Rafting Season Update and the Latest River Conditions

Summer Season Rafting

Rafting season has arrived in Colorado, and we’re looking forward to a great summer of fun on the water. Snowpack statewide topped out at over 130% of normal this year! That’s a ton of snow that’s now creating ideal rafting conditions.

Here in the Vail Valley and the rest of the Colorado River basin, runoff has begun and water levels are on the rise. We’re seeing great conditions on some of our favorite local waters, including Gore Creek and the Eagle River.

Colorado Rafting trip

Over in the Arkansas River basin, high water season is definitely here! Flows on the Ark are big, and getting bigger by the day. With all the snowpack coming down off the mountains, this is going to be a memorable peak season.

While summer temperatures are warming up, and runoff is brining higher water levels, there is still a ton of snow yet to melt up in the high country. Not only did we have a bigger than average snowpack in Colorado this year – but it’s also hanging on longer than normal.

Current snowpack in the Arkansas basin is more than double the average for this time of year. And in the Vail Valley, the Colorado River basin is holding on to more than three times the average amount of snowpack for mid-June.

All that to say, it’s going to be a long, fun season of rafting around here! If you’re planning a trip to Colorado this summer, rafting should be on your itinerary. Rafting conditions don’t get much better than this.

We offer a variety of different trips to suit families or groups of all ages. From big rapids and whitewater trips, to float trips that are appropriate for the entire family, we can help you plan the perfect Colorado mountain adventure.

To learn more about rafting with Sage Outdoor Adventures, please explore our Rafting Page. You can book or chat with us online. Or give us a call at 970-476-3700 to begin planning your trip. We hope to see you on the river this summer!

Ready For Summer? Experience a Side-by-Side ATV Adventure

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 regular Vail and Beaver Creek vacationers can lay claim to at least one previous horseback ride or rafting trip, 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 side-by-side ATV tours, you are the driver of your own adventure.

Next, we are fortunate to operate on a 6,000-acre private mountain base area. To put it in perspective, that’s larger than Vail ski area. Plus, we enjoy exploring an additional 14,000 acres of adjoining public land. We have a ton of country to explore, and it’s only accessible to Sage guests.

In addition to the exclusivity, what’s the biggest benefit of having access to this historic private mountain? We’re driving on trails that are specifically designed for side-by-side ATV adventures. These aren’t your average Forest Service roads. On private land, we custom design our ATV trails 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.

The Annual River Guide Training Program Is Underway

Our annual River Guide Training Program has begun, and we’re excited to have 36 rookies in the class this spring. With rain and even some late season snow, it has been an eventful start to the rafting season here in Colorado!

Our River Guide Training is a premier program that prepares our trainees with the skills they’ll need to guide commercial whitewater and fishing trips. Plus, it’s just a ton of fun!

River Guide TrainingAs a part of our raft guide training, rookies must complete a minimum of 50 hours of training. This 10-day program will focus on rescue techniques, rowing, paddle guiding, river features, hydrology, boat terminology, rigging, customer service and more. Prospective guides must also receive training in leave no trace ethics.

These state requirements are mandatory for all river guides in Colorado. We not only adhere to the mandated state requirements for river guide training, we surpass them in most areas. We begin by approaching all training exercises with a deep respect for the river. All our guides are trained specifically for the demands of commercial rafting.

During this exciting training program, our rookies will be challenged daily, having the opportunity to swim through intense whitewater, practice rescue situations, and maneuver boats with and without a paddle crew…and have a blast while doing it all.

What makes our program truly special is the group of instructors that are some of the friendliest and most knowledgeable river experts in the business. Instructors must have 1,500 miles of commercial and private experience. This year, we have eight instructors teaching our spring classes.

Rafting Instructors

Our raft guide training is always exciting, because these classes coincide with the start of spring runoff and high water conditions. Every day is a new day for our rookie guides. Every day come new skills, as the water levels get progressively higher.

Our crew here at Sage works tirelessly to make these adventures possible, and that’s exactly what sets us apart. We love the mountains and these rivers, and we are passionate about sharing that with our guests. We are proud to maintain a drug and alcohol-free workplace. And with this team, you won’t find a more fun, genuine, professional, and skilled group of guides anywhere else.

