Art in Nature: Oil Painting on the San Juan

A multi-day oil painting workshop on the Upper San Juan

CFI is teaming up with Nathan Florence to create the first art themed Adult Adventure Seminar! This seminar is ideal for beginners, experienced oil painters, and anyone in between.

Draw inspiration from the breathtaking canyon walls, changing October foliage, and unparalleled natural and cultural history. This is the perfect opportunity to hone or develop skills under the guidance of a professional Colorado Plateau artist.

See the World Differently

This is the first River Run/Painting Workshop of its kind and it is destined to become a favorite. Combining the expert guidance, fun and adventure CFI is known for with Nathan’s experience making and teaching art, his love of rivers and this landscape and his music and story-telling are sure to have participants coming back again and again.

Slow Down to Connect

On CFI trips, we share quotes, readings, facilitate connections and practice unplugging from our busy lives. This is your chance to turn your phone to airplane mode and enjoy fresh, cast iron meals, and spectacular scenery with fellow artists.

The Upper San Juan River
October 13, 2024 through October 17, 2024
5 days, 4 nights
Group Size:
Minimum: 6, Maximum: 12
$1840 plus $10 BLM and $30 Navajo Nation fees
First night in Lodge, then a 4 day, 3 night river trip.

This is how we rate the challenges you might face on a CFI trip.

Level 1 - Easy

  • Low level of physical activity, minimal movement required
  • 0 nights spent camping or in the field
  • Hiking or walking 0-2 miles per day

Level 2 - Moderate

  • Medium level of physical activity, some movement required
  • 1-4 nights spent camping or in the field
  • Hiking up to 4 miles per day
  • Flatwater or mild whitewater rapids

Level 3 - Active

  • Medium or high level of physical activity
  • 1-5 nights spent camping or in the field
  • Hiking up to 5 miles per day
  • Class I - III whitewater rapids

Level 4 - Challenging

  • High level of physical activity
  • 1-6 nights spent camping or in the field
  • Hiking 5 or more miles per day
  • Class IV whitewater rapids
CFI's Essential Eligibility Criteria outlines specific challenges that you may face on CFI trips. Please consult the EEC for information on responsibilities of participants.

See other trips in these categories:

Trip Narrative

Day 1:

Arrive in Bluff and check into Recapture Lodge. The accommodations are included within the fee, but dinner is on your own this evening. We will meet up for an evening orientation at 7:30 p.m. We will take some time passing out essential gear, talking about the trip, and getting to know each other. Nathan will share his thoughts on making art in such an inspiring place and some things to look for.

Day 2:

After continental breakfast provided by the Lodge, and some final packing, we’ll head to the Sand Island boat ramp. The trip guides will deliver a safety orientation and the river journey will begin!

Day 2 – 3:

Our days are a pleasant mix of time in camp, short informative talks, great meals and side art expeditions both on public and on Navajo Nation land. The trip is filled with art insights and instruction, and access to views and places best reached by the river. Evenings are filled with storytelling and music. Nathan will play a mixture of sing-a-long river favorites and some originals as well. Passengers can choose to ride in rafts or inflatable kayaks, and as the canyon walls tighten up, there are small riffles and family friendly rapids that provide some excitement. Dinner the last night promises some crazy outfits and fun.

Day 4:

The last day brings time to reflect and express gratitude for the gifts the river has given us. We’ll float the last few miles after lunch and reach the takeout early afternoon, returning to Bluff around 4 p.m. to say our farewells.

Guest Faculty

nathan florence bio pic Nathan Forence is a Salt Lake City based artist. Nathan’s paintings document his love of the landscape and storytelling. They range from small landscape studies done on site, to large, figurative paintings done in the studio and commissioned portraits. His work is found in public and private collections around the world. Nathan produced and directed the critically acclaimed documentary, Bright Spark: the Reconciliation of Trevor Southey. His work also includes sculpture and photography. Nathan is actively involved in local social issues and is a member of the board of the Alliance for a Better Utah, a progressive advocacy group. He lives in the 9th and 9th neighborhood with his family.

Accessibility and Safety

For any CFI trip, please consult the Essential Eligibility Requirements to determine if this trip is right for you. You can also reach out to CFI at to ask any questions. 

Regardless of the time of year, please bring all items suggested on the packing list, including rain layers. CFI trips generally happen rain or shine, with some modifications possible depending on the weather.



During this overnight river trip, we will be moving down the San Juan River, camping on riverside beaches and campsites.

Camp will feature spots for your tent, a camp kitchen, and a centrally located seating area. We will use rain tarps and shelters in case of hot or rainy weather, and we bring chairs for each participant. There will be a nearby Groover to use for the bathroom.

Hiking and Boating:

We will spend most of our days on rafts, navigating the river corridor. We may also stop for side hikes, excursions or to see points of interest along the river. Most hikes will be short, across sandy trails with some elevation gain or loss. Some will be on steeper, stair like trails or scree slopes. All side excursions are optional. 

Guide Training and Emergencies:

Every CFI guide has either a Wilderness First Aid or Wilderness First Responder certification. Your trip leader will have a Wilderness First Responder certification. Anyone working with youth has passed a background check, and drivers are insured with clean driving records.

Backcountry trips carry In-Reach satellite communication devices for emergencies. All guides have been evaluated by Canyonlands Field Institute as possessing the judgement, skills, and disposition required for mitigating risk in the field. 

Additional Information

CFI is a non-profit organization and fees are not taxed. By choosing CFI, you are supporting our efforts to provide lifechanging outdoor experiences for hundreds of children per year.  Scholarships are available on an as needed basis.