Update From Our 2021 White Water Raft Guide Training

Raft Guide Training

We’ve had a blast at our annual Raft Guide Training Program and we’re excited to have a new class rookie river guides 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!

White Water Rafting Guide Training Requirements

As 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.

Colorado River Guide ClassThese 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 Training Different

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.

Colorado Rafting Guide Class

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!

The Snowcats of Sage Part 1: How to Maintain a Mountain

Snowmobile Trail Grooming Equipment

Here at Sage, we’re extremely proud of our fleet of professional snow grooming equipment. Not only do we offer an incredible variety of snowmobile trails across a 6,000-acre private mountain. But we also take great care in our trail design and grooming operations. Come ride with us on this mountain and we guarantee to put a big grin on your face.

While most snowmobile guide services rely on shared Forest Service trails with very little control over the conditions, we’re fortunate to operate on a private mountain larger than Vail ski area. Here, guests of Sage Outdoor Adventures have the whole place to themselves.

Grooming Mountain Snowmobile Trails

How to Maintain Groomed Mountain Trails

Operating on a private mountain means we’re able to custom-design our trail systems. And as soon as the snow starts flying, our snowcats keep those trails in excellent riding condition. But grooming trails and operating a snowcat it’s not as easy as turning a key and hitting a throttle. It takes practice and some serious snow-know-how.

We recently caught up with Sage Owner and Director of Operations, Cole Bangert, to talk about snowcats and grooming…and why it’s harder than it looks!

Sage’s Mountain Grooming Equipment

“This snowcat (pictured below) is a smallish-sized cat to fit our unique trails,” Cole began. “The size of this cat allows us to groom trails through aspen groves and in some unique places. We do have a bigger snowcat as well, like the size you would see up on the ski hill. We use that larger cat for our play meadows and some of the bigger trails with deep snowdrifts and more powder.”

Mountain Grooming Equipment

The snowcat pictured here is a Prinoth Husky. Sage purchased it brand new for $215,000.

Operating a Snowcat: Trees, Trails, and lots of Snow

“But getting the equipment is only the first step,” Cole told us. “Having someone capable of driving it is a whole other thing. These things have 12-way blades, plus the tiller operation. Once you master those, there’s the trick of actually driving it without hitting trees. Grooming trails in a snowcat takes multi-tasking to a new level.”

It certainly isn’t easy or cheap to operate a fleet of snowcats. But it’s a necessary investment to keep these snowmobile trails in prime condition.

“When grooming, the driver is always making assessments based on a variety of factors,” Cole explained. “You have to consider snow deposition, density, and wind direction. A good cat driver must also consider ‘snow farming’ or where we increase snow depth for future use. Whenever we’re pushing drifts around, we’re planning ahead for the springtime so that we can maximize trail depth as the days get longer and temperatures get warmer.”

Grooming Snowmobile Trails

These practices make for great snowmobile experiences throughout the winter, and they help extend our snowmobile season into the beautiful spring months here in the Colorado high country. There’s no doubt that driving a snowcat and grooming trails takes practice and skill. A great driver takes all these factors into account, all without running into trees along the way!

But according to Cole, the real secret and all you need to be the world’s best cat operator is right here:

What it takes to be a snowcat operator: a donut and coffee

If you’d like to learn more about our guided snowmobile trips, please take a few minutes to explore our snowmobiling information. We’d love to help you plan a memorable backcountry snowmobile adventure here in Colorado!

Don’t Just Ride a Snowmobile – Learn How to Drive One

We don’t offer a “follow the guide and keep up” kind of snowmobile tour. The experience at Sage Outdoor Adventures is something completely different. On a tour with us, you won’t just ride a snowmobile – you will truly learn how to drive one.

Our Snowmobile Guides

Our snowmobile guides are the best in the business: they are friendly, outgoing, and excellent teachers. Dedicated to having the most possible fun on any snowmobile ride means you’ll learn some new skills along the way, no matter how experienced you are at driving a snowmobile.

Learn how to drive a snowmobile at Sage

Each of our guided snowmobile tours is done with a very small guest-to-guide ratio. Because of that, we are able to customize every tour: no two rides are ever the same. Our guides will always make the effort to meet the needs of each group and make sure you feel comfortable on your machine.

The Perfect Setting to Learn

In addition to having a team of outstanding snowmobile guides, our base area is the perfect place to begin. Just 50 yards from the starting point, you’ll enter a giant “practice meadow” where you can learn the feel of driving your snowmobile in a pressure-free setting.

Our guests have the opportunity to cruise around the meadow and practice turns. Then you’ll be off to explore this giant winter wonderland!

With freshly groomed trails, practice meadows, and so much beautiful terrain to freely explore, you’ll learn how to snowmobile in the best possible setting. Our hope is that each of our guests will appreciate the joy and freedom of snowmobiling.

For more information on guided snowmobile tours with Sage, please take a few minutes to check out our snowmobiling page. We can’t wait to help you plan a memorable snowmobiling adventure.

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.

Center-Mount Frame Raft

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.

Rafters can choose from a variety of boats

Back-Mounted Frame Raft

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 the guide has the ability to move the boat without much power from guests.”

Rafts without an Oar Mount

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.

Certain Rafts encourage teamwork more than others

“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 guests alike. There is a lot of teaching and learning.”

Sage’s Custom Rafts

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. Sage's custom rafts are made in partnership with SOTAR“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 let’s 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.