Featured River: The Arkansas River

The whitewater rafting season has been outstanding here in the Vail valley and across Colorado, and we’d like to introduce you to another one of our favorite rivers.

In case you missed our previous featured river, go back and check out our profile on the Eagle River, which offers some of Colorado’s best seasonal rafting from Vail, down through Avon and Beaver Creek.

This time, let’s talk about the Arkansas River. The ‘Ark’ is well-known in Colorado for it’s incredible whitewater all summer long. But there’s more than just rapids that make the Arkansas special.

“The Arkansas River brings to mind crystal clear, relatively warm water, in a semi-arid desert with warm air temps that create a perfect rafting environment,” Commented Cole Bangert, owner and guide here at Sage.  “It’s totally unique in the west. The flows on the Ark are augmented by reservoirs upstream, so rafting is phenomenal all summer; not just during early snow melt periods, like you see on the Eagle River or Clear Creek.”

According to Cole, the backdrop on the Arkansas River also makes it unique. The entire corridor is lined with towering 14,000-foot peaks, the highest concentration of “14-ers” in the state. With snow-capped peaks above and desert granite boulders below, the banks of the Arkansas River are scattered ponderosa pine, and the vanilla aroma from their bark fills the air.

If all that isn’t enough, the whitewater is top quality. 

“The upper stretches of the Arkansas boast big class V rapids, with the steepest commercially run rapid in the U.S.,” Cole added. “The Pine Creek section drops at a gradient of over 200 feet per mile. This is a mile-long class V rapid with tricky moves, fast water, big waves, and big hydraulics that must be run with precision and power.”

Just below Pine Creek is the popular, “Numbers” stretch, where rafters will find some of the most fun class IV drops anywhere in Colorado.

And finally, below the town of Buena Vista is the most popular stretch on the Arkansas River, Browns Canyon National Monument. This spectacular canyon was designated a National Monument in 2015, and for good reason.

“Here, you have the opportunity to float through a jaw-dropping gorge,” Cole concluded. “It consists of ten miles of class III rapids, where groups and families can enjoy an incredible experience amid these impressive natural surroundings.”

For more information on our rafting trips, or on any of the great outdoor adventures that we offer from Sage headquarters in Vail, explore the rest of our website at SageOutdoorAdventures.com or call us at 970-476-3700.

The Sage Outdoors Side-by-Side ATV Experience

While rafting trips need no explanation and horseback riding is always a popular mountain activity, we often receive questions about our side-by-side ATV tours. What makes these trips so special? Why explore the Vail area in a side-by-side?

It’s a valid question. While many of our Vail and Beaver Creek vacationers can lay claim to at least one previous horseback ride or rafting adventure, we get a lot of first-timers on our ATV trips. But after their first time, we can almost guarantee – it won’t be the last!

What makes these trips so special? First and probably most obviously, it’s the wind on your face and the fast-paced, driver’s seat view of Colorado’s spectacular mountain country. On our ATV tours, you are the driver of your own adventure.

Next, we are fortunate to operate on a 6,000-acre private ranch, an area larger than Vail ski area. Plus, there’s an adjoining 14,000 acres of public land to explore. In addition to the exclusivity, what’s the biggest benefit of having access to this historic private ranch? We’re riding purpose-built, side-by-side ATV trails. These aren’t your run of the mill forest service roads. On private land, our trails can be manipulated to be extremely entertaining. And that’s exactly what they are!

Finally, the Sage experience is special because we run new, top of the line machines. Our Maverick’s offer outstanding handling and performance that makes the entire experience that much more fun!

Here’s a quick look at our ATV touring experience:

For more information about our ATV tours here at Sage Outdoor Adventures, check out our Side-by-Side ATV Page. For booking and availability contact us or call us now at 970-476-3700.

Types of Rafts and Why We Use Them

If you’ve been on guided rafting trips before, you may have noticed different raft setups. Some have oars mounted in the center. Others place the guide on oars in the back. And some rafts are paddle boats with no oars at all. Have you ever wondered, what are the reasons for using a particular type of boat? Do each have advantages or disadvantages?

We recently spoke with Sage owner and director of operations, Cole Bangert for his thoughts on raft setups. Here’s a quick overview of the different types of rafts and why we use them.

First, consider the raft with a center-mount frame. According to Cole, these types of rafts are extremely agile, since the pivot point of the raft is in the center. You’ll most often see this type of setup on overnight camp floats for their ability to navigate big rapids or techy rapids with loads of evenly loaded gear for good weight distribution.

Next, there’s the stern-mounted frame and oars. This makes a great “paddle assist” setup, where the guide rows and calls commands to a paddle crew.

“The paddle crew and guide work together to move the boat,” Cole said. “This is ideal for commercial outfitters. The guide can do most of the work but guests are still heavily involved. It’s a great setup for family trips with younger kids, as guide has ability to move the boat without much power from guests.”

