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San Juan River

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San Juan Mountain, North New Mexico, Lake Powell
San Juan River
River Length
400 miles


A major tributary of the Colorado River, the San Juan arises in southwestern Colorado and joins the Colorado River near Lake Powell. Excellent fishing and rafting can be found as the river winds through spectacular desert country.

Almost certainly one of the most unique rivers in the United States, the San Juan river begins high in the San Juan Mountains in Colorado, before flowing south into New Mexico. Some of the best fishing on the entire river can be found on this stretch, near Aztec, NM. As the San Juan crosses the southwest desert, major tributaries include the Animas, Chaco, and Chinle Creek. The river meanders through goosenecks, sometimes progressing over five miles over a single straight mile, passing countless ancient Native American ruins. Near Clay Hills, Utah, the San Juan River joins the Colorado River at Lake Powell, forming what is know as the San Juan are.

See complete coverage of the San Juan River, including Rafting guides and outfitters, area lodging, and more.


As the San Juan River flows down from the San Juan Mountains in southern Colorado, it passes through the town of Pagosa Springs and some excellent mountainous and forested terrain for whitewater rafting.

The San Juan River west of Mexican Hat runs through the renowned gooseneck area and its towering canyon walls. You'll pass numerous side canyons on your way to Clays Hill Crossing at the eastern tip of Lake Powell.

The San Juan River cuts through beautiful canyon country west of Bluff. The most popular trip is the 26 mile one or two day trip between Bluff and Mexican Hat. The rapids in this section are mild (ClassI-II), though they can grow to ClassIII during the spring runoff.

Mountains, desert, red rock canyon
River Length
400 miles
Rafting, fishing
Check locally for conditions
Nearest Town
Farmington, NM; Bluff, UT
Guides Available?
Camping Info
Many maintained and primitive campground.
Additional Details
Excellent whitewater rafting and fishing for the entire length.
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Farmington Farmington Farmington
Northwestern New Mexico is known by many as a magical place. Four Corners and the local Aztec Ruins are considered sacred ground for some and are fascinating to visit.
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