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.

Not To Be Missed: Catch Peak Season on the Eagle River

Whitewater Rafting Trip

The months of May and June are peak season on the Eagle River. If you’re going to be in Colorado during these months, this is a rafting opportunity that you should not miss!

During its brief but intense season, the Eagle River is home to some of the best whitewater in the country. From the wild upper section that includes the famous Dowd Chute, all the way down to the playful lower section into the town of Eagle, the Eagle River may not be Colorado’s most famous rafting – but could easily be the most underrated.

“True river enthusiasts visit the Eagle River in droves during peak season,” said Sage owner and guide, Cole Bangert. “If the Eagle had a longer peak season, it would easily rival the Arkansas River in the number of visitors annually.”

The Eagle River is powered by snowmelt, resulting in a rafting season that runs from May through June and sometimes into early July. The excellent rafting is in large part due to a massive elevation drop. This steady gradient produces awesome rapids throughout the entire stretch.

Between the Upper Eagle, the Middle Eagle and the Lower Eagle, we offer three different rafting experiences during this peak runoff season. Here’s a look at each of those rafting trips:

The Upper Eagle and Dowd Chute

The steep gradient of the Eagle River is most obvious in is upper section. Beginning near the town of Minturn, the steady drop creates an epic rafting experience that includes nearly 10 miles of waves and big rapids. This is a serious rafting adventure that’s suitable for ages 16 and up.

The Eagle River’s most famous stretch is found in this upper section – and that’s Dowd Chute.

“This section of the Eagle River is class 4-plus,” Cole commented. It’s a fast, steep, fire hose type of rapid. By the time we clear the last wave, paddlers in the front of the boat might be siting in the laps of the folks in the back of the boat”

Check out the following video to learn more about our rafting trips on the Upper Eagle.

The Middle Eagle River

After Dowd chute, the fun continues. From the bottom of Dowd Chute to the town of Edwards, paddlers enjoy 10 miles of outstanding class 3-plus whitewater. This is a great rafting experience for adventurous paddlers ages 13 and up.

The Middle Eagle River comes to a crescendo with the “Edwards Mile”, a mile-long class 4 rapid with big waves the entire way.

To learn more about rafting trips on the Middle Eagle, take a look at this brief video:

The Lower Eagle

Rafting trips on the Lower Eagle River begin near the town of Wolcott and end in the town of Eagle. Like the rest of the Eagle River, this stretch features a continuous wave train of rapids. The big waves on the lower stretch are a ton of fun, and this is a great trip for families ages 10 and up.

Like the rest of the Eagle River, the peak season on this lower stretch runs during the months of May, June, and occasionally into early July. Paddlers will enjoy awesome scenery, floating through the dramatic red rock walls of the Eagle River canyon. The trip finishes off in the new whitewater park right in the town of Eagle.

Take a look at the video below to learn more about rafting trips on the Lower Eagle River.

If you’d like to learn more about rafting the Eagle River during peak season this year, please visit the Rafting Page on our website or call us at 970-476-3700. Runoff this season is going to be epic, so jump on the opportunity to raft the Eagle River this year!

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

Colorado River Outpost

We’ve enjoyed 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. While the local news loves reporting about dry conditions and forest fires, we’re enjoying great rafting! The Arkansas and Colorado Rivers are dam-controlled waters with consistent flows and awesome rapids!

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. 

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!

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.