You have probably seen a paddle boat with no oars. This is the way you see most commercial trips structured. This heavily involves the customers, as they must come together as a team to move the raft efficiently.

“The guide and guest have to create a trust factor,” Cole told us. “The guide usually could not navigate certain whitewater without the performance of his paddle crew, and the paddle crew must trust that the guide knows how to command the boat. This is fun for the guide and guest alike. There is a lot of teaching and learning.”

Sage uses a mixture of boats, but primarily SOTAR and Hyside. SOTAR and Sage teamed up to produce what many call “the sexiest raft I’ve seen on the water” for the past couple years. Not only are the colors custom to match the Sage logo, its also a custom design of boat, built specifically for maximizing performance and fun.

“These custom rafts are 13.5 feet long and they track well, meaning they move in the direction you point the boat amid heavy waves and currents,” Cole commented. “They are balanced and stable with the 19-inch tube diameter, which is slightly larger than a standard 13-foot raft. The tubes diminish from 19 inches to 15 inches on the tip of the bow and stern to enable the raft to “punch” through big waves without getting stalled out.”

SOTAR also used a high-end material on our custom rafts that, when inflated, turns very stiff. This is crucial to have in hard whitewater. It makes the boat more predictable, faster, and stable for the paddlers. “The height of the bow is also custom,” Cole concluded. “We set it to have a good mixture of speed, anti-deflection, and wetness…because cause lets face it, when waves cover the raft, it’s the best feeling ever!”

For more information on rafting trips near Vail and Beaver Creek with Sage Outdoor Adventures, please visit our Rafting Page. To book your trip, call us now at 970-476-3700.

Featured River Profile: The Eagle River

It’s time to get to know some of the incredible stretches of whitewater here in Colorado! This state has incredible rafting opportunities, and we’d like to introduce you to one of our favorites. In case you’re not already familiar, here’s a look at the Eagle River.

If you’ve never had the opportunity to raft the Eagle River, you need to make time!

“Right now is prime season for the Eagle River and when it flows, it’s some of the best whitewater in the nation, no joke,” said Sage Outdoor Adventures owner and river guide, Cole Bangert. “All the river enthusiasts in the state flock here during peak season. If the prime season on the Eagle ran longer into the summer, it would rival the Arkansas River in use numbers.”

While the Arkansas’ long rafting season makes it the most famous river in the state by a long stretch, the Eagle is perhaps the most underrated. Because during its peak-rafting season, there is nothing else like it. It’s long, steady gradient drops with awesome class 3 and 4 rapids the entire way, including a continuous, mile-long class 4 rapid!

“The Eagle River is unique in the sense that it has a very steady gradient,” Bangert said. “Specifically, the upper section from Minturn to Avon has a very steady drop. As the water rises with snowmelt, the fun increases. It’s pretty much a 10 mile wave train.”

Perhaps the Eagle River’s most famous stretch is Dowd Chute.

“This is a fire hose of a rapid,” Bangert commented. “It’s class 4-plus and it’s fast and steep with big pushy waves. The last wave is named Tyson’s, as it delivers a very heavy hit. Paddlers in the front of the boat generally end up in the laps of the people in the back of the boat on this hit.”

After Dowd chute, the fun isn’t over. In fact, the rest of the upper Eagle River features 10 miles of outstanding class 4 whitewater, culminating in the “Edwards Mile”, a mile-long class 4 rapid with continuous huge waves.

For more information on rafting the Eagle River or any of our other rafting trips throughout the summer, check out the Rafting Page on our website or give us a call at 970-476-3700. Don’t miss your chance to raft one of the best rivers in Colorado this season!

Sage Raft Race Team Takes 2nd in National Championships

We are very proud to announce that in only their second year of competition, the Sage Raft Race team took 2nd place overall at the USRA National Championships last weekend in Oklahoma City.

2016 marked the first year for the Sage team, finishing 3rd overall in the six-person National Championships. In just their second year, the team has moved up the podium one spot, finishing 2nd place this year in the 4-person competition.

Sage team members at this year’s National Championship races included Wes Zittel, Danny Zittel, Kyle Nix and team captain, Cole Bangert. The competition included four separate events, including a time trial, slalom and a head-to-head race. Sage was the only team to cleanly navigate all gates on the first slalom run. But each team is allowed two slalom runs, keeping their best time. And on the second run, the Ark Sharks team from Summit County took the fastest time by only six seconds.

With such exciting early success, the Sage team certainly plans to be back as a serious contender next year. But in the meantime, there is more rafting competition to look forward to. Today, the Sage Raft Race Team begins competition at the CKS Paddlefest in Buena Vista. Then, they’ll make appearances at the Vista GoPro Mountain Games and FIBArk festivals later next month.

If you’re interested in a Colorado rafting adventure with Sage Outdoor Adventures and our world-class guides, give us a call at 970-476-3700 or contact us online. We’ve got a great rafting season to look forward to and we’d love to see you on the water!