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.

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.

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!

2018 Rafting Trips and Summer Adventure on the Horizon

Spring is here and we’re already looking forward with anticipation to some awesome 2018 rafting trips and summer adventures right around the corner!

Playing in the snow is a blast, but it’s usually around this time when we start dreaming of playing in the water. Before we know it, we’ll be pushing off for another awesome whitewater season. This summer, we will also be enjoying beautiful horseback rides, side-by-side ATV rides, fly fishing and sporting clays.

The 2018 rafting season in Colorado kicks off in May and we offer rafting trips to suit any group, from family-friendly outings to adrenaline-packed adventures.

First, our Float Series rafting trips are perfect families and groups of all ages. Explore the upper Colorado River and travel through scenic canyons while you enjoy splashing through waves and lazy swimming holes.

Next, our Adventures Series includes Class III whitewater trips with the excitement of rapids, plus some killer Colorado scenery. There are a wide variety of trips in the Adventure Series and we can easily customize these floats. They include stretches of the Colorado River, Gore Creek, the lower Eagle River and the world-renown Brown’s Canyon on the Arkansas River.

Finally, we offer some incredible Adrenaline Series trips for Colorado’s best nonstop whitewater action. The most famous stretches of river in Colorado are the Numbers and Pine Creek Sections of the Arkansas River. But don’t overlook the Eagle River. The Eagle is home to some awesome whitewater and we believe it’s one of the most underrated in Colorado.

In addition to these many rafting adventures, we’re looking forward to another summer of fun at our base of operations on a historic ranch near Vail. Here at our base, we’ve got 6,000 acres to explore on horseback and ATV. In this private setting, we have the mountain to ourselves where we’re free to explore Colorado’s alpine country. From here we enjoy views of seven different mountain ranges and overlooks of the jaw-dropping Eagle River Canyon.


For more information on our 2018 rafting trips and other summer adventures, please check out the rest of the website at SageOutdoorAdventures.com. You can also contact us online or give us a call at 970-476-3700.

Advanced Snowmobile Tours with Sage

Winter was slow to arrive here in Colorado, but snowmobile season is now well underway. Snowmobile tours have been great so far, and even more snow is on the way.

Most of our snowmobile tours are 2-hour beginner and intermediate tours that really teach our guests how to ride and get the most out of their snowmobile experience. However, we frequently receive questions about our advanced snowmobile tours.

Our advanced tour uses 120-horsepower Ski-Doo mountain snowmobiles. These sleds are designed specifically for off-trail riding.

These are incredible machines and on our advanced tours, we teach our guests how to ride in deep powder, climb steep hills and navigate thru trees. This is guaranteed to be the most exciting snowmobile ride you can do!

Just like our beginner and intermediate snowmobile tours, this is not a “follow the guide and keep up” kind of experience. We operate with very small guide-to-guest ratios. Each tour is personalized, and we take the time to make sure our guests are learning, having fun and really experiencing the thrill of the Colorado backcountry.

In addition to some exciting advanced snowmobiling terrain, we have 10  free-ride meadows scattered throughout the 6000-acre ranch. These wide-open spaces allow everyone to get their throttle therapy. With our high-end grooming equipment, these free-ride areas are groomed on a regular basis.

The snowmobiling experience here is different. On a 6,000-acre ranch that’s bigger than Vail ski area, there are no other tour operators. You’ll have the place to yourself with more than 100 miles of custom-designed trails! Our three snowcats keep trails in prime condition, so that you can enjoy the thrill of the ride. From the ranch, you’ll enjoy views of seven mountain ranges, the continental divide and the 2,400-foot chasm into the Eagle River Canyon.

For more information on snowmobile tours with Sage Outdoor Adventures, please explore the rest of our website at SageOutdoorAdventures.com or call us now at 970-476-3700.