Two kayakers paddle flat water on the San Juan River. Photo by Sue Cullumber and the Share the Experience Photo Contest.

San Juan River Permits

A permit is required year-round to float any section of the San Juan River between Montezuma Creek and Clay Hills in southeast Utah. Permits are only issued through a pre-season lottery and advance reservations to individuals 18 and older. Do not show up at the launch ramp without a permit expecting to launch or join another group. The maximum group size is 25 people. No pets are allowed (service animals, as defined under the ADA, must be preauthorized by the Monticello BLM River Office prior to arrival).

How to Obtain a Permit

The San Juan River permit lottery and reservations are now available to book online. The process for obtaining a permit varies depending on the launch date of your desired trip:

Trips Launching Jan. 1 - April 14

Launch reservations may be reserved in advance beginning December 1 at 8:00 a.m. (Mountain Time). Full payment of per person permit fees and a $6 non-refundable transaction fee must be made at the time of transaction in order to book a permit. Please read the refund policy carefully before submitting payment. There are no per person permit fees for trips launching prior to March 1, however, the $6 transaction fee still applies. Cancellations will be made available to other boaters within 24 hours of the cancellation.

Trips Launching April 15 - July 15

Launch reservations are initially issued through a permit lottery. Remaining available launch dates and launch cancellations are then issued through advance reservations.

  • Lottery: Lottery applications for San Juan River permits will be accepted from December 1 to January 31 at 11:59 p.m. (Mountain Time) at the San Juan River recreation.gov page. There is a $6 non-refundable transaction fee to apply. Applicants will be notified of the lottery results on their Recreation.gov accounts and via email on February 14. Successful applicants must accept and pay the per person permit fees for their awarded reservation by March 15 at 11:59 p.m (Mountain Time). Please read the refund policy carefully before submitting payment. Unaccepted reservations and cancellations will made available to other boaters starting March 16.
  • Advance Reservations: Following the lottery, available launches and cancellations may be reserved in advance at the San Juan River recreation.gov page beginning March 16 at 8:00 a.m. (Mountain Time). Full payment of per person permit fees and a $6 non-refundable transaction fee must be made at the time of transaction in order to book a permit. Please read the refund policy carefully before submitting payment. Cancellations made on or after March 16 will be made available to other boaters within 24 hours of the cancellation.
Trips Launching July 16 - Dec. 31

Launch reservations may be reserved in advance beginning March 16 at 8:00 a.m. (Mountain Time). Full payment of per person permit fees and a $6 non-refundable transaction fee must be made at the time of transaction in order to book a permit. Please read the refund policy carefully before submitting payment. There are no per person permit fees for trips launching on or after November 1; however, the $6 transaction fee still applies. Cancellations will be made available to other boaters within 24 hours of the cancellation.

River Safety

It's always a good idea to know before you go. Check out the tips below to have a safe and fun experience on the San Juan River.

Prepare.
  • Tell someone where you are going, when you expect to return, and where to call if you don't.
  • Be sure your white water skills and experience are equal to the river and the conditions. NEVER BOAT ALONE.
Bring the right gear.
  • A properly sized whitewater type I, III, or V personal floatation device (PFD) or lifejacket is required on the San Juan. Type II lifejackets are permissible under Utah state law, but the BLM strongly advises against the use of type II lifejackets.
  • If you are traveling with children, know how to properly fit their lifejacket.
  • Reduce injuries by wearing protective foot wear and proper clothing designed for river running.
  • Carry a first aid kit and know how to use it. Learn or review medical aid responsibilities and CPR.
Know what to do in an emergency.
  • Know your limits of swimmers rescue and self-rescue on white water rivers. Know when and how to swim for an eddy.
  • Be prepared for extremes in weather, especially cold. Know about the dangers of hypothermia and how to deal with it. When air and water temperature add up to 120 degrees or less, hyperthermia is a high risk. Wear a wet suit and booties in spring to early summer and always in Class V water.
  • Know early signs and symptoms of heat exhaustion and dehydration in hot weather.
  • Know how to recognize and react to river hazards such as holes, wrap rocks, undercut boulders and walls, rock sieves, and horizon lines across the river.
  • Avoid rattlesnakes and poison oak, but know how to deal with emergencies if someone is unlucky.
Run the river responsibly.
  • Never run a rapid unless you can see a clear path through it. Watch out for new snags after winter and spring floods.
  • Allow the craft ahead of you to pass through the rapid before you enter it. This will avoid a double disaster if the leading boat blocks the channel.
  • When in doubt, stop and scout. If you are still in doubt? Portage.
  • Remote rivers through isolated wilderness should be approached with caution because aid is difficult or impossible to obtain in case of an accident.

Point of Contact

Bureau of Land Management
Monticello Field Office
365 North Main
Monticello, UT 84535

River Office Phone: 435-587-1544 
River Office Hours: 8 a.m. - 12 p.m. (Mountain Time), Monday - Friday
Email: blm_ut_sanjuan_permits@blm.gov