Float the San Juan

Do you want to make new friends before classes start? Do you enjoy the outdoors? If you answered YES to either of these questions, then our Peak River Trip is for you. This is a multi-day river trip in which students will float during the day and camp outside next to the river under the stars.

Register today!

The trip is:

  • Optional, pre-orientation rafting trip for all first-year and transfer students.
  • Small group experience led by trained student leaders.
  • The foundation of your new community of friends, classmates, and campus life.
  • For all levels and abilities. No prior experience necessary.
  • Affordable. Full and partial financial assistance is available.

For more information, review the tabs below or contact Colt Fetters at 970-247-7293 or cfetters@fortlewis.edu.

When: August 22-25, 2022
Where: San Juan River - Upper section from Bluff to Mexican Hat, UT
Number of students: 20
Student cost: $350

Students on a raft on the riverAs a participant on a PEAK River Trip, you will:

  • Raft for four days and three nights with a group of twenty incoming students and several student leaders through the San Juan River just outside Bluff, UT.
  • Pass innumerable archaeological sites, including a large ancestral Puebloan cliff dwelling referred to as River House. Butler Wash and Comb Wash, through which the Upper San Juan cuts, is often considered the richest archaeological region in North America. As you enter San Juan Canyon, you’ll navigate a few class II rapids to keep things spicy.
  • Learn the basics of a multi-day river trip.
  • Travel, camp, cook, and share adventures with your group.

These trips are open for all experience levels.

Students and staff pose next to the riverPeak Experience trips costs $350 and include the following:

  • Food
  • Transportation
  • Outdoor Equipment
  • Lodging when on campus
  • Access to your room for storage during the trip

Participants are responsible to bring appropriate clothing and footwear. Please contact us if you have questions.

Financial Assistance:

Substantial financial assistance is available for those who qualify. To apply, please complete the registration process, including the financial assistance application. This will hold your space on the trip. We will review applications on a rolling basis. You will be notified no later than June 15 if you qualify for assistance. 

**Cancellation Policy**

  • An administrative fee of $50 will be assessed for any cancellation
  • The full trip amount is forfeit if canceled less than 30 days before trip departure
  • The OP membership is forfeit upon cancellation
  • If the canceled spot is filled, the full amount will be refunded, minus the $50 Administrative Fee

Float the San Juan Packing List


Bring clothes for on the water that can get wet, and warm comfortable clothes for at camp – it can get chilly at night, and sometimes it rains in the desert!

  • Synthetic T-shirts and/or sun hoody
  • Bathing suit and/or synthetic shorts
  • Visor or wide brimmed hat or cap
  • Sunglasses with strap
  • River sandals, water shoes, or old running shoes (no flip flops on the river)
  • Bandanna or Buff
  • 1 liter/quart water bottle
Camp Clothes
  • T-shirt and or long sleeve shirt
  • Shorts and/or pants Sweater or sweatshirt Pajamas or sleeping clothes Socks Knitted hat Rain jacket and pants Lightweight hiking shoes


Individual camping equipment is not provided but can be arranged. Fort Lewis students can check equipment out free of charge.

  • Drybag*
  • Compact sleeping bag*
  • Sleeping pad*
  • Small tent*
  • Headlamp or flashlight
  • Any course/trip materials as specified by the group organizer (i.e. notebooks, books, tools, etc.)


  • Personal toiletries and medications
  • Sunscreen
  • Bug Repellent
  • Lotion
  • Chapstick
  • Waterproof case for cell phone or camera ($7 on Amazon!)


  • Small daypack
  • Binoculars
  • Personal snacks
  • Personal Beverages (i.e. soda, bubbly water, etc. Coffee, tea, and powdered drinks are provided)
  • Stand-up paddleboards/helmet or Inflatable kayaks*


  • Glass
  • Non-locking carabiners
  • Radios
  • Speakers
  • Firearms

Travel, Lodging & Logistics

Will there be a place for me to store all my things while on the trip?

Yes, you will be able to drop off any belongings not needed for the trip at your residence hall during your assigned time (to be announced).

When should I arrive?

  • If you’re flying, you should book your flight to arrive on Sunday.
  • If you’re driving, you can arrive on Sunday or Monday, depending on how far you’re coming from.
  • You will be assigned a check-in time from student housing, please be on the lookout for an email from them. 

How do I get to campus from the airport?

If you provide us with your flight information, we’ll pick you up at the airport for free.

Is there a place for me to stay on Sunday night? 

Yes, if you’re arriving on Sunday, students may “camp out” in the Student Life Center.

Will I be back in time for New Student and Family Orientation?

Yes, we return to campus by Thursday evening. This is perfect timing for checking in to New Student and/or Family Orientation.

When and where can I meet my family upon returning?

Any family or friends joining for move-in or Orientation can meet you upon your return and after equipment clean-up. Campus return times will be in the late afternoon on Thursday.  You will be notified of your return time prior to Peak beginning.

How many students are on Peak?

All groups consist of 20 incoming students and several student leaders.

If I’m over 21, can I bring marijuana or alcohol?

No, even if you can legally use either of these substances, neither are allowed on Fort Lewis College events.


What do I need to bring?

You are responsible for your personal clothing and footwear. Please download the packing list for all required personal equipment.

What if I don't have my own equipment?

