Viewing Colorado’s Spectacular Aspen Displays

Changing Aspens in Colorado

Each September, the Colorado high country erupts in color, as mountainsides covered in aspen groves turn a brilliant gold and orange. The change typically begins by mid-September and reaches its peak near the end of the month.

Colorado Aspen Trees

About the Quaking Aspen

Aspens are one of the most widely distributed native trees to North America, but most of the continent’s aspen forests are located in Colorado and Utah. Here along the Vail Valley, we’re fortunate to have some expansive aspen groves. At our private mountain base, our guests enjoy horseback riding and ATV tours through some spectacular stands of old growth aspen trees.

In addition to bearing seeds, aspens primarily regenerate by sending up shoots and suckers from lateral root systems. That means an entire aspen grove could be comprised of just a few plants, or in some cases, even a single plant. This is what allows aspens to take the title for being the largest plant on earth!

Changing Aspens in Colorado

Viewing Colorado’s Aspen Trees

The colorful displays of aspen trees in September are beautiful when viewed from a distance, when entire mountains are streaked with highlights. However, the best way to enjoy aspen trees is to stand in their midst. Its full name is the quaking aspen (Populus tremuloides), because with even the slightest breeze, the entire canopy will tremble in the faint whisper of leaves.

It’s a very special thing, to stand beneath this shimmering roof with the September sunlight filtering through. If you’ve never experienced it, make it a point to spend some time beneath the aspens on your next trip to Colorado.

Aspen Trees near Vail

Adventures With Sage

Here at Sage Outdoor Adventures, we take pride in offering guided trips on a private mountain that contains more acreage than Vail Ski area. We experience the spirit of the old west on horseback rides across this historic ranch and bordering wilderness area. And we grin from ear to ear while cruising through this wild country with the wind in our face on side-by-side ATV rides.

Come enjoy the aspens, enjoy the mountains and capture quality time with your family or friends this September here in Colorado. For information on our trips, you can explore the rest of our website at SageOutdoorAdventures.com. Or you can call us with questions at 970-476-3700. We’d love to help you plan a memorable Colorado mountain adventure!

5 Tips For Fly Fishing Colorado’s Wilderness Rivers

Fly Fishing in Colorado

Fishing conditions on our private stretch of the Piney River are at their best. River flows have come down to the perfect level. And summer dry fly fishing continues to be outstanding. When it comes to fly fishing Colorado’s remote and scenic rivers, it doesn’t get any better than this!

Fly Fishing in Colorado

Fly fishing on small wilderness rivers, like the Piney River, comes with its own set of challenges and opportunities. Even our guests who are experienced anglers might learn a few new tricks if they are used to fishing on bigger waters.

Here are five tips to remember when fly fishing any of Colorado’s small wilderness rivers:

  1. 1. Pay Attention to Your Profile

The water here can be crystal clear. It’s beautiful, and it’s fun being able to spot the fish. But it’s important to remember that the fish can also see you.

Colorado Fly Fishing Trip

On a guided trip, pay attention to how our guides approach the river. When fishing small wilderness rivers, it’s important to be aware of your profile. If you walk right up to the edge of a cut bank and see the shadows of trout skittering across the river, you’ve gone too far.

Instead, you may need to approach the river cautiously. Don’t let your profile loom over the places where fish are most likely to be holding.

  1. 2. Make Upstream Casts

In many other situations, anglers are used to making quartering-upstream casts, allowing the fly to drift downstream, past the angler’s position.

Here on the Piney River, take note of where your guide positions you for the cast. When fishing these high alpine streams, it’s more common to make upstream casts, and allow the fly to drift back down toward the angler.

Fly Fishing in Colorado

Trout tend to face upstream in the current, opportunistically feeding on insects that come drifting down to them. By making an upstream cast, you’re approaching the trout from behind, where they are less likely to see you.

  1. 3. Start at the Bottom of a Run

When you approach a new run or riffle, it’s often beneficial to begin at the downstream or tailing end, and work your way up. This allows you to target the downstream fish first, without spooking the fish at the head of the run.

Vail, Colorado Fly Fishing

This technique isn’t unique to wilderness fishing. The same principle applies to larger rivers. However, it’s especially important on these small alpine waters. In such clear water, it’s easy to spook fish if you’re not careful. When you target fish at the bottom first, and then work your way upstream, you’ll maximize your opportunities.

  1. 4. Don’t Ignore the Little Pockets

Most anglers have a tendency to fish the biggest, most promising-looking runs and riffles on the river. But when you’re fishing on wilderness creeks, don’t skip over the small pockets. You might be shocked at where you’ll find big trout holding. This is true here on the Piney River and most other high country creeks.

Don’t be surprised when your guide asks you to make a cast into a surprisingly small and innocuous-looking piece of pocket water. These little holes can be full of surprises. You might only get a two-second drift through one of these little pockets. But sometimes, that’s all you need for a fish to attack your fly.

5. Stop and Look Up

When you’re fishing these mountain rivers, the fast-action fishing is exciting. On each cast, you’ll be expecting the water to blow up beneath your dry fly. It’s addicting. And while it’s tempting to keep your head down and tell yourself, “Just one more cast!” don’t forget to lift your eyes and look around you.

