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About 2 1/4 miles west of town is Sand Island Recreation Site, operated by the BLM. Located along the San Juan River among cottonwoods, Russian olives, and salt cedar, this area offers boating and fishing. Boaters must obtain river permits in advance, and because there are usually more people wanting permits than there are permits available, a lottery is held in January to determine who gets the permits. Fees are charged, based on the time of year, section of river, and number of people in your party. As early as possible, preferably in December for the following summer, contact the Bureau of Land Management, 365 N. Main St. (P.O. Box 7), Monticello, UT 84535 (tel. 435/587-1500, or 587-1544 8am-noon Mon-Thurs for permits and applications; www.blm.gov/ut). Nestled between the river and a high rock bluff are picnic tables, vault toilets, and graveled campsites; camping is $10 per night and drinking water is available. Head west from the boat launch to see a number of petroglyphs, some of which can be seen easily on foot; others require a boat to see. Unfortunately, you must have your own boat with you, as there are no nearby places to rent boats.

Goosenecks State Park, set on a rim high above the San Juan, offers spectacular views out over the twisting, turning river some 1,000 feet below. It's named for the sharp turns in the river, which meanders more than 5 miles to progress just 1 linear mile and provides a look straight down through 300 million years of geologic history. (The park also has some Hollywood history: It served as the location for the climactic scene in Thelma & Louise.) A gravelly open area at the end of the paved road has picnic tables, trash cans, vault toilets, and an observation shelter, but no drinking water. The park is open around the clock and admission is free; primitive camping is permitted at no charge. The park is about 24 miles from Bluff, just off the route to Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park. Head west on U.S. 163 for about 20 miles, turn north (right) on Utah 261 for about a mile, and then west (left) on Utah 316 for 2 1/2 miles. For information, contact Goosenecks State Park, 660 W. 400 North, Blanding, UT 84511 (tel. 435/678-2238; www.stateparks.utah.gov).

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.