Colorado Snow Update & White Water Rafting Forecast

Summer Season Rafting

Well, it has been an awesome winter season here in the Vail Valley and it seems nothing can stop all these smiles! Sage owner Darryl Bangert said it best, “Through our second year amid the pandemic, we’ve witnessed a big 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 continued to keep 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, as every year is. Winter seemed to arrive late, with a relatively dry start to the winter sports season. But as is so often the case, when the snow did arrive, it came with a vengeance. Since the holidays, snowpack across the state has hovered at or above median levels for much of the winter. 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 sits at about 95% of average levels with more spring storms in the forecast. With a high 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, we have a solid snowpack, which currently sits at about 94% of median. 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.

Technology Improves the Backcountry Snowmobile Experience

These aren’t your father’s snowmobiles. When arriving for a snowmobile tour, many of our guests are surprised at the change in snowmobiles since they last rode as a kid. Machines used to be noisy, and emit a strong smell of gas exhaust. But the modern snowmobile experience is something completely different.

Gone are the days of loud engines and the smell of exhaust. Ever since the pressure on snowmobile manufacturers to clean up emissions in places like Yellowstone National Park, the industry has responded with some incredible new technology. In addition to being cleaner, the new era of snowmobiles creates the opportunity for wilderness experiences like never before.

Modern snowmobiles boast new and efficient technology

Reduced Snowmobile Emissions due to New Technology

You might be surprised to learn that snowmobiles have an incredibly small carbon footprint, particularly compared to the amount of energy required to operate ski lifts. On an average snowmobile tour, your sled will use less than a gallon of gas. In the modern era of sled technology, snowmobile tours are an environmentally responsible and memorable way to experience the beautiful Colorado backcountry.

Upgraded Snowmobile technology allows for a quiet appreciation of nature

Sage’s Ski-Doo Snowmobiles

Here at Sage Outdoor Adventures, our guests get the very best in snowmobile technology. We are proud to have a lineup of 90 Ski-Doo Grand Touring Sport sleds. These snowmobiles feature 4 stroke engines, which are incredibly quiet, clean and very fuel-efficient. They are lightweight, comfortable and fun to ride!

They are so quiet that you’re more likely to hear the tracks turning on the snow than the engine itself. With extremely low emissions and no odor, there’s little else to distract from the beautiful mountain experience. In fact, the number one reason among guests to go snowmobiling is the wilderness experience.

Ski-Doo Snowmobiles offer top speed and agility

Today’s snowmobiles are much lighter with more horsepower than ever before. Improvements in clutching, throttle control, and suspensions offer an effortless riding experience, even in deep powder. What all that technology really means is that it’s an incredibly fun ride while maintaining a wonderful outdoor experience.

You can always count on Sage to have the best possible machines available. That’s because we are a Ski-Doo direct dealer, getting sleds direct from the factory and having factory-trained mechanics. Our snowmobiles are on a two-year rotation, guaranteeing our guests the newest and best technology available.

Explore our private mountain and more via Snowmobile

What to Expect while Snowmobiling

When you embark on that snowmobile tour, you can expect an outstanding Colorado mountain experience. Many of our guests have the opportunity to see wildlife that winters on the ranch. You’ll enjoy catching speed through some of our freshly groomed meadows, and winding peacefully through stands of aspen and spruce trees. And you’ll have to catch your breath as you see the incredible views over the Eagle River Canyon and the whole Vail Valley.

Snowmobiling in Vail, Colorado

Snowmobile technology has certainly changed dramatically over the past 15 years. If you haven’t experienced it, it’s time to hop on and take a ride! Be sure to check out our Snowmobiling Page.

If you have questions about tours or availability, please call us at 970-476-3700. You can also contact us online for information.

Welcome to Our Family Snowmobile Paradise

Family Snowmobile Tour

It’s our own little slice of heaven in Colorado. We’re blessed to enjoy this private mountain, all on a 6,000-acre ranch. It’s an incredible experience for families. And it’s an experience you won’t find anywhere else.

Our private mountain has more acreage than Vail ski area – without the lift lines. In fact, it’s exclusive to Sage guests. We’ve got the whole place to ourselves, creating an idyllic family snowmobile experience:

A Family Snowmobiling Adventure

Snowmobiling here is special, “because we put the trails where we want to put the trails.” All 100+ miles of them! A fleet of snowcats and grooming equipment maintains our custom-designed trail system that runs throughout this spectacular mountain area.

It’s an authentic, Colorado backcountry experience. You’ll experience the quiet stillness of snowy aspen groves and towering spruce forests. You’ll glide through open meadows and then look off the vertical red-rock cliffs of the Eagle River canyon.

Your friendly guides, outstanding trails, and a private mountain environment will make this a family experience to remember. Passengers as young as 5-years-old can enjoy a true Colorado mountain experience on the snow.

To learn more, please explore our Snowmobile Trips on the website. If you have questions or would like to speak with someone about a trip, please don’t hesitate to give us a call at 970-476-3700. We’d love to help you plan a memorable Colorado snowmobile adventure!

 

A Driver’s Side Look at Our Side-By-Side ATV Tours

ATV tour near Vail, Colorado

Your summer adventure isn’t complete until you experience a side-by-side ATV tour. This is like nothing you’ve ever experienced. When you feel the open air and the excitement of these 4×4 vehicles, riding on wild trails throughout our 6,000-acre private mountain, it will leave you speechless.