If you’d like to learn more about our annual River Guide Training Program or other career opportunities at Sage Outdoor Adventures, please check out our Careers Page.

To learn more about rafting with us, take a look at our Rafting Page. We’d love to see you on the river with us in Colorado this summer!

Different Types of Rafts and Why We use Them

Whitewater Raft

If you’ve been on a guided rafting trip, you may have noticed that rafts come in a variety of different setups. Some rafts have the guide using oars in the center. Others place the guide and oars in the back. And some rafts are paddle boats with no oars at all. Each type of boat has its own advantages and disadvantages.

Here’s a quick overview of the different types of raft configurations, and why we use them.

First, consider the raft with a center-mount frame. According to Sage owner and guide, Cole Bangert, 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 or technical rapids with large loads of gear.

Next is the raft with its frame and oars mounted at the back. This makes a great paddle-assisted setup, where the guide rows and calls commands to the crew equipped with paddles.

“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 rafts. SOTAR and Sage have actually teamed up to produce an innovative raft design that’s ideal for our whitewater situations. We worked with SOTAR to build these rafts 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.

Not To Be Missed: Catch Peak Season on the Eagle River

Whitewater Rafting Trip

The months of May and June are peak season on the Eagle River. If you’re going to be in Colorado during these months, this is a rafting opportunity that you should not miss!

During its brief but intense season, the Eagle River is home to some of the best whitewater in the country. From the wild upper section that includes the famous Dowd Chute, all the way down to the playful lower section into the town of Eagle, the Eagle River may not be Colorado’s most famous rafting – but could easily be the most underrated.

“True river enthusiasts visit the Eagle River in droves during peak season,” said Sage owner and guide, Cole Bangert. “If the Eagle had a longer peak season, it would easily rival the Arkansas River in the number of visitors annually.”

The Eagle River is powered by snowmelt, resulting in a rafting season that runs from May through June and sometimes into early July. The excellent rafting is in large part due to a massive elevation drop. This steady gradient produces awesome rapids throughout the entire stretch.

Between the Upper Eagle, the Middle Eagle and the Lower Eagle, we offer three different rafting experiences during this peak runoff season. Here’s a look at each of those rafting trips:

The Upper Eagle and Dowd Chute

The steep gradient of the Eagle River is most obvious in is upper section. Beginning near the town of Minturn, the steady drop creates an epic rafting experience that includes nearly 10 miles of waves and big rapids. This is a serious rafting adventure that’s suitable for ages 16 and up.

The Eagle River’s most famous stretch is found in this upper section – and that’s Dowd Chute.

“This section of the Eagle River is class 4-plus,” Cole commented. It’s a fast, steep, fire hose type of rapid. By the time we clear the last wave, paddlers in the front of the boat might be siting in the laps of the folks in the back of the boat”

Check out the following video to learn more about our rafting trips on the Upper Eagle.

The Middle Eagle River

After Dowd chute, the fun continues. From the bottom of Dowd Chute to the town of Edwards, paddlers enjoy 10 miles of outstanding class 3-plus whitewater. This is a great rafting experience for adventurous paddlers ages 13 and up.

The Middle Eagle River comes to a crescendo with the “Edwards Mile”, a mile-long class 4 rapid with big waves the entire way.

To learn more about rafting trips on the Middle Eagle, take a look at this brief video:

The Lower Eagle

Rafting trips on the Lower Eagle River begin near the town of Wolcott and end in the town of Eagle. Like the rest of the Eagle River, this stretch features a continuous wave train of rapids. The big waves on the lower stretch are a ton of fun, and this is a great trip for families ages 10 and up.

Like the rest of the Eagle River, the peak season on this lower stretch runs during the months of May, June, and occasionally into early July. Paddlers will enjoy awesome scenery, floating through the dramatic red rock walls of the Eagle River canyon. The trip finishes off in the new whitewater park right in the town of Eagle.

Take a look at the video below to learn more about rafting trips on the Lower Eagle River.

If you’d like to learn more about rafting the Eagle River during peak season this year, please visit the Rafting Page on our website or call us at 970-476-3700. Runoff this season is going to be epic, so jump on the opportunity to raft the Eagle River this year!