Featured River: The Arkansas River

Rafting on the Arkansas River in Colorado

Whitewater rafting has always 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 rivers, go back and check out our profile on the Shoshone rapids through Glenwood canyon. Also check out the upper Eagle River and Gore Creek, which offer some of Colorado’s best early-season rafting from Vail, down through Avon and Beaver Creek.

Arkansas River: Colorado’s Ultimate Rafting River

This time, let’s talk about the Arkansas River. The ‘Ark’ is well-known in Colorado for its 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 snowmelt periods, like you see on the Eagle River or Clear Creek.”

Colorado's Arkansas River is perfect for rafting

Enjoy Stunning Views while Rafting

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. Raft the Arkansas River as a group!Brave Arkansas River's whitewater rapids

Tackle Arkansas River’s Powerful Rapids

“The upper stretches of the Arkansas River 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.

Float through a National Monument

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.

Sage’s Summer Whitewater Rafting Trip Options

Rafting with Sage Outdoor Adventures

Ready for summer and some warmer weather? Tell us about it! Here at Sage, the summer season offers an endless array of adventures, including one of our favorites: whitewater rafting!

As the sun starts to shine and melt the heaps of snow winter brought, spring runoff flows down the mountains of central Colorado and announces the beginning of rafting season. From whitewater adventures to scenic family float trips, the wild rivers of Colorado are the perfect setting for lifelong memories.

A Guide to Our Rafting Trip Options

Thinking about joining us on one of the rivers? Below, Cole Bangert and Joe Tomasic give some insight into the rafting trip options that we have available at Sage. Then, take a look at our rafting classifications and book a trip!

 

Class II Rafting Trips

Our rafting trips on the upper Colorado River are perfect for families of all ages. You’ll raft through incredible canyon scenery, experience small rapids, and have plenty of time to play and splash in the River. Participants as young as 3 years old can get in on the fun.

Class III Rafting Trips

We have a wide variety of Class III trips available on the Colorado River, Gore Creek, the lower Eagle River, and the Arkansas River. These whitewater trips are a ton of fun! Some of our class III trips are available to rafters as young as 6-years-old, while others can be more challenging. Depending on the age of participants, how much time you have, and what you’d like to experience, we can help plan the perfect summer rafting adventure.

Class IV+ Rafting Trips

For the adventure seekers, we have incredible class IV and V trips available on the upper Eagle River and the Arkansas River. For rafters ages 16 and up, these are some memorable trips on some of the best whitewater in the country!

If you have questions or if you’d like to begin planning your summer trip, please give us a call at 970-476-3700 or check out our rafting activity page. We’d love to help you plan the ultimate summer adventure!

Take a Summer Rafting Trip down one of Colorado's many rivers

What You Need to Know About Fly Fishing the Piney River

Piney River Fly Fishing

The state of Colorado is often known for its towering mountains and graded river canyons. But there are portions of Colorado that lend to its defining features far more than others. Sitting around 12,000 feet in elevation, the Gore Range is one of those places. One of the rivers born from this textbook Colorado landscape is the Piney River near Vail, Colorado.

Tumbling 28 miles from its headwaters, the Piney River is a long tributary of the Colorado River. The headwaters begin at Piney Lake before stretching through a rugged wilderness canyon until it ultimately feeds into the Colorado River.

Often overshadowed in name by nearby well-known rivers like the Eagle River and Colorado River, the Piney is an absolute gem. And not just for its majestic exposure to the Gore Range’s towering beauty. The Piney River offers some of the best freestone fly-fishing in the state of Colorado.

The Piney River near Vail, Colorado

Fly Fishing the Piney Valley Ranch

Located just above its confluence with the Colorado River, the Piney River flows through the spectacular, Pine Valley Ranch. This stretch is the crème de la crème of the Piney River. And access to this private stretch of water is only available to guests of ​Sage Outdoor Adventures.

Sage is fortunate to have a long-standing relationship with the owners of Piney Valley Ranch and the exclusive lease to guide trips on these waters. When you book a fishing trip with Sage, you’ll have this historic ranch, this beautiful river canyon, and this world-class trout fishery all to yourself.

The Piney Valley Ranch encompasses seven river miles of private water. And the guide service at Sage Outdoor Adventures checks all of the boxes.

Piney River Guided Fly Fishing

Tips for Fly Fishing the Piney River

Peak fishing conditions on the Piney River begin immediately after runoff subsides, usually in late June and will continue through the early fall. These summer and fall months bring consistent water levels and prolific hatches of mayflies and caddis. Mid-summer and early fall is also an excellent time to fish terrestrials like hoppers, beetles and ants. Whether you prefer to throw dry flies, nymphs, or swing streamers through the deeper runs, all of it is available here on the Piney.

Because these fish see very little pressure, they tend to be aggressive and not very selective. But the guides at Sage will help you pick the best patterns for the conditions and the time of year. While these trout can usually be fooled by a variety of fly patterns, the low, clear water conditions later in the summer often require a stealthy approach. Prepare to approach from downstream and make upstream casts to avoid being seen.

