Colorado Rafting Trips That Must be On Your Radar

Take it from your favorite paddle junkies. We’ve had the opportunity to explore rivers all over our home state. Colorado is home to some incredible rafting adventures. If you haven’t had the opportunity to explore many of them, let us fill you in.

Here are the Colorado rafting trips that must be on your radar:

Northwest Colorado:

Our state’s namesake river, the Colorado River offers a number of great stretches that can be done in a day. From the mouth of Gore Canyon, all the way down into Glenwood canyon, there are a number of day-trip sections suitable for a wide range of abilities.

The Eagle River also offers some outstanding day-trip stretches. Check out the upper Eagle from Minturn to Edwards and the lower Eagle River from Wolcott to the town of Eagle.

Another Norwest Colorado favorite of ours is the Roaring Fork, particularly the Slaughterhouse section.

The Yampa River offers visitors the chance to experience a 5-day wilderness trip. The scenery will leave you dumbfounded, and then you add in the class III and IV whitewater, and this one is a winner.

Southwest Colorado:

The Animas River is a great one near Durango that offers excellent day trips. The Animas has everything from family friendly trips to difficult whitewater.

The San Juan River is unique in that visitors can experience an extended, 7-day wilderness adventure. With no difficult rapids, it’s great for families with young children. You will feel like you are the first person to ever be there.

The Dolores River also offers overnighters, from 3-day to 7-day wilderness trips. The Dolores travels through different micro-climates, starting in the mountains with tall ponderosa pines, and then turning into a classic desert canyon trip near the Utah border.

Southeast Colorado:

The Arkansas River is the undisputed Jewel of southeast Colorado and perhaps some of the most famous whitewater in the state. Well known sections of the Arkansas include Pine Creek, Numbers, Browns Canyon, Bighorn Sheep Canyon and the Royal Gorge. With great day trips that are easy to reach from the front range, it’s easy to see why rafting trips on the Ark are so popular.

Northeast Colorado:

The Poudre Canyon is a Front Range favorite. This Wild & Scenic river is home to day trips just outside Fort Collins, Colorado on class III sections of the lower Poudre.

The North Platte River is a hidden gem in Colorado. But don’t let its sleepy status fool you.  The Wild & Scenic North Platte offers some awesome multi-day wilderness trips that cross from Colorado up into Wyoming.

Clear Creek is a popular paddling playground that’s close to Denver and the Front Range metro area. Visitors here can enjoy day trips on several different sections of Clear Creek.

adventure raft

If you’d like to learn more about the awesome Colorado rafting trips that we offer here at Sage Outdoor Adventures, please check out our Rafting Page. You can also contact us online or simply give us a call at 970-476-3700.

2018 Rafting Trips and Summer Adventure on the Horizon

Spring is here and we’re already looking forward with anticipation to some awesome 2018 rafting trips and summer adventures right around the corner!

Playing in the snow is a blast, but it’s usually around this time when we start dreaming of playing in the water. Before we know it, we’ll be pushing off for another awesome whitewater season. This summer, we will also be enjoying beautiful horseback rides, side-by-side ATV rides, fly fishing and sporting clays.

The 2018 rafting season in Colorado kicks off in May and we offer rafting trips to suit any group, from family-friendly outings to adrenaline-packed adventures.

First, our Float Series rafting trips are perfect families and groups of all ages. Explore the upper Colorado River and travel through scenic canyons while you enjoy splashing through waves and lazy swimming holes.

Next, our Adventures Series includes Class III whitewater trips with the excitement of rapids, plus some killer Colorado scenery. There are a wide variety of trips in the Adventure Series and we can easily customize these floats. They include stretches of the Colorado River, Gore Creek, the lower Eagle River and the world-renown Brown’s Canyon on the Arkansas River.

Finally, we offer some incredible Adrenaline Series trips for Colorado’s best nonstop whitewater action. The most famous stretches of river in Colorado are the Numbers and Pine Creek Sections of the Arkansas River. But don’t overlook the Eagle River. The Eagle is home to some awesome whitewater and we believe it’s one of the most underrated in Colorado.

In addition to these many rafting adventures, we’re looking forward to another summer of fun at our base of operations on a historic ranch near Vail. Here at our base, we’ve got 6,000 acres to explore on horseback and ATV. In this private setting, we have the mountain to ourselves where we’re free to explore Colorado’s alpine country. From here we enjoy views of seven different mountain ranges and overlooks of the jaw-dropping Eagle River Canyon.


For more information on our 2018 rafting trips and other summer adventures, please check out the rest of the website at SageOutdoorAdventures.com. You can also contact us online or give us a call at 970-476-3700.

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.

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.

Reserve Your Summer Rafting Dates Today

Spring temperatures are arriving in Colorado and water levels are already beginning to rise! There’s still tons of snow up high and as runoff progresses, we’re looking forward to an awesome season of rafting! This year is going to be one to remember.

It’s no secret that snowpack is well above average and that an epic rafting season is just around the corner. Whitewater enthusiasts are already busy planning summer adventures. Prime dates this season will fill up fast. So if you have a trip in mind, we recommend reserving your summer rafting dates early this year!

We offer a wide range of rafting experiences to suit different ages and ability levels. Here’s an overview of our rafting adventures:

Float Series (Class II)

Our Float Series rafting adventures are perfect for all ages. These trips on the upper Colorado River travel through beautiful canyons where you’ll enjoy splashing through waves and leisurely swimming holes. We even offer a Ducky Trip, giving you the opportunity to captain your own two-person raft! For more information, check out our Float Series.

Adventure Series (Class III)

Our Adventures series whitewater rafting trips provide the excitement of rapids and spectacular Colorado canyon scenery. You won’t be able to wipe the grin off your face. These trips are widely varying depending on the season and interests of your group. They include stretches of the Colorado River, Gore Creek, the lower Eagle River and the world-renown Brown’s Canyon on the Arkansas River. Find more details on our Adventure Series.

Adrenaline Series (Class IV & V)

Our Adrenaline Series trips offer some of the best nonstop action on the most well known stretches of whitewater in Colorado. Experienced rafters will tell you that the Numbers and Pine Creek Sections of the Arkansas River are some of the best. But don’t overlook our local river in the Vail Valley. The Eagle River offers some of the best whitewater in the state. Check out our Adrenaline Series.

To reserve your dates for an incredible rafting trip, call us now at 970-476-3700 or contact us online. Let’s plan your adventure!