits to float the San Juan are controlled through a lottery. For more info check out our Permit Lottery for Rafting Western Rivers 2017 Guide.