San Juan River from Sand Island to Mexican Hat

October on the San Juan, as compared to most other rivers, is prime time season. Low eighties for a high with nights hovering around forty. Cottonwoods just starting to change color. Even the flow was decent at 950 CFS vs the drought level 400's of the past few seasons. Close to perfect with even the water being green and fairly clear which is rare. Which is why the launch calendar was running full. Managed to snag a 2-person permit which was the only launch available for several days. Mark Foster supposed to go but the timing didn't work so it was a solo venture.

Valerie Lee (435-669-3592) provided the shuttle for $70 and it was non-eventful. Have used Valles for the Sand Island to Mexican Hat shuttle the last few years. The upside to Valles is that your vehicle is always waiting in their parking lot. The downside is the extra round-trip required to personally drive your vehicle to that lot before being driven back to Sand Island. Valerie drives your vehicle to the ramp when you request it, so taking out a day early not a good option. Valles is more time consuming but less restrictive and is essentially a taxi service.

Cannot recall another San Juan trip without at least one major hike or scheduled layover. The goal for this trip was to float, not oar, three relaxed days and enjoy the scenery/river. Food prep was at an absolute minimim as was supplemental gear. I really enjoyed the simplicity of this trip. Often my trips lately have been more like work than a river adventure. Homage to the past was paid.

Highlights of the trip were bighorn, watching a large flock of turkeys fly across the river, visiting several times with the young couple in their solo borrowed raft, and a closeup encounter with three of the many mules encountered prior to entering the canyon. Especially solo, seems like sitting around in the evening I have overstayed my San Juan welcome but this was a nice one. Hopefully not my last but would not be surprised.

Click images to view trip report details.

Trip report image
USGS flow link image