OP has a full equipment room where you will be able to check out items such as backpacks, sleep bags, sleeping pads, etc. You are responsible for your personal clothing and footwear. See the packing list for more information.

Can I use my own pack/tent/etc.?

Yes, you are welcome to use any personal gear you wish (providing it is approved by your trip leader), but you will be responsible for any personal equipment you choose to bring.

Do I need to bring my own food or water?

No, we will provide food from Monday's lunch through Thursday's lunch. We will also provide water treatment systems when we’re in the field.

Can I bring my own pack?

Yes, but your pack must be at least 70 Liters and meet our staff approval, as you will have to fit food and group gear. Our rental packs are 90 Liters.

Should I bring my cell phone or emergency beacon device?

  • Cell phone and music player use is discouraged on trip and you will likely not have service anyway.
  • You are welcome to use your phone for photos if you wish, but should consider how to protect it from rain and use it in Airplane Mode to conserve the battery.
  • Please do not bring your own personal emergency beacon device, the groups will already be carrying a satellite communication device.

Route, Difficulty & Weather

What will the weather be like?

The weather can range from 70 degrees and sunny, to below freezing temps with rain and snow. Please read the packing list thoroughly to be prepared.

How far are we rafting?

The total route length is 27 river miles, with 4 days to cover this distance.

Environmental and Cultural Protection

The desert rivers of the southwest are a beautiful and fragile landscape which require care during our visit. A moments carelessness can have an impact on the environment that will last a lifetime. In addition, there are many sites and remnants of the land’s ancestral people that deserve special respect. Every FLOW program begins with the acknowledgement that the land and waters on which we gather are the ancestral lands and territories of Nuchu (Ute), Apache, the Pueblos, Hopi, Zuni, and the Diné Nation. We think it is important to provide this acknowledgment because the narratives of this land and region have long been told from one dominant perspective, without full acknowledgment of the tribes who lived on this land. While visiting cultural sites it is important to stay on established trails, and do not touch or deface petroglyph/pictograph panels or climb on archeological structures. The removal of artifacts such as pottery shards is illegal.

Specialized toilets, kitchen equipment, and fire pans and blankets are provided to minimize our impact on the river corridor. FLOW guides will instruct participants regarding Leave No Trace procedures for food and human waste, fires, camping and hiking.

Small Craft

Small crafts such as inflatable kayaks, stand up paddle boards, and pack rafts are welcome on most FLOW programs. Several inflatable kayaks and stand up paddleboards will be available to use during the trip.


Overnight Parking is permitted in the north end of the stadium lot.

Standard Operating Procedures

  1. Footwear: Shoes or sandals with a secure heel are to be worn at all times during any activity with the exception of white sand beaches free of rocks and other debris.
  2. Swimming: 1) All swimming activities must be closely supervised by FLOW Guides; 2) Students may not swim in moving water above their knees without a Personal Flotation Device (PFD); 3) Head first entry into the water is prohibited; 4) Swimming at night or areas with poor visibility is prohibited.
  3. Nudity: To protect the emotional safety/beliefs of all trip participants, nudity is prohibited.
  4. Tree Climbing: Tree climbing is prohibited.
  5. Rock Jumping: Water landings must be carefully scouted by FLOW Guides for adequate depth



Do I need to bring my own food or water?

No, we will provide food from Monday's lunch through Thursday's lunch. We will also provide water treatment systems when we’re in the field.

What will we be eating on trip?

Do you accommodate dietary restrictions or allergies?

Yes, we are able to accommodate a wide range of dietary restrictions and allergies. You may note these requirements in the registration process.

Can I bring my own snacks?

Yes, if you have a special snack you want to have, you’re welcome to bring it.

4-day San Juan River Sand Island to Mexican Hat Itinerary

River Miles: 27
Nights on the river: 3

The San Juan River from Sand Island to Mexican Hat travels past numerous historical archeological, and geologic sites including ancestral Puebloan ruins, petroglyph panels, abandoned mines and buildings, red rock canyons and formations.

Day 1

Travel from Durango to Sand Island Boat Ramp (2.5 hours). Upon arriving at the river, the group will put-in on the river and camp a couple miles downstream.

Day 2

The San Juan winds past numerous historical and archeological sites as it travels past Butler Wash. The highlight of these sites is the River House, a large ancestral Puebloan ruin. After Comb Wash, we enter San Juan Canyon. A few class II rapids dot the canyon as the red rock walls tower above.

Day 3

As we leave San Juan Canyon we enter the Mexican Hat Syncline. The river meanders 7 more miles to the take-out at Mexican Hat.

Day 4

With a quick morning float, we will arrive at Mexican Hat takeout. After a quick load-up in the early-afternoon we will start the three- hour drive back and arrive in Durango by late afternoon.

Student leaders make this program what it is! 

Peak Experinces leadersThey are:

  • Committed individuals who are at the heart of each and every trip.
  • Current and past Fort Lewis College students from all majors and disciplines.
  • Selected for their judgment and experience in the outdoors, as well as their personality and ability to work with groups.
  • Trained through a demanding outdoor leadership course that focuses on group dynamics, teaching techniques, decision making, risk management, backcountry travel, and Leave No Trace principles.
  • Certified in wilderness medicine, swift water rescue, and raft guiding.

For more information on our leaders and leadership program, visit the Student Outdoor Leadership (SOL) website.