The scenery here on the Piney River Ranch is nothing short of stunning. Every once in a while, take a break from casting and enjoy what’s around you. Enjoying the mountain scenery here in Colorado is an important part of the experience.

Colorado Mountain Scenery

Join Us on the Piney River

Our private stretch of the Piney River near Vail is exclusively available to Sage guests, and receives no public fishing pressure. Additionally, our knowledgeable guides help maximize our guests’ experience. Whether you’re a beginner angler, or a crusty old veteran, we work hard to make the most out of your time on the water.

We offer half-day and full-day guided trips on the Piney. To learn more, please explore our Fishing Page. If you have questions about availability or other details, please contact us. We look forward to helping you plan a memorable fly fishing adventure!

Guided Fly Fishing Expeditions on The Piney River

Piney River Guided Fly Fishing

Here at Sage Outdoor Adventures, we are extremely proud to have exclusive access to the famed Piney River near Vail for guided fly fishing trips! 

Sage is the sole fly fishing outfitter on the Piney Valley Ranch, and it’s only available to our guests. We offer fully guided adventures to this pristine alpine stream, tucked away in the spectacular Colorado backcountry.

The Piney River is a classic, Colorado wilderness gem. With its headwaters at Piney Lake at the foot of the rugged Gore Range, this freestone river tumbles through a roadless wilderness canyon for 25 miles until its confluence with the Colorado River. 

As the Piney River approaches its confluence with the Colorado, it flows right through the Piney Valley Ranch, a sprawling, 30,000-acre mountain paradise. Guests of Sage Outdoor Adventures have exclusive access to a stretch of water has never been available to the public.

The team at Sage Outdoor Adventures was able to secure this premier fishing lease thanks to a longstanding relationship with the owners of Piney Valley Ranch, who previously owned Castle Peak Ranch. Castle Peak is where we offer ATV tours, snowmobiling, horseback riding and sporting clays. There were several reputable fly fishing businesses knocking on the door for the Piney River lease. But after seven years of working together at Castle Peak, and knowing first-hand the quality of Sage operations, the owners chose to sign with Sage.

We offer half-day and full-day trips to this remote, private stretch of the Piney River. Trips will include side-by-side ATVs to navigate the ranch and high-end fly fishing gear. Full day trips also include a streamside lunch.

The ranch will be limited to very few fishing guests each day to maintain a high quality experience. As with everything we do, we place a high priority on the quality of the fishing, the undisturbed wilderness experience, and the quality of guest service.

The exclusive fishing lease on the Piney Valley Ranch also includes a premier section of private water on the Eagle River. This will allow us to offer premium half-day trips just a few minutes from Vail and Beaver Creek.

In addition to these new private waters, Sage Outdoor Adventures will continue to offer guided float trips on the Eagle and Colorado Rivers.

If you’d like to learn more, please visit our Fly Fishing Page. If you’d like to chat with us in more detail or check availability, you can call us at 970-476-3700 or contact us online. 

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.

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.

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

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.

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

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. “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 lets 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.

Snowmobiles and the Real Backcountry Experience

Vail Snowmobile Ride

The recent changes in snowmobile technology are even more radical than the change in ski shape over the last 15 years. Emissions are incredibly low and the sport of snowmobiling is exploding. But what does that mean from an environmental perspective? How does snowmobiling compare to other winter sports in terms of its impact?

From young families to serious outdoor enthusiasts, snowmobiling is a fast-growing sport. Many skiers enjoy a quiet day away from the busy slopes and a chance to do something different with their families. Here at Sage, it’s not uncommon for us to see three-generations of riders together on a tour.

The number-one reason our customers say they go snowmobiling is to “experience the wilderness.” To us, this isn’t surprising at all. It’s true, that backcountry experience is the primary draw for most snowmobile riders.

Snowmobile TourUnfortunately, there’s also a great deal of misperception about snowmobiling. Some folks see them as noisy and polluting. In reality, neither is true. Our modern snowmobiles are incredibly quiet. You are more likely to hear the crunch of the tracks on the snow than you are the engine. And with low emissions and no smell, snowmobiles offer a perfect escape from the bustle of the ski slopes into the tranquility of the mountains.

Our 6,000-acre private mountain near Vail and Beaver creek is home to resident mule deer, elk and other wildlife. Our riders frequently see wildlife here on the mountain, where they stay undisturbed through the winter. In terms of environmental impact, a snowmobile ride is far more “green” than a day of riding ski lifts. All of our guided trips give our guests the opportunity to stop, look, listen and just enjoy being still in these stunning places.

In the end, our guests’ favorite part of these trips is also our favorite part. We’re here because we love the experience. We are skiers too. But a snowmobile ride offers the chance to escape from the crowds and experience the still silence of the backcountry and the mountains in winter.

For more information on our guided snowmobile tours, please take a look at our Snowmobiling Page. Or give us a call at 970-476-3700. We hope to see you here for a snowmobiling adventure soon!