26 miles from Sand Island to Mexican Hat
6 years old (Call us if you have younger explorer)
One day: 8am-4:30pm
$199 - Adults
$133 - 15/under
*Additional $10 BLM Permit
Our full day motorized rafting is the only possible way to see the entire upper canyon from Sand Island to Mexican Hat in a single day. You will get a taste of everything stopping at world class rock art sites, 1000 year old cliff dwellings and float through 350 million year old canyon walls. If you only have one day to spend in Bluff you definitely need to get on the San Juan.
- Large 18’ Motorized Raft
- Drybags for personal belongings
- Fresh lunch on the river bank
- Professional Certified Guides
- Transportation to and from the river
- View Wildlife – Birds and Bighorn Sheep
- Butler Wash Rock Art Panel
- River House Ruin
- Towering Canyon Walls
Easy to Moderate float. Class I and II Rapids. (One Class III Rapid.) Hikes up to 1 mile round trip on flat terrain – all hikes are optional.
- Swimsuit or clothing that will dry quickly.
- Water shoes or tennis shoes you can get wet and muddy.
- A small day pack
- A Reusable Water bottle for each person
- Sunglasses with Chums or neckband
We depart from Bluff at 8am, via Wild Expeditions vans, to the Sand Island launch ramp 4 miles west of Bluff. At the river, after safely packing away your cameras and sunscreen in dry bags, and a brief orientation on river safety, we’re off!
For the first few miles, the surrounding country is open. The river carries us past orange and black-streaked sandstone outcroppings. This was the home of the Ancestral Puebloan, an ancient desert farming culture who lived in this area eight to twenty centuries ago. Evidence of their time here is all around us in the remains of their dwellings and the art they carved in the smooth sandstone walls rising around us.
The Butler Wash petroglyph panel is our first stop. Only a few feet from the river’s edge, this broad panel is filled with mysterious images pecked by the early Ancestral Puebloan, the Basketmakers, some 1500 years ago.
Journeying a little further down river, we land again and make a quarter mile hike to “River House,” a Pueblo III style cliff dwelling. This structure has a small round kiva and several adjoining rooms tucked into a rock alcove. It is estimated to be about 800 years old. After we finish exploring this site we continue down the river and find a shady spot to eat our lunch, under the canopy of a cottonwood.
When our journey continues, the rock formations begin to take prominence as the river enters the Monument Upwarp, a giant wrinkle in the skin of the earth. Then we pass through the Comb Ridge Monocline and the Lime Ridge Anticline. The river here narrows and cuts a deep canyon into 300 million year old Pennsylvanian limestone, and the current quickens as small rapids and riffles rock the boat. Near “8-Foot Rapid,” the undulating pattern in the rock reveals the presence of “bioherms,” porous mounds in an ancient shallow sea that act as reservoir rock, “capturing” oil which is found in abundance in this area.
If we’re lucky, we may get a glimpse of several Desert Bighorn Sheep as they graze above us on narrow rock shelves or a beaver napping under a ledge. Mid-afternoon, we stop to look for fossils in the limestone.
As we near the end of our trip the river leaves the canyon and we pass beneath the balanced slab of “Mexican Hat” rock. Our next landing ends our river trip where vans are waiting to transport us back to Bluff, offering further opportunities to view the dramatic red rock of the Valley of the Gods and a very different passage through Comb ridge than our river trip allowed. We arrive back in Bluff around 5pm and our adventure has come to a finish.