The Upper Eagle River: Colorado’s Ultimate Whitewater Trip

Whitewater Rafting the Upper Eagle

When it comes to whitewater rafting in Colorado, many folks immediately think of the Arkansas River – and for good reasons. The Ark is Colorado’s most well known rafting destination because it offers consistent conditions all summer long.

But what if we told you that some of the best whitewater rafting in Colorado was on the upper Eagle River? Would you be surprised? It’s true. When it’s in season, the upper Eagle is not only some of the best whitewater in the state – it’s among the best in the world.

The only reason the Eagle River can’t compete with the Arkansas in terms of popularity, is because the season is short. But in part, that’s what makes it special. If you can catch the upper Eagle River during its prime time in May and June, you’re in for an unforgettable rafting adventure.

The upper Eagle River takes rafters down a 10-mile roller coaster of nearly continuous rapids. The steep gradient and steady drop makes this river a fire hose experience. Minimum age on this trip is 16 years old and we recommend it for those who are strong swimmers and ready for adventure.

Whitewater Rafting in Colorado on the Eagle River

This world-class stretch of whitewater is located right here locally, between Vail and Beaver Creek. This makes it an easy half-day trip for those staying here in the Vail Valley. You certainly can’t beat having rafting like this, just minutes from Vail’s hotels and restaurants.

Again, the season is short. But if you find yourself in the Vail Valley in May or June, put a rafting trip on the Upper Eagle River at the top of your to-do list. It’ll be one of the most memorable whitewater trips you ever experience.

To learn more about our rafting trips and pricing, please visit the Rafting Page. You can also call us with any questions at 970-476-3700.

Whitewater Rafting the Upper Eagle

Stay Cool, It’s The Perfect Time for A Rafting Adventure

Colorado River Outpost

We are enjoying warm summer temperatures in Colorado and it’s a perfect time to be out on the water. When it’s hot in town and on the mountain, you know it’s time for a rafting adventure! 

Rafting conditions in central Colorado are awesome. With the big runoff and high water levels this year, rivers are still running at or above average. Warm weather combined with big water provides late-summer rafting at its finest.

The Upper Colorado River and the Shoshone Rapids in Glenwood Canyon are perfect activities for a hot summer day. We have half-day trips available in the mornings or afternoons, and there’s no better way to cool off.

Browns Canyon and The Numbers sections of the Arkansas River are “must do” trips here in Colorado. We have 3/4 and full day trips available on these famous stretches of the Arkansas.

Here at Sage, we’re proud to have a wide range of rafting experiences. We can help you plan the perfect trip for a group of any age or experience level. Here’s a quick overview of our rafting adventures: 

Float Series (Class II) 

Our Float Series rafting adventures are perfect for all ages. These trips on the upper Colorado River travel through beautiful canyons where you’ll enjoy splashing through waves and leisurely swimming holes. We even offer a Ducky Trip, giving you the opportunity to captain your own two-person raft! For more information, check out our Float Series.  

Adventure Series (Class III)

Our Adventures series whitewater rafting trips provide the excitement of rapids and spectacular Colorado canyon scenery. You won’t be able to wipe the grin off your face. These trips are widely varying depending on the season and interests of your group. Find more details on our Adventure Series.

 Adrenaline Series (Class IV & V) 

Our Adrenaline Series trips offer some of the best nonstop action on the most well known stretches of whitewater in Colorado.  Experienced rafters will tell you that the Numbers and Pine Creek Sections of the Arkansas River are some of the best. Check out our Adrenaline Series. 

A Variety of Rafting Options with Sage

Here at Sage, we operate on a wide variety of rivers. This gives us a ton of options, depending on the time of year, and depending on the needs of each group. For an in-depth look at these options, have a look as Joe and Cole explain:

To reserve your dates this summer, call us now at 970-476-3700 or contact us online. It’s hot outside, so let’s plan your rafting adventure!

Featured River: The Arkansas River

The whitewater rafting season has 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 river, go back and check out our profile on the Eagle River, which offers some of Colorado’s best seasonal rafting from Vail, down through Avon and Beaver Creek.

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

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. 

“The upper stretches of the Arkansas 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.

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.

Rafting Season Update and the Latest River Conditions

Summer Season Rafting

Rafting season has arrived in Colorado, and we’re looking forward to a great summer of fun on the water. Snowpack statewide topped out at over 130% of normal this year! That’s a ton of snow that’s now creating ideal rafting conditions.

Here in the Vail Valley and the rest of the Colorado River basin, runoff has begun and water levels are on the rise. We’re seeing great conditions on some of our favorite local waters, including Gore Creek and the Eagle River.

Colorado Rafting trip

Over in the Arkansas River basin, high water season is definitely here! Flows on the Ark are big, and getting bigger by the day. With all the snowpack coming down off the mountains, this is going to be a memorable peak season.

While summer temperatures are warming up, and runoff is brining higher water levels, there is still a ton of snow yet to melt up in the high country. Not only did we have a bigger than average snowpack in Colorado this year – but it’s also hanging on longer than normal.

Current snowpack in the Arkansas basin is more than double the average for this time of year. And in the Vail Valley, the Colorado River basin is holding on to more than three times the average amount of snowpack for mid-June.

All that to say, it’s going to be a long, fun season of rafting around here! If you’re planning a trip to Colorado this summer, rafting should be on your itinerary. Rafting conditions don’t get much better than this.

We offer a variety of different trips to suit families or groups of all ages. From big rapids and whitewater trips, to float trips that are appropriate for the entire family, we can help you plan the perfect Colorado mountain adventure.

To learn more about rafting with Sage Outdoor Adventures, please explore our Rafting Page. You can book or chat with us online. Or give us a call at 970-476-3700 to begin planning your trip. We hope to see you on the river this summer!

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.