Colorado Snowpack Update from the Vail Valley

Snowpack here in the Vail Valley and along the Colorado River watershed has been excellent so far this season! After a dry winter last year, we are happy to experience great early season conditions into the New Year.

Current Snowmobiling Conditions

Snowmobile guests are having a blast here at our Mountain Base. Snowpack in the Colorado River basin is currently over 100% of normal, and better than 150% compared to last year. We’ve enjoyed great snowmobile conditions so far this season, and storms keep bringing new snow.

Vail Snowpack Update

Our Custom-Designed Snow Trails

Our mountain base of operations is home to 2,500 feet of vertical. We have more than 100 miles of trails on a mountain larger than Vail ski area. These trails were custom-designed by the team at Sage, specifically for our guests. And with the best grooming equipment in the business, trails are always in prime condition.

Our snowmobile trails wind through a variety of expansive Colorado backcountry habitats. Our guests enjoy sweeping views of the Vail Valley and the Eagle River Canyon. It’s the perfect place to escape from the crowded ski slopes on a real mountain adventure – especially with snowpack like this!

Snow-packed trails in Vail, Colorado

Sage’s Modern Snowmobiles

With great snow conditions and a fleet of new Ski-Doo snowmobiles, we’re ready for you! By the way, in case you haven’t been on a snowmobile recently, these are not your grandfather’s smelly, noisy machines. New 4-stroke snowmobiles are extremely quiet and fuel-efficient. It is a great way to experience the Colorado backcountry. See our recent blog post about modern snowmobile technology to learn more.

To join us on a snowmobile adventure this winter, please give us a call at 970-476-3700. Or, explore the rest of our website to learn more about what we offer.

Early Summer Rafting and Runoff Explained

Summer whitewater rafting

By Cole Bangert

Undammed rivers have a unique river flow when the weather warms up and the snow melts, one that can often be confusing to visitors. But since we get to watch the river on an hourly basis from our office on the bank of the Eagle River, we’ve become experts at predicting when river levels will be perfect for whitewater rafting.

How Winter Snow Impacts Summer Rafting

Snow accumulates throughout the winter at elevations between 8,000 and 14,000 feet. In the spring, the lowest snow melts first. Waterways become murky and levels are boosted, but not to floatable levels. On cold days, the water level goes down, and on warm days it rises, but this fluctuation is minor since the amount of snow melting at lower elevations is not very substantial early in the spring.

As spring progresses, the deeper snowpack at higher elevations begins to warm and melt. This is the time period when you will see the rivers start to have dramatic changes. The water will be muddy, cold, and fast: a clear sign that it’s time for summer whitewater rafting to start.

Summer Weather and River Water Levels

Early Summer Rafting in ColoradoIn the Vail Valley, we watch the Eagle River fluctuate on a 12-hour cycle. For example, the river will be at its highest flows at about 2:00 a.m. Just 12 hours prior, that snow was quickly melting during the hottest part of the day, around 2:00 PM.

As days warm up or cool down, we can almost always predict what the river levels will do the next day. For example, if the river has been steadily rising for five days, and then we get a cold rainstorm, we can predict a drop in river levels the next day.

This often seems backward to many visitors. Rain should equal higher river levels, right? But here’s what happens: that rain actually becomes snow up at high elevations. Instead of the snowpack melting and raising the river, the storm actually re-freezes the snow and the water levels will drop the next day.

So, what happens when the weather is the opposite? When we get an absolute scorcher of a day, we expect to see a massive jump in water flows the very next day. The hot weather heats and quickly melts the snowpack. We have seen the river go up by over 30% overnight, creating incredibly powerful whitewaters.

Peak Summer Rafting Conditions

The peak flow is different every year, which means whitewater rafting conditions are different every year. It is totally dependent on how much snow fell over the winter. After the peak, the water will slowly diminish in volume. The river will drop in level much slower and more gradually than when it rises with snowmelt on its way up to the peak.

Enjoy Summer Runoff Whitewater RaftingAs we get into July, the only snowpack remaining is on the highest peaks. At this time of year, our fluctuations mellow out. Summer temperatures are more stable and warm, so a consistent melt rate occurs. Eventually, all the snow melts, and the water you see in the river is a result of groundwater seeping out of the earth and running down the riverbed.

Moderate snow levels and moderate river levels are actually ideal for our summer rafting guests. When the rivers are “cranking” with tons of snowmelt, river access can be tricky. Flood levels can even close some stretches of the river. The low height of bridges or the severity of rapids can make some areas impassable.

Luckily, with decades of rafting experience under our belts, we have a good sense of the best times to enter the whitewater based on your rafting experience level and goals. Navigate to our rafting page to find more information on our rafting tours, or contact us today for a chat on river conditions and guided tours!

Joe Tomasic Joins the Team at Sage Outdoor Adventures

We are pleased to announce a new addition to our team of skilled experts in the outdoor recreation industry. Joe Tomasic has joined Sage as General Manager and will lead the development of several new programs. 

