Runoff is Coming, Prepare for Your Rafting Adventure

This year’s runoff is shaping up to be a memorable one! There’s a ton of snow in the high country and recent storms have continued adding to our snowpack. Statewide throughout Colorado, snowpack is currently over 140% of normal. Here in the Colorado River basin, snowpack is currently 138% of normal. And over in the Arkansas River basin, it’s 148% of normal! It’s going to be a long, high water season on our rivers.

As you prepare for your summer rafting adventure, there are a few things to think about. First, is what to bring. The list is pretty simple but you’ll want to make sure you have a few key items. Here’s the rundown.

On every rafting trip we provide a helmet, a wetsuit on cool days, a splash jacket, a PFD and wetsuit booties.

You should bring your swimsuit, and wear it underneath your street clothes for the ride to the river. On hot, sunny days when we’re not wearing wet suits and splash jackets, you might want to wear a cover shirt for sun protection. We also recommend that you wear and bring sunscreen and chapstick. If you plan to wear your sunglasses on the raft, don’t forget Croakies or Chums to keep them in place! Finally, bring cash to tip your guide (18% is normal).

Check out this quick video, as Cole and Kyle explain what to bring and why:

With your bags packed, you are all set for your whitewater rafting adventure. It’s going to be an epic season here in Colorado, and we hope to see many of you on the river. As you prepare for the trip, how about some questions you might want to ask your guide? Here are a few things you might want to ask while you’re on the river:

  • How does this water compare to other times of the year?
  • What animals may we see on the water today?
  • What’s your favorite part of being a rafting guide?
  • What do you do during the off-season?
  • What other stretches of river do you run?
  • Where is the best swimming hole?
  • Ask about the history of the area.
  • Ask for any crazy river guiding stories they have!

If you’d like more information on rafting with Sage Outdoor Adventures, please be sure to check out our Rafting Page. And explore the rest of our website to see all the other fun activities we offer, including horseback riding, ATV tours, fly fishing and sporting clays!

For details, availability and booking call us at 970-476-3700 or contact us online.

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!

Joe Tomasic Joins the Team at Sage Outdoor Adventures

We are pleased to announce a new addition to our team of skilled experts in the outdoor recreation industry. Joe Tomasic has joined Sage as General Manager and will lead the development of several new programs. 

Tomasic is a long-time Vail Valley local, outdoorsman and entrepreneur. In fact, Sage owners Darryl and Cole Bangert worked closely with Tomasic when they founded Lakota River Guides together more than 20 years ago. 

“Joe brings decades of operational and work-integrated leadership experience and we’re thrilled to be working with him once again,” said Sage owner Darryl Bangert. 

A Vail Valley resident for more than 26 years, Tomasic continues to work as a business broker specializing in the sale of resort based businesses, along with niche markets in the software, start-up, outdoor recreation, transportation and oil & gas industries.  

Tomasic has owned, operated and sold many successful businesses. Additionally, he has provided strategic, personalized counsel to individuals and companies in areas of business sales and acquisitions, private debt and equity financing, and succession planning.

With a passion for start-up companies, Tomasic worked with Phil Horsman to build the world’s first large-scale ski rental delivery operation, All Mountain Sports. Later, they built All Mountain Transportation into the largest independently owned limousine service on Colorado’s Western Slope and sold that business in 2008.

At Sage Outdoor Adventures, Joe will focus on developing a newly purchased property near Dotsero, Colorado along the Colorado River. This project will include a large, recreation-based facility to serve Sage’s rafting clients, as well as a rental facility open to the general public. 

The Dotsero outpost, called Colorado River Sports (C.R.S.), will offer daily rentals for bikes, stand-up paddleboards, tubes, rafts and duckies. The facility will offer food service, retail and a large pavilion. A shuttle service will be available along with river rentals

Additionally, Tomasic will be working to develop the newly acquired fishing access on the Piney Valley Ranch. The Piney River flows through the heart of the ranch, and Sage Outdoor Adventures is now the exclusive fly fishing outfitter on the property.  

As Sage continues to grow its services in these areas, Tomasic’s role as General Manager will be to ensure that the company utilizes these resources responsibly, and provides a level of service that sets the bar for all others to be measured by.

Announcing Our New Colorado River Outpost at Dotsero

Colorado River Outpost

We are thrilled to announce the purchase of a new property along the Colorado River near Glenwood Canyon. On this new property, we’ve got big plans to build a river outpost called Colorado River Sports (CRS). The new CRS outpost will include a recreation hub for rafting guests, as well as daily river rentals and bike rentals.

