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!

The Enviro Impact of Snowmobiles Versus Other Winter Sports

Snowmobiles

The recent changes in snowmobile technology are even more radical than the change in ski shape over the last 15 years. Emissions are incredibly low and the sport of snowmobiling is exploding. But what does that mean from an environmental perspective? How does snowmobiling compare to other winter sports in terms of its impact?

From young families to adventurous outdoorsy types, snowmobiling is a fast-growing sport. Many many skiers are enjoying a relaxing day away from the slopes and a chance to do something different with their families. Here at Sage, it’s not uncommon for us to see three-generations of riders together on a tour.

Some may find it surprising, but the number-one reason our customers say they go snowmobiling is to “experience the wilderness.” It’s true, that backcountry experience is the primary draw for most snowmobile riders.

Unfortunately, there’s also a great deal of misperception about snowmobiling. Some folks see them as noisy and polluting. In reality, neither is true. Our modern snowmobiles are incredibly quiet. You are more likely to hear the sound of the sled on the snow than you are the engine. And with low emissions and no smell, snowmobiles offer a perfect escape from the bustle of the ski slopes into the tranquility of the mountains.

Our 6,000-acre private ranch near Vail and Beaver creek is home to resident mule deer, elk and other wildlife. Our riders frequently see wildlife here on the ranch, where they stay undisturbed through the winter. In terms of environmental impact, a snowmobile ride is far more “green” than a day of riding lifts. All of our guided trips give our guests the opportunity to stop, look, listen and just enjoy being still in these stunning places.

In the end, our guests’ favorite part of these trips is also our favorite part. We’re here because we love the experience. We are skiers too. But a snowmobile ride offers the chance to escape from the crowds and experience the still silence of the backcountry and the mountains in winter.

For more information on our guided snowmobile tours, please take a look at our Snowmobiling Page. Or give us a call at 970-476-3700. We hope to see you here for a snowmobiling adventure soon!

Snow Update: What it means for Snowmobiling and Summer Rafting

This winter, the Vail Valley and the rest of Colorado has experienced some of the best early season snow conditions that we’ve seen in years. With snowpack reaching nearly 150% of normal, our snowmobile tours this season have been incredible! If you haven’t been paying attention, be sure to follow us on Instagram, @sageoutdoors or like our Facebook page at Facebook.com/SageOutdoors.

All this snow came before the middle of February and that means there’s more in store! Another series of storms is predicted over the next week that will provide our snowmobile tours with a nice “reset” for powder conditions. Then consider that March is typically the wettest month in Colorado. We can expect to see great spring break snowmobiling conditions. And with a hefty snowpack, visitors to the Vail and Beaver Creek area could have great spring snowmobiling opportunities all the way through April.

For many of us here at Sage, snowmobiling is only one of the perks of a healthy snowpack. Our rafting guides are already drooling at the prospect of an epic runoff season. With this much snow in the high country, we could be looking at a great summer of whitewater rafting adventures.

Currently, snowpack in the Colorado River basin and statewide is at about 145% of normal. Here’s to hoping that we see a few more big storms before the winter is out!

For more information on our guided snowmobile tours, please check out our Snowmobiling Page. If you’re planning a summer trip to Colorado or interested in the upcoming rafting season, be sure to visit our Rafting Page. Other activities include horseback riding, ATV tours, sporting clays and fly fishing.

Explore the entire site and all these great adventures at SageOutdoorAdventures.com. Or give us a call at 970-476-3700.

Kick Your Holiday Plans Up A Notch with A Snowmobile Tour

Snowmobile Tour

What better way to celebrate the Holidays than with a snowmobile tour on a spectacular 6,000-acre private ranch near Vail, Colorado? Seriously. Kick your Christmas plans up a notch and join us for a memorable experience on the snow!

img_1306Our private mountain is home to more than 100 miles of trails and stunning views that overlook the Vail Valley. Feel the wind in your face as you gain speed through the open flats of sage and mountain mahogany. Soak in the Rocky Mountain backcountry while winding your way through old-growth stands of aspen and spruce. The snowmobiling experience here is unforgettable.

We offer two-hour guided tours with three start times each day. And pickup is free from your hotel. That leaves plenty of time for your other Holiday commitments. It makes a perfect group event and our experienced guides will make sure that everyone has a great time. Don’t forget to ask for our 10% group discount when you book 10 or more snowmobiles.

For details and to book your Colorado snowmobile adventure, check out our Snowmobile Trips Page or call us at 970-476-3700. See you on the mountain!