Joe Tomasic’s Local Experience

Tomasic is a long-time Vail Valley local, outdoorsman and entrepreneur. In fact, Sage owners Darryl and Cole Bangert worked closely with Tomasic when they founded Lakota River Guides together more than 20 years ago. 

“Joe brings decades of operational and work-integrated leadership experience and we’re thrilled to be working with him once again,” said Sage owner Darryl Bangert. 

A Vail Valley resident for more than 26 years, Tomasic continues to work as a business broker specializing in the sale of resort-based businesses, along with niche markets in the software, start-up, outdoor recreation, transportation, and oil & gas industries.  

Tomasic has owned, operated, and sold many successful businesses. Additionally, he has provided strategic, personalized counsel to individuals and companies in areas of business sales and acquisitions, private debt and equity financing, and succession planning.

With a passion for start-up companies, Tomasic worked with Phil Horsman to build the world’s first large-scale ski rental delivery operation, All Mountain Sports. Later, they built All Mountain Transportation into the largest independently owned limousine service on Colorado’s Western Slope and sold that business in 2008.

Joe’s Role as General Manager at Sage

At Sage Outdoor Adventures, Joe will focus on developing a newly purchased property near Dotsero, Colorado along the Colorado River. This project will include a large, recreation-based facility to serve Sage’s rafting clients, as well as a rental facility open to the general public. 

The Dotsero outpost, called Colorado River Sports (C.R.S.), will offer daily rentals for bikes, stand-up paddleboards, tubes, rafts, and duckies. The facility will offer food service, retail, and a large pavilion. A shuttle service will be available along with river rentals

Additionally, Tomasic will be working to develop the newly acquired fishing access on the Piney Valley Ranch. The Piney River flows through the heart of the ranch, and Sage Outdoor Adventures is now the exclusive fly fishing outfitter on the property.  

As Sage continues to grow its services in these areas, Tomasic’s role as General Manager will be to ensure that the company utilizes these resources responsibly, and provides a level of service that sets the bar for all others to be measured by.

Our New Colorado River Rental Outpost

Colorado River Outpost

We are thrilled to announce the purchase of a new property along the Colorado River near Glenwood Canyon. We’ve got big plans to build a river outpost called Colorado River Sports (CRS). The new CRS outpost will include a recreation hub for rafting guests, as well as daily river rentals and bike rentals.

The Property’s History

We’ve operated on this stretch of river for years, enjoying the newly renovated BLM river access point located near Dotsero, Colorado. When a piece of land adjacent to the boat launch became available, we jumped at the opportunity.

The land had previously been used as a storage facility and required major renovations. Immediately following the purchase, we began to clean the property and hauled away more than 30,000 pounds of trash and more than 200 abandoned tires.

“We immediately received calls from neighbors, thanking us for getting things cleaned up on the property,” said Joe Tomasic, General Manager at Sage Outdoor Adventures.

The renovation work has already begun and we are excited to open Colorado River Sports. It will serve as a river outpost for Sage’s rafting trips, providing a meeting point and lunch spot for guests.

Our Colorado River Rental Program

We will be launching several new programs at the site, including daily river rentals. Open to the public, Sage will offer equipment rentals for unguided trips. The available equipment will include stand-up paddleboards, duckies, rafts, and tubes. A river shuttle service will be available.

Additionally, we will be opening a full-service dining facility at the outpost. This facility will be available to everyone enjoying the area in and around Colorado River Sports.

Along with river rentals, we will provide bicycle rentals at the Colorado River outpost. These will include E-bikes, comfort bikes, and high-performance road bikes. The rental location offers easy access to the Glenwood Canyon bike path and many other local trails.

Experienced Bikers Lead the Way

The leadership team here at Sage Outdoor Adventures includes serious bike enthusiasts, who are chomping at the bit to expand our cycling program. Owner Cole Bangert is an avid biker and competed professionally on the World Cup Downhill Circuit. Cole represented the US at three World Championships in Italy, New Zealand, and Scotland.

Sage General Manager Joe Tomasic is an accomplished bike mechanic and has nearly a decade of experience in the cycling industry.

River and Bike Rentals will be available beginning in June 2018. The Dotsero facility will officially break ground in the fall of 2018 and is scheduled to be completed by the spring of 2019.

For more information about our adventures, please explore the rest of our website. If you’d like to book a trip, ask questions or check availability, please contact us online or call us at 970-476-3700.

Rent Rafting Supplies at our Colorado River Outpost

Cutting Fallen Trees From River – Spring 2018

Cutting trees out of the river is a yearly and constant project for river enthusiasts. Darryl has taken over 350 trees out of the Eagle River alone over the past 40 years of commercially using this river. Its not required of us, but we are happy to do it to help mitigate river hazards for all users. Plus, chainsaws are cool and playing in the river is what we do, and this is just a form of that, and we find it fun and enjoyable….most of the time. Some trees have been downright SCARY to cut out!