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Old 01-24-2007   #11
El Flaco's Avatar
Golden, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1984
Join Date: Nov 2003
Posts: 1,879

Lower part is more scenic and better camps. Slickhorn gulch is awesome as is Grand gulch. Top half is nice too. Easier shuttle.

DO NOT do lower half in early august. Sand bars on the last day will make your life hell for rafts if you're not running on runoff. Unless you're in kayaks or canoes, then go for it, but it will be slow and tough or impossible to do in 3.
That's almost always true for that time of year, although the first time I did it in '97 we lanched July 31st, and were lucky enough to catch a couple of far upstream rainstorms that brought the river level up to over 5k during the whole trip. (Mut- you'll remember the rainy summer that we could paddle the Animas above 1000 through the middle of September) The only downside was a flash flood on the last night that took a garbage cooler down to Lake Powell. Oops.

So, you can get lucky with the monsoons, but don't count on it. I've also spent an hour puching my 16' cat off a sandbar in March- would've been a better canoe / sea kayak trip.

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Old 01-24-2007   #12
gapers's Avatar
Not a river guide, Ft. FunK
Join Date: Feb 2004
Posts: 276
In my opinion I would def go below mexican hat. The goosenecks are sooooo badass! We launched on June 23 last year and it was only about 500CFS,went down everyday. Still has a good current to it though. Wouldn't do it below that though. We also left early that last morning to beat winds leavin the canyon. The monster sandbar dodging was toughest though. Its the crux of the whole 84mile trip.

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Old 01-25-2007   #13
gapers's Avatar
Not a river guide, Ft. FunK
Join Date: Feb 2004
Posts: 276
Another thing that surprised us was that we were expecting a brown,muddy river. It was actually a cool greenish color. Very cool
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Old 01-25-2007   #14
tango's Avatar
Denver, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2003
Join Date: Feb 2006
Posts: 690
i hiked into the goosenecks through slickhorn gulch and met a river trip at very low flow. the hike was great. very early spring, march i think. drove through a snowstorm to get there. the rafting was highly technical class 1 gearboat manuevering over sand. slickhorn is dope.
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Old 01-25-2007   #15
Join Date: Nov 2003
Posts: 246
If you have kids, Sand Island to Mex Hat would be my choice. While it is a fantastic float below MH, the silted part of the river is horrific at low waters. Plus the shuttle is much easier to MH and I would imagine that you want to spend as little time as possible in the car.
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Old 01-25-2007   #16
Boulder, Colorado
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 178
Bring a screen tent for the kids to hang in while you rig in case the skeeters are as bad as they were July 4, 1996. 6000 cfs. Biblically hot but awesome. I would say if you only had 3 nights and the kids are sub-teen, do the upper and relax. Easier shuttle, time to lounge, rig and see ruins, swim and enjoy it.
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Old 01-29-2007   #17
Tom Martin's Avatar
Flagstaff, Arizona
Join Date: Dec 2004
Posts: 818
San Juan Guide

Hi Mut and all, here's a shameless plug for the new San Juan Guide by Tom martin and Duwain Whitis. It's 81/2X14, has waterproof plastic pages, has all the camps named, located, and mileage listed, with hikes, topo maps, permit info, the whole deal for $22.95. You can check it out at:
Buy it at if you want your $ to help a river advocacy group.

Have a great trip, yours, Tom

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