Need info, San Juan River

I am planning a trip for next year (2006) on the San Juan River and seam to have a hard time finding good info. I purchased the “ San Juan River Guide “ it is great background info. I like to have more specific info on the river itself. Looking for trip reports, a source for a good river map, location of the Indian sites worth visiting. When is good time to go, spring , fall? Does one feel crowded on the river? Not familiar with sand waves, are they a hazard? Thinking of doing the 83 miles starting from Sand Island and do some hiking and visiting ruins on the way, how many days should I plan for? Any other info such as; shuttles, great camp sites, etc, would be greatly appreciated.


Sand Waves
A friend of mind did the San Juan and said he didn’t fing the sand waves to be hard at all. He’s an expert ww boater. The ruins are along the river. Didn’t make much sense to build them away from water.

I did it about 10 years ago. wonderful trip!!

That guide book you have with the maps is really all you need. Topos dont show as much info as they do but you can order topo maps online if you need them

BEst time to go is spring end of march or early part of april. Permits start Ap 1st so if you on before that you dont need a permit.

Contact the BLM in either Bluff or Blanding they can send you more info to.

We took 5 days. NOT enough time to hike. Take 8 or more if you can so you can do some of the major canyons and see lots of ruins and petroglyphs.

Make sure you stop at the mouth of Butler Creek the first day. Below and on the right is the largest petroglyph panel in the world. Over a hundred yards long and probably 5000 glyphs on it.

If you hike the indian rez side, contact the rez office prior for a permit. They will mail you all the info.

Sand wave? Heard of em but never saw any.

There is 5 major rapids that should be scouted.

They do shuttles out of Bluff at some lodge cant remeber the name but do a google search for lodges etc. I think if was something like the Recapture Inn or Lodge etc.

Make sure you hike the Honaker Trail to the top as well as Grand Gulch and even slickhorn canyons.


San Juan River
Thank you so much for the info

san juan stuff
I just did a 6 day trip from Mexican Hat to Clay Hills in July. First advice…don’t go in July. April or May would be my first choices. We actually had a fantastic, relaxing trip, but it was too hot for any side hikes (107-108 every day according to the ranger). If you do get a permit in the hotter months, bring umbrellas! They were a life-saver. As for guides, I had both the San Juan River Guide (Lisa Kearsley) and San Juan Canyons - A River Runners Guide (Don Bears). The San Juan Canyons was actually a little better at locating camps and better detail on the rapids. I did a 3 day trip from Sand Island to Mexican Hat about 6 years ago in October, and the hiking was great. I think there are more indian ruins and petroglyphs in that first section, but I’m a little biased considering I never got more than 20 yards from the river on the July trip.

As for camps, we had great ones on river right at Comb Wash, river right at mile 48, and river left just before John’s Canyon (we camped on the sand bar/island that would probably be under water at higher levels). As for the reserved campsites, Slickhorn D has a lousy beach (it is a steep and slippery bank), but the other Slickhorn camps looked decent. Slickhorm E is on the opposite side of the river from the canyon, so don’t stay there if you plan on hiking. Grand Gulch and Oljeto looked like great places to hike…get there early in the day or plan to leave late in the morning.

Don’t forget to scout rapids…I don’t remember much from the October trip in the upper section, but Ross and Government warranted scouts and Slickhorn rapid was non-existent in July. Be prepared to hustle at the take out. It may have better access at higher water levels, but in July, it had a steep, slippery (clay) bank with very little room for the 3 large groups all taking out about the same time. And don’t forget your Navajo Backcountry Permit for any activities on river left.