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!

Looking Forward to Rafting Season on Gore Creek

As we wind down the winter snowmobile trips, and begin looking forward to summer rafting, we’d like to introduce you to some of the incredible stretches of whitewater here in Colorado.

It’s only appropriate to begin by talking about one of our favorite early season trips, Gore Creek. Gore Creek is our local favorite here in the Vail Valley. If you’ve never had the opportunity to raft Gore Creek, you need to make time! And with the high snowpack this season, this will be a year to remember! Gore Creek will be running high well into the summer.

Gore Creek is special for a couple of reasons. First, it flows right through the heart of Vail Village, and the scenery is spectacular. Second, the rafting season on Gore Creek is relatively short. You have to catch it during its brief window each year. And a year like this with a high snowpack is the perfect chance to catch it at its peak!

Gore Creek is fed only on snowmelt. The season begins shortly after the lifts close at Vail ski area, as soon as the snowmelt and runoff begins. May and June are the ideal times to experience the incredible whitewater on Gore Creek.

Gore Creek features awesome Class III rafting from East Vail to Lionshead Village. This river epitomizes what we refer to as, “play boating”. In addition to the fun rapids, this stretch features man-made holes and waves along the way, including the well-known International Wave in Vail Village. These areas provide opportunities to “surf” the raft and swing in and out of rapids. It would be difficult to have more fun in a raft than you’ll have right here in the heart of Vail.

The scenery all the way through the upper Vail Valley along Gore Creek is what really makes this trip memorable. The towering cliffs, waterfalls, aspens, and wildlife along this stretch are incredible.

Finally, one of the nice things about rafting Gore Creek is the quick transfer times. If you’re staying in Vail, you’re already on the river and just minutes from the put in. At the takeout in Lionshead, you can easily walk right back into town. If you’re staying in Beaver Creek, you can expect a quick, 15-minute drive to and from the river.

With such easy access and world-class rafting right here in Vail, it’s no wonder we love this short but sweet season on Gore Creek!

To learn more about our whitewater rafting adventures, please check out the Rafting Page and watch the quick video below featuring Gore Creek.

Start planning your trip now! You can call us at 970-476-3700 or you can contact us online.

The Summer Season is a Wrap – Time to Think About Snow

Summer Season

Fall is in the air and we are already getting stoked for snowmobiling season here in Colorado! But before we jump straight into winter sports mode, we want to say thank you to everyone for a wonderful summer season!

Thanks to each of our guests to joined us this summer for a whitewater rafting adventure, a side-by-side ATV thrill ride, a memorable day of horseback riding, or some incredible fly fishing. We enjoyed meeting folks from all over the world and it’s truly our greatest pleasure to have the opportunity to share in your adventures. Thank you!

Summer Season Rafting

A big shout out also goes to our summer staff. Without these energetic and outgoing folks, your adventures wouldn’t be possible. We’re proud to have some of the best staff in the business here at Sage Outdoor Adventures. And we are thankful for their hard work this summer!

Our 2018 summer season was very memorable. We enjoyed great weather throughout the summer, perfect for enjoying the beautiful mountain scenery here in the Vail Valley and surrounding areas. These hot summer days were perfect for rafting trips down Gore Creek and the Eagle River, down to the Colorado River and even the Arkansas. All around, it was a fun rafting season.

Side-by-Side ATV Ride

Our horseback riders and side-by-side ATV riders had the opportunity to enjoy plenty of wildflowers and wildlife throughout the summer. There’s no bad time to explore the ranch on horseback or ATV. But when the weather cooperates, it’s very hard to beat.

With the summer season behind us, we can now look forward to snowmobiling and a fun season of winter activities! We plan to open our winter snowmobiling operation in time for Thanksgiving. If you are planning a vacation to Vail or Beaver Creek during the holidays, please give us a call.

These snowmobile rides are a blast. We can easily accommodate families and even large groups. We operate on a large, historic ranch that’s actually larger than Vail ski area! You’ll have this pristine landcape all to yourself, along with its incredible views. Get away from the hustle and bustle of the ski runs, and join us for a backcountry ride through this winter wonderland.

To learn more about our snowmobile trips, please check out our snowmobiling page. For specific availability or details, give us call at 970-476-3700 or send us a message.

See you when the snow falls!

New Guided Fly Fishing Expeditions on The Famed Piney River

Here at Sage Outdoor Adventures, we are extremely proud to announce that we now have access to the famed Piney River near Vail for guided fly fishing trips! 

Sage is opening up new private water for the first time ever. We are now the sole fly fishing outfitter on the Piney Valley Ranch. Sage Outdoor Adventures now leases the exclusive fishing rights to this pristine stretch of private water and will begin offering guided fishing trips this summer! 

The Piney River is a classic, Colorado backcountry gem. With its headwaters at Piney Lake at the foot of the rugged Gore Range, this freestone river tumbles through a roadless wilderness canyon for 25 miles until its confluence with the Colorado River. 

As the Piney River approaches its confluence with the Colorado, it flows right through the heart of Piney Valley Ranch, a sprawling, 30,000-acre mountain paradise. Our guests will have exclusive private access to a stretch of water has never been available to the public.

The team at Sage Outdoor Adventures was able to secure this premier fishing lease thanks to a longstanding relationship with the owners of Piney Valley Ranch, who previously owned Castle Peak Ranch. Castle Peak is where we offer ATV tours, snowmobiling, horseback riding and sporting clays. There were several reputable fly fishing businesses knocking on the door for the Piney River lease. But after seven years of working together at Castle Peak, and knowing first-hand the quality of Sage operations, the owners chose to sign with Sage.

Starting this summer, we will offer full-day trips to this remote, private stretch of the Piney River. Trips will include side-by-side ATVs to navigate the ranch, high-end fly fishing gear, and a gourmet lunch. Like all of our adventures, transportation to and from Vail and Beaver creek is also included. 

The ranch will be limited to very few fishing guests each day to maintain a high quality experience. As with everything we do, we place a high priority on the quality of the fishing, the undisturbed wilderness experience, and the quality of guest service. 

In addition to the incredible Piney River fishery, Sage guests will have access to two private lakes on the Piney Valley Ranch. These lakes offer the perfect location for a day of fishing, canoeing, hiking and experiencing the scenic Colorado backcountry with family or friends. Just minutes from the Vail Valley, these mountain lake getaways are also well suited to corporate events and other groups. 

The exclusive fishing lease on the Piney Valley Ranch also includes a premier section of private water on the Eagle River. This will allow us to offer premium half-day trips just a few minutes from Vail and Beaver Creek.

In addition to these new private waters, Sage Outdoor Adventures will continue to offer guided float trips on the Eagle and Colorado Rivers.

If you’d like to learn more, please visit our Fly Fishing Page. If you’d like to chat with us in more detail or check availability, you can call us at 970-476-3700 or contact us online.