As an alpine, free flowing waterway, the San Miguel River is an epic location for your next whitewater rafting adventure. Although the season is quite short, those that book trips in June and July will experience a fun and relatively easy ride through one of Colorado’s most scenic areas nearby Telluride.
Rafting Trips on the San Miguel River
There are options for every kind of adventure on the San Miguel River. Outfitters provide a variety of options including half day, full day, and multi-day whitewater rafting trips.
The San Miguel River is a tributary of another popular whitewater destination, the Dolores River. Week-long or multi-week trips are popular by combining the two rivers into one, long trip.
Whitewater Rafting Difficulty – The San Miguel River is easy to moderate, with Class I – III rapids. First time rafters and families can enjoy the San Miguel River as the rapids are not overly technical or difficult. For the most part, the San Miguel River offers a continuous Class II whitewater run, with the occasional Class III rapid.
Here are the most popular sections of the San Miguel River for whitewater rafting:
Sawpit, Upper Miguel and Lower Miguel
With great access right outside Telluride, this first section of the San Miguel River is extremely popular for exciting and convenient whitewater rafting adventures. It is divided into the Sawpit, Upper Miguel and Lower Miguel Portions. Totally up to 24 miles, rafters can enjoy all or some of the day splashing through Class III rapids.
The Sawpit, Upper, and Lower sections of the San Miguel are the most challenging portions of the river. In comparison to other whitewater rivers, this section of the San Miguel is not challenging, but may be intimidating for first time rafters. With that said, portions of each of these sections are often rafted by outfitters and guides.
This initial section of the San Miguel parallels a highway, however the canyon scenery and bountiful rapids will keep rafters entertained and in awe of Colorado’s beautiful southwest.
Norwood Canyon and The Ledges
After the busy initial section of the San Miguel, the river continues to flow for 18 miles down into Colorado’s high desert. The dramatically changing scenery is accompanied by remote, Class III whitewater for a moderately difficult journey. Trips to this less frequented section begin at either the Beaver Creek or Norwood Bridge access points. From there, rafters typically end a full day of floating at the Ledges or Green Truss / Pinon Bridge take-out points.
Naturita to Dolores Confluence
The final section of the San Miguel River begins near Naturita and ends at the confluence of the Dolores River in the Paradox Canyon. This portion is rarely rafted, however is a necessary section to traverse on overnight and multi-day rafting and camping trips. All in all, this extremely mild part of the San Miguel encompasses about 24 miles of Class I water.
San Miguel River Rafting Guides
- 4 Corners Whitewater
- Dvorak Expeditions
- Echo Canyon River Expeditions
- Mild 2 Wild Rafting & Jeep Tours
- Telluride Outside
Activities near the San Miguel River
The San Miguel River offers a unique journey from Colorado’s Rocky Mountains down into the high deserts just east of Utah. From the headwater, visitors can enjoy everything that the San Juan National Forest has to offer. This includes hiking, backpacking, rock climbing, and world class skiing in the winter.
When you’ve had enough of the great outdoors, Telluride is one of Colorado’s most scenic mountain towns. Most whitewater trips along the San Miguel will meet up in Telluride, where meals, lodging, and things to do are aplenty once the adventure has ended.
Nearby Towns (from west to east):
Season: June – July
Class: I – III