Colorado Snowpack & What it Means for Summer Rafting

Summer Season Rafting

We’ve enjoyed a fabulous winter season here in the Vail Valley. Snowmobiling has been a ton of fun with excellent snow conditions. But we’re also excited that spring is around the corner. All this snow means we’re going to have an incredible whitewater rafting season!

First, a big thanks to everyone who has joined us this winter on a snowmobile tour! We’ve enjoyed meeting and riding with each of you. Thanks to you, it has been an epic snowmobile season, exploring our private mountain at Castle Peak.

Snowmobile Tour

As we look forward to spring and the summer rafting season, we can’t help but get excited. After a relatively dry winter last year, the Snowpack in the Colorado high country is deep. And that means great rafting conditions ahead!

Currently, statewide snowpack is at 115% of normal levels. Right here in the Colorado River basin, we’re sitting at 113% of normal. With this much snow in the high country, we can expect an extended season for Gore Creek and the Eagle River. With the weather outlook, we expect both the Eagle and Gore Creek to run in prime conditions through mid-July.

When the Eagle River is at its peak, it’s some of the best whitewater in the country. If the prime season on the Eagle ran longer into the summer, it would rival the Arkansas River in use numbers. 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, this will be the year to do it!

Colorado Rafting trip

Meanwhile, over in the Arkansas River basin, snowpack is currently at about 124% of normal. After the spring thaw begins, we’re going to see a long, and memorable summer of whitewater rafting on the Ark.

The world-famous Pine Creek and Numbers sections of the Arkansas 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 2019 rafting season in Colorado is shaping up to be a memorable 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.

Colorado Snowpack Update from the Vail Valley

Snowpack here in the Vail Valley and along the Colorado River watershed has been excellent so far this season! After a dry winter last year, we are happy to experience great early season conditions into the New Year.

Snowmobile guests are having a blast here at our Mountain Base.  Snowpack in the Colorado River basin is currently over 100% of normal, and better than 150% compared to last year. We’ve enjoyed great snowmobile conditions so far this season, and storms keep bringing new snow.

Vail Snowpack Update

Our mountain base of operations is home to 2,500 feet of vertical. We have more than 100 miles of trails on a mountain larger than Vail ski area. These trails were custom-designed by the team at Sage, specifically for our guests. And with the best grooming equipment in the business, trails are always in prime condition.

Our snowmobile trails wind through a variety of expansive Colorado backcountry habitats. Our guests enjoy sweeping views of the Vail Valley and the Eagle River Canyon. It’s the perfect place to escape from the crowded ski slopes on a real mountain adventure.

With great snow conditions and a fleet of new Ski-Doo snowmobiles, we’re ready for you! By the way, in case you haven’t been on a snowmobile recently, these are not your grandfather’s smelly, noisy machines. New 4-stroke snowmobiles are extremely quiet and fuel-efficient. It is a great way to experience the Colorado backcountry. See our recent blog post about modern snowmobile technology to learn more.

To join us on a snowmobile adventure this winter, please give us a call at 970-476-3700. Or, explore the rest of our website to learn more about what we offer.

Elevate Your Holiday with A Mountain Snowmobile Adventure

We can’t think of a better way to celebrate the Holidays than with a big mountain snowmobile adventure! Seriously. Elevate your Christmas plans, and join us for a memorable experience on the snow!

Our private mountain is larger than Vail ski area and home to more than 100 miles of trails. From here, you’ll enjoy towering views that overlook the Eagle River canyon. Feel the wind as you gain speed through open meadows, winding through sage and mountain mahogany. Get a real taste of the Colorado backcountry, riding beneath impressive stands of aspen and spruce. The snowmobiling experience here is unforgettable.

We offer two-hour guided tours with three start times each day, plus other trip options to fit your needs. Hotel pickup is free. That leaves plenty of time for your other holiday plans. It makes a perfect group event. Our outstanding guides will make sure that beginners and advanced riders alike will have a great time.

For details and to book your Colorado mountain snowmobile adventure, check out our Snowmobile Trips Page or call us at 970-476-3700. See you on the mountain!

Holiday Snowmobile Adventure

Preparing For an Awesome Snowmobile Season

We are getting ready for an awesome snowmobile season here at Sage Outdoor Adventures! The sleds are getting tuned and ready, trail groomers are ready to rock and the snow is starting to fall in the Colorado high country!

Here at Sage, we are proud to offer our guests the very best snowmobile technology. We have a stable of 90 great sleds! We use all Ski-Doo snowmobiles. They are highly fuel-efficient four-stroke machines. They are incredibly quiet and offer superb handling.

With these high-end snowmobiles, we put our focus on our guests’ most-requested tour – and that’s the two-hour guided snowmobile tour. This is a perfect snowmobile experience for beginning riders. Skiing for half a day? Perfect! It’s so close to Vail and Beaver Creek, this is an ideal experience!

In addition to our two-hour guided tour, we also offer trips specifically for advanced riders. But no matter what tour you choose, our guides are there to be teachers. That is a major focus for all of our snowmobiling trips.

Our tours are NOT a “follow me and keep up” experience. We teach our guests how to ride their snowmobiles and have more fun on the snow. In fact, 50 yards from our starting point are some incredible practice meadows. Guests have the opportunity to learn the feel of their sled in a perfect, wide open setting. There are a total of 10 free-ride meadows scattered throughout our 6,000-acre playground.

Here at Sage, we have the benefit of operating on a massive, 6,000-acre private ranch. What does that mean for you? It means a comfortable base of operations with a heated lodge and real restrooms – not a port-o-potty beside Forest Service road. It also means 100 miles of perfectly groomed trails, views from the edge of the Eagle River Canyon, trails with views of six different mountain ranges and an unbelievable variety of terrain.

We operate with a very small guide-to-guest ratio. Therefore, we can customize every tour to each group. No two tours around here are ever the same! We want all of our guests to appreciate the joy and freedom of snowmobiling.

For more information about snowmobile tours with Sage Outdoor Adventures, please take a look at our Snowmobiling Page. If you have specific questions or would like to reserve your tour, please give us a call at 970-476-3700 or contact us online.

We look forward to seeing you on a Colorado snowmobile ride this season!

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!