The Lower San Juan River down to Clay Hills Crossing and the slackwater of Powell Reservoir is a classic western float trip and a great run for families. The river is characterized by some truly impressive canyon scenery, plenty of great camping, and some cool side hikes. Many groups take rafts, but this is also a popular canoe trip. Permits for river runners are distributed annually by the Bureau of Land Management through a lottery system. While most camps are on river right, some camps are on river left and since these lands south of the river are part of the Navajo Reservation, a permit from the Navajo Nation Parks and Recreation Department is required for overnight use (put in your permit request well in advance of your trip). Flows are often best in the spring which typically corresponds to comfortable hiking weather, but many groups come to enjoy the river during the early summer. The usual rules for desert river trips apply and you can expect to have your gear inspected at the put-in. This means you will need to bring a toilet, fire pan, and ample drinking water (the sediment laden river water would not be easy to filter and tributaries are typically dry creek beds).
A class II rapid immediately below the put-in.
Formed by a debris fan originating from the canyon on river left. Scout from river left.
Largely gone due to backwater effect of Powell Reservoir.
Waterfall downstream of Clay Hills Crossing where the river has cut a new course through the silt of Powell Reservoir.
The USGS Gauge for the San Juan Near Bluff reflects the releases from the dam on the Navajo Reservoir, located in northwestern New Mexico near the Colorado border and the natural flow of the Animas River out of Colorado. For up to date levels and info on releases from the Navaho Reservoir contact Pat Page of the US BLM:
Phone # (970) 385 6560
We have no additional detail on this route.
Use the map below to calculate how
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flash flooding on the San Juan
muddy waters of Government
Clay Hills Crossing
Lower San Juan
IK Run Through Government Rapid
Raft Run Through Government Rapid
Scouting Government Rapid
Boating on the San Juan
Rafting on the San Juan
Highway Bridge at Mexican Hat
Gypsum Creek Rapid
Mexican Hat Access
Adam Goshorn runs Goverment Rapid on the San Juan, UT
Grand Gulch flood
clay hills falls
Family Raft on San Juan
View from Goosenecks State Park
San Juan Putin
John's Canyon Rapid
If someone gets hurt on a river, or you read about a whitewater-related injury, please report it to
American Whitewater. Don't worry about multiple submissions from other witnesses, as our safety
editors will turn multiple witness reports into a single unified accident report.
Colorado River Basin - American Whitewater is asking for paddler input on flows and recreation quality for rivers across the Southwestern United States. We are gathering this information to help define recreational flow-needs, and to inform the US Bureau of Reclamations' Colorado River Basin Supply and Demand Study. Whether you live in Boston, San Francisco, or Jensen, UT, your input will help AW protect healthy rivers - TAKE OUR SURVEY TODAY!
This week, President Obama declared the Bears Ears region of southeast Utah a National Monument, permanently protecting this incredible region that includes the San Juan River. American Whitewater is especially proud to announce that the National Monument Proclamation specifically acknowledges whitewater paddling as an appropriate and valued recreation activity.
Take action today using our easy online form to protect National Monuments designated under the Antiquities Act! A public comment period began on May 12th and ends July 10th for an April 26th Executive Order which directed Interior Secretary Zinke to conduct a review of all Presidential designations over the past 21 years. A number of Monuments being reviewed are of significant interest to paddlers and provide protections for cherished whitewater stretches, including Bears Ears (Lower San Juan River, UT), Grand Canyon-Parashant (Colorado River, Grand Canyon, AZ), Giant Sequoia National Monument (Tule River, CA), Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument (East Branch of the Penobscot River, ME), Rio Grande del Norte National Monument (Rio Grande, Taos Boxes, NM) and many more.
American Whitewater sprang out of the need to rally our community around our shared love for whitewater, to protect, restore and celebrate the rivers that have given us so much. When the President of the United States, announced his intentions to reduce in size Bears Ears National Monument by 85% and Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument by nearly half, we wanted to first see how the new borders would affect the protections these Monuments afforded several spectacular whitewater resources within their current boundaries. Read on to see how the Lower San Juan and several other rivers are affected.
American Whitewater staff traveled to Green River, UT in late March to meet with private water users and state agencies, and to participate in the official opening of the new boat passage through the Green River Diversion (Tusher Dam). Completion of the boat passage has freed the Green River from its last in-stream obstruction between the Flaming Gorge Dam and the confluence with the Colorado River – over 400 floatable river miles through iconic canyons and historic landmarks. It has a been a long process, and our work isn’t over yet! As your boating representative, American Whitewater will continue to work closely with the dam operators and Utah’s Division of State Lands (FFSL) to ensure that the boat passage meets the needs of the public during its inaugural year.
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