We’ve operated on this stretch of river for years, enjoying the newly renovated BLM river access point located near Dotsero, Colorado. When a piece of land adjacent to the boat launch became available, we jumped at the opportunity.

The land had previously been used as a storage facility and required major renovations. Immediately following the purchase, we began to clean the property and hauled away more than 30,000 pounds of trash and more than 200 abandoned tires.

“We immediately received calls from neighbors, thanking us for getting things cleaned up on the property,” said Joe Tomasic General Manager at Sage Outdoor Adventures.

The renovation work has already begun and we are excited to open Colorado River Sports. It will serve as a river outpost for Sage’s rafting trips, providing a meeting point and lunch spot for guests.

We will be launching several new programs at the site, including daily river rentals. Open to the public, Sage will offer equipment rentals for unguided trips. The available equipment will include stand-up paddleboards, duckies, rafts and tubes. A river shuttle service will be available.

Additionally, we will be opening a full service dinning facility at the outpost. This facility will be available to everyone enjoying the area in and around Colorado River Sports.

Along with river rentals, we will provide bicycle rentals at the Dotsero outpost. These will include E-bikes, comfort bikes and high-performance road bikes. The rental location offers easy access to the Glenwood Canyon bike path and many other local trails.

The leadership team here at Sage Outdoor Adventures includes serious bike enthusiasts, who are chomping at the bit to expand our cycling program. Owner Cole Bangert is an avid biker and competed professionally on the World Cup Downhill Circuit. Cole represented the US at three World Championships in Italy, New Zealand Scotland.

Sage General Manager Joe Tomasic is an accomplished bike mechanic and has nearly a decade of experience in the cycling industry.

River and Bike Rentals will be available beginning in June 2018. The Dotsero facility will officially break ground in the fall of 2018 and is scheduled to be completed by the spring of 2019.

For more information about our adventures, please explore the rest of our website. If you’d like to book a trip, ask questions or check availability, please contact us online or call us at 970-476-3700.

Colorado River Rafting

Colorado Rafting Trips That Must be On Your Radar

Take it from your favorite paddle junkies. We’ve had the opportunity to explore rivers all over our home state. Colorado is home to some incredible rafting adventures. If you haven’t had the opportunity to explore many of them, let us fill you in.

Here are the Colorado rafting trips that must be on your radar:

Northwest Colorado:

Our state’s namesake river, the Colorado River offers a number of great stretches that can be done in a day. From the mouth of Gore Canyon, all the way down into Glenwood canyon, there are a number of day-trip sections suitable for a wide range of abilities.

The Eagle River also offers some outstanding day-trip stretches. Check out the upper Eagle from Minturn to Edwards and the lower Eagle River from Wolcott to the town of Eagle.

Another Norwest Colorado favorite of ours is the Roaring Fork, particularly the Slaughterhouse section.

The Yampa River offers visitors the chance to experience a 5-day wilderness trip. The scenery will leave you dumbfounded, and then you add in the class III and IV whitewater, and this one is a winner.

Southwest Colorado:

The Animas River is a great one near Durango that offers excellent day trips. The Animas has everything from family friendly trips to difficult whitewater.

The San Juan River is unique in that visitors can experience an extended, 7-day wilderness adventure. With no difficult rapids, it’s great for families with young children. You will feel like you are the first person to ever be there.

The Dolores River also offers overnighters, from 3-day to 7-day wilderness trips. The Dolores travels through different micro-climates, starting in the mountains with tall ponderosa pines, and then turning into a classic desert canyon trip near the Utah border.

Southeast Colorado:

The Arkansas River is the undisputed Jewel of southeast Colorado and perhaps some of the most famous whitewater in the state. Well known sections of the Arkansas include Pine Creek, Numbers, Browns Canyon, Bighorn Sheep Canyon and the Royal Gorge. With great day trips that are easy to reach from the front range, it’s easy to see why rafting trips on the Ark are so popular.

Northeast Colorado:

The Poudre Canyon is a Front Range favorite. This Wild & Scenic river is home to day trips just outside Fort Collins, Colorado on class III sections of the lower Poudre.

The North Platte River is a hidden gem in Colorado. But don’t let its sleepy status fool you.  The Wild & Scenic North Platte offers some awesome multi-day wilderness trips that cross from Colorado up into Wyoming.

Clear Creek is a popular paddling playground that’s close to Denver and the Front Range metro area. Visitors here can enjoy day trips on several different sections of Clear Creek.

adventure raft

If you’d like to learn more about the awesome Colorado rafting trips that we offer here at Sage Outdoor Adventures, please check out our Rafting Page. You can also contact us online or simply give us a call at 970-476-3700.