Float the San Juan

A group of students and guides pose in front of a river in a canyon, with arms in the air.

Do you want to make new friends before classes start? Do you enjoy the outdoors? If you answered YES to these questions, then our Peak river trip is for you.

This is a multi-day river trip where you float the San Juan River during the day and camp outside next to the river under the stars. The trip is:

  • A 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!
  • Financial assistance is available for eligible students

When: August 19-24, 2023
Where: San Juan River - Upper section from Bluff to Mexican Hat, UT
Number of students: 20
Student cost: $350

Registration will open in April 2023.


Float the San Juan costs $350 and includes the following:

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

Participants are responsible for bringing appropriate clothing and footwear.

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 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

As 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 on 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. but participants must know how to swim.


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 when you move in on Saturday.

When should I arrive?

Peak move-in will run from 9:00 am – 12:00 pm on Saturday, August 19. It would be best to plan your travel to campus so that you arrive during this window.

How do I get to campus from the airport?

Roadrunner transport offers $8 shuttles from the Durango Airport to campus. Reservations can be made from their website.

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

Yes, we will return to campus on Thursday afternoon. This is perfect timing for moving into your room and 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 Orientation can meet you upon your return and after equipment clean-up. We will return to campus in the late afternoon on Thursday. 

How many students are on Peak?

Float the San Juan consists 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 is allowed on Fort Lewis College programs.


What do I need to bring?

You are responsible for your personal clothing and footwear. Check out our packing list.

What if I don't have my own equipment?

Outdoor Pursuits has a complete equipment room where you can check out items such as backpacks, sleeping 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 bring.

Can I bring my own dry bag?

Yes, but your dry bag must be large enough to fit all your personal equipment, clothing, and toiletries. We have dry bags you can borrow for free.

Should I bring my cell phone or emergency beacon device?

Cell phone and music player use is discouraged on Peak, and you will likely not have service anyway. You are welcome to use your phone for photos if you wish but consider how to protect it from rain and use it in Airplane Mode to conserve the battery.

Please do not bring your own emergency beacon device; the groups will already carry a satellite communication device.

Route, difficulty & weather

What will the weather be like?

The weather can range from daytime highs in the 80s to nighttime lows in the 50s, though higher and lower temperatures are possible, as well as rain. 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 that requires care during our visit. A moment of carelessness can have an impact on the environment that will last a lifetime. In addition, many sites and remnants of the land’s ancestral people deserve special respect. Every Float the San Juan program begins with the acknowledgment 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 DineĢ Nation. We think it is essential to provide this acknowledgment because the narratives of this land and region have long been told from one dominant perspective without fully acknowledging the tribes who lived on it. While visiting cultural sites, it is crucial to stay on established trails and 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, fire pans, and blankets are provided to minimize our impact on the river corridor. FLOW guides Trip Leaders will instruct participants regarding Leave No Trace low-impact procedures for food and human waste disposal, 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 during the trip.


Overnight parking is permitted at the north end of the stadium lot.

Standard operating procedures

Footwear: Shoes or sandals with a secure heel are to be worn at all times during any activity, except for white sand beaches free of rocks and other debris.


  1. Trip Leaders FLOW Guides must closely supervise all swimming activities
  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

Nudity: To protect the emotional safety/beliefs of all trip participants, nudity is prohibited.

Tree climbing: Tree climbing is prohibited.

Rock jumping: Trip Leaders FLOW Guides must carefully scout water landings for adequate depth.


Do I need to bring my own food or water?

No, we will provide food and water from Sunday’s lunch through Thursday's lunch.

What will we be eating on the trip?

Our groups will fuel their adventures with delicious, nutritious meals. We pack plenty of food so no one will go hungry.

Do you accommodate dietary restrictions or allergies?

Yes, we can accommodate a wide range of dietary needs and allergies. Please identify these needs 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.

Float the San Juan Packing list

Packing list

Unless otherwise noted, all items below are required to keep you and your group safe and comfortable while on the river. Summer in the desert will likely have hot days and cool nights, and it sometimes rains. Anticipate getting wet on the river.

Download printable list

* denotes items available to rent for free from Outdoor Pursuits


  • 2 synthetic t-shirts and/or sun hoody
  • 1 bathing suit and/or synthetic shorts
  • 1 visor or wide-brimmed hat or cap
  • 1 pair of sunglasses with a strap
  • 1 pair of river sandals, water shoes, or old running shoes (no flip-flops on the river)
  • 1 bandanna or Buff
  • 1 liter (32 oz) water bottle

Camp clothes

  • 1 t-shirt and/or long sleeve shirt
  • 1 pair of shorts and/or pants
  • 1 sweater or sweatshirt
  • 1 set of sleeping clothes
  • 2 pairs of socks
  • 1 warm hat

Camping equipment

  • 1 large drybag*
  • 1 compact sleeping bag*
  • 1 sleeping pad*
  • 1 small tent*
  • 1 headlamp or flashlight

Personal items

  • Personal toiletries (toothbrush, toothpaste, etc.)
  • Medications, glasses, contacts, and menstrual products as needed
  • Sunscreen
  • Bug Repellent
  • Lotion
  • Chapstick
  • Waterproof case for cell phone or camera ($7 on Amazon!)

Optional items

  • Small daypack
  • Binoculars
  • Journal, book, field guides
  • Camera

Things not to bring

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

5-day San Juan River itinerary: Sand Island to Mexican Hat

River miles: 27
Nights on the river: 3, plus 1 night at the boat ramp before getting on the river

The San Juan River from Sand Island to Mexican Hat travels past numerous historical archeological and geologic sites, including ancestral Puebloan sites, 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, we will prepare the boats to launch, set up camp at the campground, and enjoy our first night together. 

Day 2
After packing up camp, we will explore a few ancestral Puebloan rock art sites before starting our float downstream. The first day will take us past numerous historical and archeological sites as it travels past Butler Wash. The highlight of these sites is the River House, a prominent ancestral Puebloan dwelling. 

Day 3
After Comb Wash, we enter San Juan Canyon. A few class II rapids dot the canyon as the red rock walls tower above.

Day 4
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 5
After a 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 late afternoon. The group will work together to clean up and put away equipment.

Trip leaders

Student leaders make this program what it is! They are:

  • Committed individuals who are at the heart of 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 in a demanding outdoor leadership course focusing on group dynamics, teaching techniques, decision-making, risk management, backcountry travel, and outdoor ethics.
  • Certified in wilderness medicine, swift water rescue, and raft guiding.

Learn more about our Student Outdoor Leadership program.

Other PEAK programs

Contact us

Orientation Office

171 Student Union
Phone: 970-247-7090
Fax: 970-247-7487
Email: orientation@fortlewis.edu

Bruce Saxman
FLOW coordinator
Email: bpsaxman@fortlewis.edu
Phone: 970-247-6317