San Juan Kayak trip

The San Juan River is one of the Southwest’s most extraordinary river trips containing  great rapids, spectacular scenery and Pre-Puebloean ruins.  The warm water also makes the San Juan River the ideal place to learn to paddle, polish existing skills or simply relax on the raft. This trip is a literal walk through time, geologically, geographically, and culturally. We spend ample time exploring the hidden side hikes, rock art, and ancient ruins of this magnificent river. 4 Corners Whitewater offers these trips in conjunction with Wild River Expeditions, a BLM permitted outfitter for the San Juan River.


  • Night Before Departure:You will meet at Wild Rivers in Bluff at 7:00 p.m. for the prelaunch orientation. Your trip leader will hand out waterproof bags and boxes. We can also supply sleeping bags, pads and tents, but be sure to reserve them in advance with our office.

  • Day One: In the morning the group departs in a Wild Rivers van from Bluff to the Sand Island Launch ramp four miles west of town. Here we will get fitted into our kayaks with our and start paddling downstream. After Kayaking 7 miles of scenic moving water we’ll arrive at River House, an 800-year-old cliff dwelling. You can spend time amid the round walls of a kiva where dried corn cobs remain with bits of pottery. This hike can be extended by exploring the nearby benchlands for more sites and another large kiva.Camp is pitched in the late afternoon on a sandy beach amongst the cottonwoods and giant sagebrush. The guides prepare dinner, complete with appetizers and dessert. Sunset and campfire, then it’s off to sleep in a tent or out under the stars.
  •   Day Two: First light finds the guides in the kitchen making coffee and fixing breakfast. Gear is repacked, the boats are loaded, then the float continues.The morning walk could include Chinle Wash, where painted rock art and cliff dwellings hide among the rock alcoves or we can just focus kayak skills and continue downstreamAt Mile 9 the river enters the “anticline” and the canyon walls rise up dramatically. The river narrows and the pace quickens as we get to paddle the biggest rapids of the trip “8ft”.Camp is made deep within the canyon where the limestone walls are full of fossils and a lively current murmurs against the rocks.
  •    Day Three: There is time after breakfast for fossil hunting. An undulating pattern to the rocks reveals the presence of “bioherms.” Porous mounds in an ancient shallow sea, they act as a reservoir rock to capture oil.The trip continues with more fun rapids, and great views. Desert bighorn sheep may appear along this stretch. The rocks tilt and canyon walls diminish as Mexican Hat Rock comes into view, a large red slab balanced on a small pedestal. there also a great surf wave here where we can practice the kayak skills we have learned along the way.The journey ends by 2 or 3 p.m. at the boat launch in the town of Mexican Hat, where Wild River’s vans will transport you back to Bluff.