Colorado Snowpack & What it Means for Summer Rafting

Summer Season Rafting

We’ve enjoyed a fabulous winter season here in the Vail Valley. Snowmobiling has been a ton of fun with excellent snow conditions. But we’re also excited that spring is around the corner. All this snow means we’re going to have an incredible whitewater rafting season!

First, a big thanks to everyone who has joined us this winter on a snowmobile tour! We’ve enjoyed meeting and riding with each of you. Thanks to you, it has been an epic snowmobile season, exploring our private mountain at Castle Peak.

Snowmobile Tour

As we look forward to spring and the summer rafting season, we can’t help but get excited. After a relatively dry winter last year, the Snowpack in the Colorado high country is deep. And that means great rafting conditions ahead!

Currently, statewide snowpack is at 115% of normal levels. Right here in the Colorado River basin, we’re sitting at 113% of normal. With this much snow in the high country, we can expect an extended season for Gore Creek and the Eagle River. With the weather outlook, we expect both the Eagle and Gore Creek to run in prime conditions through mid-July.

When the Eagle River is at its peak, it’s some of the best whitewater in the country. If the prime season on the Eagle ran longer into the summer, it would rival the Arkansas River in use numbers. But what makes the Eagle River is unique, is the steady downward gradient. The upper section from Minturn to Avon features a consistent elevation drop, essentially creating a 10-mile long wave train.

If you’ve never experienced Gore Creek or the Eagle River, this will be the year to do it!

Colorado Rafting trip

Meanwhile, over in the Arkansas River basin, snowpack is currently at about 124% of normal. After the spring thaw begins, we’re going to see a long, and memorable summer of whitewater rafting on the Ark.

The world-famous Pine Creek and Numbers sections of the Arkansas boast some of the best class IV and V whitewater rafting in the country. Further downstream, Browns Canyon National Monument offers a trip through an incredibly scenic gorge with 10 miles of class III rapids. Add to this a backdrop of 14,000-foot peaks and rocky desert landscapes, and it’s easy to see why the Ark is a popular rafting destination.

The 2019 rafting season in Colorado is shaping up to be a memorable one. If you’re planning a trip to Colorado this year, be sure and reserve dates early for your whitewater adventure.

To learn more, visit our Rafting Page. If you have questions or to book a trip, please call us at 970-476-3700 or contact us online.

Your Private Mountain Snowmobile Playground

Having a base of operations on a beautiful private mountain near Vail, Colorado allows us to offer a snowmobiling experience that’s unrivaled. It’s one of our greatest points of pride here at Sage Outdoor Adventures. It’s a big part of what makes us different.

A snowmobile tour with us means having access to 6,000 rideable acres. What does that mean for our guests? To put it in perspective, that’s bigger than the Vail ski area. And it’s entirely private. The only people you’ll see on the entire mountain are other Sage guests. Most tour companies rely on Forest Service permits. They are forced to deal with public conditions and are restricted to specific trails and small play areas.

SnowmobilingOur riders get to explore the entire mountain. This mountain paradise has 2,500 feet of vertical, more than 100 miles of maintained trails, and expansive meadows for open riding. Our base of operations sits at 8,100 feet elevation, the same as Vail and Beaver Creek Villages. Most of our mountain is north-facing, which preserves snow conditions on our trails.

Trail quality is another major point of pride. Our crew sets the standard for excellent trails and grooming. We operate three Snowcats for grooming, plus five drag groomers that are pulled by snowmobiles. Trail maintenance takes a lot of effort and our team is the best in the business. On a snowmobile ride with us, you won’t have to worry about hitting washboard sections or nasty dips. You’ll be free to enjoy the incredible scenery and an experience like nowhere else!

Finally, the private mountain experience offers an unparalleled level of comfort. Whereas operators on public trails are forced to use temporary check-in trailers and outhouses, our guests enjoy a cozy cabin at our mountain base. Our base is nestled in a scenic valley with incredible views. The cabin is a great place for customers to relax, with wood burning stoves, fully equipped restrooms and a 5,000 square-foot deck overlooking the valley.

The best mountain and the greatest facilities wouldn’t mean what they do without our incredible team. Our people are still what make a Sage experience truly special. But having the opportunity to operate in such an incredible location sure doesn’t hurt!

For more information on snowmobile tours with Sage Outdoor Adventures, give us a call at 970-476-3700 or send us a message. You can also read more about our snowmobiling adventures on our website at SageOutdoorAdventures.com.

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.

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 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.

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.

Stay Cool, It’s The Perfect Time for A Rafting Adventure

Colorado River Outpost

We’ve enjoyed warm summer temperatures in Colorado and it’s a perfect time to be out on the water! When it’s hot in town and on the mountain, you know it’s time for a rafting adventure! 

Rafting conditions in central Colorado are awesome. While the local news loves reporting about dry conditions and forest fires, we’re enjoying great rafting! The Arkansas and Colorado Rivers are dam-controlled waters with consistent flows and awesome rapids!

The Upper Colorado River and the Shoshone Rapids in Glenwood Canyon are perfect activities for a hot summer day. We have half-day trips available in the mornings or afternoons, and there’s no better way to cool off.

Browns Canyon and The Numbers sections of the Arkansas River are “must do” trips here in Colorado. We have 3/4 and full day trips available on these famous stretches of the Arkansas.

Here at Sage, we’re proud to have a wide range of rafting experiences. We can help you plan the perfect trip for a group of any age or experience level. Here’s a quick 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. 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. Check out our Adrenaline Series. 

To reserve your dates this summer, call us now at 970-476-3700 or contact us online. It’s hot outside, so let’s plan your rafting adventure!

Early Summer Rafting and Runoff Explained

By Cole Bangert

Undammed rivers have a unique quality when the weather warms up and the snow melts. We get to watch the delayed reaction on an hourly basis from our office on the bank of the Eagle River.

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. On warm days is 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.

In 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 the day, around 2:00PM.

As days warm or cool, 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 rain storm, we can predict a drop in river levels the next day.

This often seems backwards to many visitors. Rain should equal higher river levels, right? But here’s what happens: that rain is actually 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.

The peak flow is 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.

As 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 ground water 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 river. The low height of bridges or the severity of rapids can make some areas impassable.

The winter of 2017-2018 was below average for snowpack in the Vail area. But that does not equal sub-par rafting. In fact, it’s exactly the opposite. We expect this summer to be one of the best rafting seasons ever!