No matter the time of year you decide to take on the Piney, it’s important to keep in mind that the higher altitude provides less protection from the sun, so wear and reapply sunscreen throughout the day for the duration of your trip. Anglers will want to bring a hat and long sleeves. And we’d recommend a buff to cover your neck. As far as the weather is concerned, there is a common saying in Colorado that, “if you don’t like the weather, just wait five minutes.” From cold temperatures in the morning to the intense midday sun, to afternoon thunderstorms, be prepared to experience it all. Dress in layers so that you can quickly adjust to the changing conditions.

Guided Fly Fishing Trips give you access to local tips and tricks

Piney River: A Gore Range Freestone Tributary

It would be difficult to overstate the quality of the fishing on the Piney River as it runs through Piney Valley Ranch, or the beauty of this canyon and the surrounding scenery. The only way to truly understand it is to come experience it for yourself.

Learn more about guided fly fishing trips with Sage Outdoor Adventures and reserve dates for your adventure today! Or, give the folks at Sage a call at 970-476-3700. Come experience the Piney River this summer with Sage!

Find tips to fly fishing the Piney River

Written by the Staff at Riversmith

Colorado Fly Fishing Trips Are Now Underway

Colorado Fly Fishing

The spring season has officially begun here in the Vail Valley! We are now running guided fly fishing trips on the Eagle River and Colorado River. Spring conditions are fantastic and it has been an awesome start to the season in Colorado!

Colorado Fly Fishing

Reserve Your Guided Fishing Spot

We have openings through this month on the Eagle and Colorado rivers. Reservations are now open for the rest of the summer on these waters, as well as the Piney River – an epic stretch of private water along one of Colorado’s most spectacular wilderness river canyons. Guides are limited, so please give us a call now to reserve your spot this season – 970-476-3700. Or check out our fishing page to learn more.

What to Expect During Early Season Fishing

Early season fishing on the Colorado River and Eagle River brings excellent water conditions and some memorable dry fly hatches – most notably, blue-winged olives. As we get later in the spring, we will begin to see caddis hatches along both rivers. With runoff in late May and June, we will see higher water flows, as well as hatches of big salmonflies. When runoff subsides, dry fly fishing remains consistent through the warmer months – including hopper fishing. Nymphing and streamer tactics are also effective throughout the season.

Fly Fishing Trips Near Vail and Beaver Creek

Fly Fishing with Sage

If you’re in the Vail or Beaver Creek area this summer, consider joining us on a fishing trip to the Piney River. It’s an experience you’ll never forget! We have exclusive access to 7 miles of this incredible freestone river. The Piney River tumbles out of the rugged Gore Range and into a jaw-dropping wilderness canyon. As it flows through the 30,000-acre Piney Valley Ranch, Sage guests have exclusive access to this wild and scenic river, loaded with trout. It’s truly an angler’s paradise.

To learn more and to reserve your spot, please give us a call at 970-476-3700 or visit the fishing page.

Fly Fishing on the Eagle River

Colorado Snow Update & White Water Rafting Forecast

Summer Season Rafting

Well, it has been an awesome winter season here in the Vail Valley. Even a global pandemic can’t stop all these smiles! Sage owner Darryl Bangert said it best, “COVID has led to a huge demand to get outside and reconnect with nature,” he said. “Seeing our guests come alive during these trips is very rewarding for our staff.”

An outdoor snowmobile adventure is the ultimate socially distanced activity and we have excellent safety protocols in place. Snowmobiling throughout this season has been a ton of fun. Recent storms have led to great snow conditions. And now, we’re excited that spring is around the corner. Before we know it, we will be making the transition from snowmobiling to rafting season!

Snowmobile Tour in Vail, Colorado

Colorado’s White Water Rafting Season

As we look forward to spring and the summer rafting season, we can’t help but get excited. This winter was unique with big early-season storms during the late fall – followed by a relatively dry period around the holidays. Fortunately, we’ve had a snowy February and early March. Snowpack across the state is catching up. Lots of snow on the mountains means great rafting conditions ahead!

Gore Creek and Eagle River Rafting Conditions

Right here in the Colorado River basin, the current snowpack is about 85% of normal with more spring storms in the forecast. With a near-average snowpack in the high country, we can expect good early season rafting on Gore Creek and the Eagle River, which are some of Colorado’s best early summer trips.

In fact, when the Eagle River is at its peak, it’s some of the best whitewater in the country. 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, don’t wait – come experience it this year!

Colorado White Water Rafting Trip in March

Arkansas River Rafting Conditions

Meanwhile, over in the Arkansas River basin, the snowpack currently sits about 90% of normal. This is the most famous stretch of whitewater in Colorado for good reason. Once the spring thaw begins, we’re in for a memorable summer of whitewater rafting on the Ark.

The world-famous Pine Creek and Numbers sections of the Arkansas River 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 2020 rafting season in Colorado is shaping up to be a great 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.