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Old 03-15-2014   #1
cedar city, Utah
Join Date: Mar 2008
Posts: 1,928
San Juan Shuttles Experiences

Hey Folks,

Maybe this isn't news to most folks but thought I would share my most recent experience with shuttle services on the San Juan (specifically Sand to Mexican Hat).

To be perfectly honest I cannot discourage folks from using Valles Trading Post enough. I tried making reservations the week before and was told they do not take them more than 24 hours in advance. I have never heard of such a business practice myself but forgot there were other viable options in the region. We called the day before and managed to get a name, date and time transferred but were unfortunately dropped as the cell service died. Which is the problem with this model of reservations as most of us are traveling the day before launching. We were unable to make contact with them again that day despite trying twice.

We arrived the day of our shuttle at the determined time only to be told that they did not book us because the call was dropped. That is frustrating enough. The unethical and unprofessional component is they lied to my face and told me I talked to his mom when in fact I talked to him (hard to confuse phone being handed off to a male). I don't take being lied to in such a blatant way very well. On top of it he had no concern over the situation and offered no help in finding alternate solutions.

After 3 such experiences over 6 years I would rate them as highly suspect, unprofessional and a shady business. I personally will be looking for alternate locations to park my automobile in the future for that stretch of river.

On the other hand, we used Jim Harden 2 years ago with great success and total appreciation. I would have used him this time but had lost his contact information and did not see it on the 2 sites I searched online. Jim went above and beyond with service when we had a medical problem halfway through our trip and provided a ride for this friend from Mexican Hat to Bluff free of charge out of the kindness of his heart. Locals seem to trust him without reservation. I cannot recommend him enough now that I know he is still in business, contact information here:

san juan river shuttles
Jim Hardin....(435)672-2455

As well, 2 first person sources have stated with confidence that drivers for Valles have been found to have drivers shuttling vehicles inebriated. Their current employment with said company is unknown. I do not believe it was a common experience but the time and description were explicit enough to trust. Years ago my friend had their truck rolled while being shuttled (not on the Juan) and the insurance company refused to ever allow them to use a shuttle service ever again. It would be devastating for any of us to lose our rig or option of running rivers with our trucks. And this does not include the potential for loss of life that is common with DUIs.

I do not take passing on this information lightly as businesses are at stake but I think it becomes on obligation to pass on information like this that has followed such an unfortunate trend. Isolated incidents are one thing but years of problematic and potentially dangerous business practices are another. It is my hope that no one else experiences such issues anytime in the future.

Safe Travels.


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Old 03-15-2014   #2
Lake City, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1990
Join Date: Mar 2009
Posts: 128
Jim is the only way to go. We have used him for the last four years and have no complaints. I will be seeing him next weekend.

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Old 03-15-2014   #3
cedar city, Utah
Join Date: Mar 2008
Posts: 1,928
In re-reading I should state the issue of inebriation more precisely:

Drivers for Valles went to work drunk but it is uncertain if they drove vehicles, as the witnesses never saw the delivery of said vehicles. Would correct original post but waited too long.

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Old 03-15-2014   #4
dryfly's Avatar
U not daho, Idaho
Paddling Since: noon
Join Date: Jan 2011
Posts: 70
Jim Harden is the man for shuttles on the SJ. Pleasure doing business with him!
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Old 03-15-2014   #5
NE, Oregon
Join Date: Jul 2013
Posts: 52
Another one for Jim

I like that he came to the put-in, inspected vehicles and gave some solid advice about camping on a rising SJ
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Old 03-17-2014   #6
Placitas, New Mexico
Paddling Since: 1989
Join Date: Mar 2011
Posts: 40
Jim Harden is spot on.
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Old 03-18-2014   #7
Oslo's Avatar
Niwot, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1993
Join Date: Feb 2009
Posts: 58
Parking @ Mexican Hat

We're launching in a couple of weeks for a Sand Island - Mexican Hat trip. We're dropping our own shuttle. I've read of break-in issues at the take-out and that you should park at Valle's for ~$4 a day. Is this still good advice?

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Old 05-13-2014   #8
Denver, 80221
Paddling Since: 2011
Join Date: Mar 2010
Posts: 8
Extremely helpful! Big crew running Sand Island to Mexican Hat 5/24-5/26. Hopefully Jim is available..... having a hard time getting him on the phone.
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Old 05-13-2014   #9
Grand Junction, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1990
Join Date: Mar 2009
Posts: 39
I booked a shuttle six weeks ago with Jim for a our May 17 launch, talked with him to add another vehicle four weeks ago. Jim said call him ~ a week before launch to finalize when we'll be ready at Sand Wash. I've been calling him since Sat, left messages but no return call from him. Hope everything is OK. I'm getting ready to have a self shuttle back up plan if needed.
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Old 05-13-2014   #10
JagDaddy's Avatar
Snowflake, Arizona
Paddling Since: 1975
Join Date: Apr 2014
Posts: 23
We use Jim. He's hard to get a hold of because cell phones are all but useless anywhere near the the San Jaun river and he's always in his truck or van

Last trip we did April/May we just found him at Sand Island and squared things up on the rigging beach. Look for a big mustache driving a maroon Ford dually pick-up.

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