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!

Update On Summer Rafting Conditions

The whitewater-rafting season in Colorado is in full swing and we’ve enjoyed an awesome summer so far. With heavy spring snowpack across the state, we’ve experienced fun high water conditions throughout June and now well into July. Even as the summer moves along, most rivers are still running at normal or above normal levels.

Whitewater Rafting

Right here in the Vail valley we experienced outstanding rafting conditions on Gore Creek and the Eagle River. Now the Arkansas River and the Colorado River are also running at perfect levels. And with the warm summer weather that we’ve had, conditions have been ideal to be out playing in the water.

While our headquarters are here in Vail and most of our business comes from the Vail and Beaver Creek area, we offer a wide range of rafting options. From class II family floats to class IV and V adventures, it’s all available. In addition to our ‘home waters’ on Gore Creek, the Eagle River and the Colorado River, we also offer trips along the Arkansas, including the famed, “Numbers” section and Browns Canyon National Monument.

In case you didn’t see it, be sure and check out our blog post from last week, highlighting the Arkansas River and some of its highlights.

Rafting TripWith warm weather and great water levels, we expect rafting conditions this year to be excellent well into the fall. If you’re planning a summer trip to the Vail or Beaver Creek area, be sure and give us a call. While the summertime rafting is awesome, there’s also something very special about those early fall trips. After all, there’s nothing quite like September in Colorado!

If you have questions or would like more information on our trips, please call us at 970-476-3700 or send us a message. You can also find information on our other activities by exploring the rest of our website at SageOutdoorAdventures.com.

See you on the river!

The Spring Melt is Underway

Another late blast of snow across the Rockies last week dumped more than a foot of wet spring snow in some locations. This week, temperatures are back up into the 70s in many places across Colorado. The smaller creeks are filling up and water is starting to rise. The spring melt is underway!

Even this late in the year, the state’s snowpack currently stands at about 105% of normal. Runoff is just beginning and there’s still a ton of snow up high. Depending on how rapidly summer temperatures arrive, runoff this year could last weeks longer than normal. At its peak, this season will bring some epic whitewater rafting conditions!

In fact, much of the Arkansas River and the Colorado River are already at the low end of their runnable levels. It won’t be long before we’re entering prime rafting season! This will be a rafting season not to be missed. Give us a call at 970-476-3700 to reserve your spot. Or check out our rafting trips.

While the rafting community is celebrating an outstanding year of whitewater conditions, fly fishing enthusiasts might be less enthralled with the prospect of an extended high-water season. However, many veteran anglers will tell you that runoff is not the time of year to sit on the sidelines.

Among many in the fly fishing world, runoff gets a bad rap. Water is high, often muddy and many of your favorite holes might be unrecognizable. But that doesn’t mean the fishing isn’t great. I just means you have to fish it differently.

In some ways, runoff provides advantages that help offset the challenges. During high water, fish concentrate in predictable locations. They tend to get pushed out toward the banks and into any slack water where they can find reprieve. You may not be able to wade during runoff, but you probably don’t need to. With fish in these more reachable locations, they can be easily targeted from shore. Check out our fly fishing page for more information.

No matter what you find yourself doing this spring, whether you’ve got a paddle or a fly rod in your hand, have fun and enjoy all that Colorado has to offer! If you have questions about trips with Sage Outdoor Adventures, call us at 970-476-3700 or send us a message.