Tour a Private Mountain

Right here in the Vail Valley and close to Beaver Creek, we offer side-by-side ATV adventures on an area that’s larger than the Vail ski area – and it’s exclusively for Sage guests. We have the entire place to ourselves, to explore and to take in this wild, Colorado mountain experience.

Enjoy Custom-Built Side-by-Side Trails

Our side-by-side trails are custom-built, specifically for this purpose. Unlike some tours out there, these aren’t just old borrowed Forest Service trails. We’ve designed a trail system to maximize your experience on this epic mountain. We’ll cruise through open meadows full of wildflowers. We will twist and turn through aspen and spruce forests. And we’ll take in jaw-dropping views of the surrounding peaks and valleys.

Side-by-side ATVs

Catch a Glimpse of the Wildlife

The mountain is home to elk, deer, and a variety of wildlife. From here we can enjoy views of seven different mountain ranges, including the continental divide. We can even hike out to the rim of the Eagle River Canyon, and look off into the 2,400-foot gorge. It’s a special place, and we can’t wait to share it with you!

If you’d like to learn more about our side-by-side ATV tours, please click here where you’ll find pricing and the ability to book online. If you’d like to speak with someone here at Sage, don’t hesitate to give us a call at 970-476-3700.

See you on the mountain this summer!

ATV Tours in Colorado

The Snowcats of Sage Part 2: How to Operate a Snowcat

Snowcat Grooming

One of the things that make our snowmobile trips among the best in Colorado, is our fleet of snowcats and our grooming operation. Here on this 6,000-acre private mountain, we enjoy an incredible trail system of custom-designed snowmobile routes, all maintained for ideal riding conditions.

In case you missed the first part in this series, go check it out here. In this second part, we’re talking with Sage Outdoor Adventures owner and director of operations, Cole Bangert, on what it takes to drive a snowcat.

Driving a Snowcat

What’s Happening Behind the Wheel of a Snowcat

If you’ve ever seen snowcats grooming a ski hill, driving up and down the mountain, you might have no idea what goes into operating and maintaining these machines. And it’s probably more than you think!

According to Cole, the blade on the front of the machine is the most crucial part, that is the workhorse of the cat – of course aside from the motor and hydraulic pumps that drive it. But the more you can do with the blade, the better.

“The blade is made to roll snow and introduce heat into the snowpack through the rolling motion,” Cole told us. “Then, the snow passes underneath the tracks that pack the fresh snow downward. Finally, the tiller on the back of the machine reprocesses the snow and the plastic flaps leave the nice corduroy lines that you’re used to seeing on the ski hill. In one pass, going about 8 to 10 miles an hour, you can take a rough road or a very sloppy road, and turn it into a nice and firm, smooth surface.”

Grooming Snowmobile Trails for Pristine Driving

How much does a Snowcat Cost

Aside from the initial upfront cost of buying a snowcat, the expense of putting them on the snow is pretty high.

“We estimate that it costs about $400 every time you start and run the snowcat, even if it’s only for an hour,” Cole explained. “Of course the hourly expense goes up the longer that you’re out grooming. If you are grooming a lot, that means there’s tons of snow on the ground and that is a very good feeling. But it’s also a big cost to keep up with.”

Why so expensive to operate? A number of factors drive up the cost. From complicated parts to rough winter conditions, it’s not easy to keep a snowcat on the snow.

“Snowcats are mighty machines in a small package,” Cole added. “They run off diesel motors, usually Mercedes or Cummins diesel motors. And all the new snowcats also have an EPA-required regeneration system on the exhaust that tends to be very problematic.

“What’s more, the hydraulic pumps that power the tiller, the blade, and the drive tracks are extremely temperamental. Even one small droplet of water entering that hydraulic pump system can destroy a $35,000 hydraulic pump.”

Sage's Snowcat

Consider the fact that snowcats operate in sub-zero temperatures almost all the time. When you add very cold temperatures, very high pressures, and small moving parts, along with lots of snow and ice, it all adds up to frequent problems.

“Overall though, snowcats are very cool tools,” Cole emphasized. “And honestly, they are quite fun to drive.”

How to Drive a Snowcat

Make no mistake; it takes a very skilled driver. When driving a snowcat, many things are happening all at the same time.

“If you can pat your head and rub your tummy, then you’re a fraction of the way to being able to drive a snowcat,” said Cole. “You’ve got your drive sticks on the left-hand throttle, with your right foot on the windshield wiper and your left foot controlling the blade and tiller operations, while your right hand is on the joystick. And all the while, you’re trying not to run into trees and rocks or get stuck…and don’t forget the big one – trying not to dig holes!”

Driving a Snowcat takes a lot of focus

An easy way to spot a rookie snowcat driver is if you go on a trail that has the feel of a rollercoaster, up and down, up and down.

“It’s important to look ahead, judge your momentum, the snowpack, and snow density,” Cole explained. “You must cut where you need to cut, deposit where you need to deposit, but not overdo it because if you continually dig a hole and then deposit and then dig another hole and deposit, you’re just making one big roller-coaster trail. And it’s very difficult to fix once this has happened.”

It may be complicated. And it’s certainly not easy. But there’s no question that we’re extremely proud of our grooming operations here at Sage. In large part, it’s what makes our private mountain experience a fantastic one for our guests.

If you’d like to learn more about our guided snowmobile trips, please take a few minutes to look through the information on our Snowmobiling Page, and don’t hesitate to contact us with questions. We’d love to help you plan an unforgettable backcountry mountain experience!

The Famed Snowmobile Operator