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 rivers, go back and check out our profile on the Shoshone rapids through Glenwood canyon. Also check out the upper Eagle River and Gore Creek, which offer some of Colorado’s best early season 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.

5 Tips For Fly Fishing Colorado’s Wilderness Rivers

Fly Fishing in Colorado

Fishing conditions on our private stretch of the Piney River are at their best. River flows have come down to the perfect level. And summer dry fly fishing continues to be outstanding. When it comes to fly fishing Colorado’s remote and scenic rivers, it doesn’t get any better than this!

To learn more about these guided trips and this epic stretch of private water, see our recent blog post about the Piney River. In the meantime, here are five tips to remember when fly fishing any of Colorado’s small wilderness rivers:

Fly Fishing in Colorado

Fly fishing on small wilderness rivers, like the Piney River, comes with its own set of challenges and opportunities. Even our guests who are experienced anglers might learn a few new tricks if they are used to fishing on bigger waters.

  1. 1. Pay Attention to Your Profile

The water here can be crystal clear. It’s beautiful, and it’s fun being able to spot the fish. But it’s important to remember that the fish can also see you.

Colorado Fly Fishing Trip

On a guided trip, pay attention to how our guides approach the river. When fishing small wilderness rivers, it’s important to be aware of your profile. If you walk right up to the edge of a cut bank and see the shadows of trout skittering across the river, you’ve gone too far.

Instead, you may need to approach the river cautiously. Don’t let your profile loom over the places where fish are most likely to be holding.

  1. 2. Make Upstream Casts

In many other situations, anglers are used to making quartering-upstream casts, allowing the fly to drift downstream, past the angler’s position.

Here on the Piney River, take note of where your guide positions you for the cast. When fishing these high alpine streams, it’s more common to make upstream casts, and allow the fly to drift back down toward the angler.

Fly Fishing in Colorado

Trout tend to face upstream in the current, opportunistically feeding on insects that come drifting down to them. By making an upstream cast, you’re approaching the trout from behind, where they are less likely to see you.

  1. 3. Start at the Bottom of a Run

When you approach a new run or riffle, it’s often beneficial to begin at the downstream or tailing end, and work your way up. This allows you to target the downstream fish first, without spooking the fish at the head of the run.

Vail, Colorado Fly Fishing

This technique isn’t unique to wilderness fishing. The same principle applies to larger rivers. However, it’s especially important on these small alpine waters. In such clear water, it’s easy to spook fish if you’re not careful. When you target fish at the bottom first, and then work your way upstream, you’ll maximize your opportunities.

  1. 4. Don’t Ignore the Little Pockets

Most anglers have a tendency to fish the biggest, most promising-looking runs and riffles on the river. But when you’re fishing on wilderness creeks, don’t skip over the small pockets. You might be shocked at where you’ll find big trout holding. This is true here on the Piney River and most other high country creeks.

Don’t be surprised when your guide asks you to make a cast into a surprisingly small and innocuous-looking piece of pocket water. These little holes can be full of surprises. You might only get a two-second drift through one of these little pockets. But sometimes, that’s all you need for a fish to attack your fly.

5. Stop and Look Up

When you’re fishing these mountain rivers, the fast-action fishing is exciting. On each cast, you’ll be expecting the water to blow up beneath your dry fly. It’s addicting. And while it’s tempting to keep your head down and tell yourself, “Just one more cast!” don’t forget to lift your eyes and look around you.

The scenery here on the Piney River Ranch is nothing short of stunning. Every once in a while, take a break from casting and enjoy what’s around you. Enjoying the mountain scenery here in Colorado is an important part of the experience.

Colorado Mountain Scenery

Join Us on the Piney River

Our private stretch of the Piney River near Vail is exclusively available to Sage guests, and receives no public fishing pressure. Additionally, our knowledgeable guides help maximize our guests’ experience. Whether you’re a beginner angler, or a crusty old veteran, we work hard to make the most out of your time on the water.

We offer half-day and full-day guided trips on the Piney. To learn more, please explore our Fishing Page. If you have questions about availability or other details, please contact us. We look forward to helping you plan a memorable fly fishing adventure!

Guided Fly Fishing Expeditions on The Piney River

Piney River Guided Fishing Trip

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

Sage is the sole fly fishing outfitter on the Piney Valley Ranch, and it’s only available to our guests. We offer fully guided adventures to this pristine alpine stream, tucked away in the spectacular Colorado backcountry.

The Piney River is a classic, Colorado wilderness 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. 

Fishing the Piney River in Colorado

As the Piney River approaches its confluence with the Colorado, it flows right through the Piney Valley Ranch, a sprawling, 30,000-acre mountain paradise. Guests of Sage Outdoor Adventures have exclusive 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.

Piney River Fly Fishing Trips

We offer half-day and full-day trips to this remote, private stretch of the Piney River. Trips will include side-by-side ATVs to navigate the ranch and high-end fly fishing gear. Full day trips also include a streamside lunch.

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.

Guided Fly Fishing Trips

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. 

Guided Fly Fishing on the Piney River

 

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

A Look at Our Early Season Favorite, Gore Creek

Rafting Gore Creek in Vail

As we look forward to summer rafting, we’d like to introduce you to 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!

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.

Gore Creek is fed only on snowmelt. The season gets underway 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 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 .

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