What You Need to Know About Fly Fishing the Piney River

Piney River Fly Fishing

The state of Colorado is often known for its towering mountains and graded river canyons. But there are portions of Colorado that lend to its defining features far more than others. Sitting around 12,000 feet in elevation, the Gore Range is one of those places. One of the rivers born from this textbook Colorado landscape is the Piney River near Vail, Colorado.

Tumbling 28 miles from its headwaters, the Piney River is a long tributary of the Colorado River. The headwaters begin at Piney Lake before stretching through a rugged wilderness canyon until it ultimately feeds into the Colorado River.

Often overshadowed in name by nearby well-known rivers like the Eagle River and Colorado River, the Piney is an absolute gem. And not just for its majestic exposure to the Gore Range’s towering beauty. The Piney River offers some of the best freestone fly-fishing in the state of Colorado.

The Piney River near Vail, Colorado

Fishing the Piney Valley Ranch

Located just above its confluence with the Colorado River, the Piney River flows through the spectacular, Pine Valley Ranch. This stretch is the crème de la crème of the Piney River. And access to this private stretch of water is only available to guests of ​Sage Outdoor Adventures.

Sage is fortunate to have a long-standing relationship with the owners of Piney Valley Ranch and the exclusive lease to guide trips on these waters. When you book a fishing trip with Sage, you’ll have this historic ranch, this beautiful river canyon, and this world-class trout fishery all to yourself.

The Piney Valley Ranch encompasses seven river miles of private water. And the guide service at Sage Outdoor Adventures checks all of the boxes.

Piney River Guided Fly Fishing

Planning A Fishing Trip to the Piney River

Peak fishing conditions on the Piney River begin immediately after runoff subsides, usually in late June and will continue through the early fall. These summer and fall months bring consistent water levels and prolific hatches of mayflies and caddis. Mid-summer and early fall is also an excellent time to fish terrestrials like hoppers, beetles and ants. Whether you prefer to throw dry flies, nymphs, or swing streamers through the deeper runs, all of it is available here on the Piney.

Because these fish see very little pressure, they tend to be aggressive and not very selective. But the guides at Sage will help you pick the best patterns for the conditions and the time of year. While these trout can usually be fooled by a variety of fly patterns, the low, clear water conditions later in the summer often require a stealthy approach. Prepare to approach from downstream and make upstream casts to avoid being seen.

No matter the time of year you decide to take on the Piney, it’s important to keep in mind that the higher altitude provides less protection from the sun, so wear and reapply sunscreen throughout the day for the duration of your trip. Anglers will want to bring a hat, and long sleeves. And we’d recommend a buff to cover your neck. As far as the weather is concerned, there is a common saying in Colorado that, “if you don’t like the weather, just wait five minutes.” From cold temperatures in the morning, to intense midday sun, to afternoon thunderstorms, be prepared to experience it all. Dress in layers so that you can quickly adjust to the changing conditions.

Guided Fly Fishing in Colorado

Piney River: A Gore Range Freestone Tributary

It would be difficult to overstate the quality of the fishing on the Piney River as it runs through Piney Valley Ranch, or the beauty of this canyon and the surrounding scenery. The only way to truly understand it is to come experience it for yourself.

To learn more about guided fly fishing trips with Sage Outdoor Adventures and to reserve dates for your adventure, please click here. Or, give the folks at Sage a call at 970-476-3700. Come experience the Piney River this summer with Sage!

Piney River Fly Fishing

Written by the Staff at Riversmith

Colorado Fly Fishing Trips Are Now Underway

Colorado Fly Fishing

The spring season has officially begun here in the Vail Valley! We are now running guided fly fishing trips on the Eagle river and Colorado River. Spring conditions are fantastic and it has been an awesome start to the season in Colorado!

Colorado Fly Fishing

We have openings through this month on the Eagle and Colorado rivers. Reservations are now open for the rest of the summer on these waters, as well as the Piney River – an epic stretch of private water along one of Colorado’s most spectacular wilderness river canyons. Guides are limited, so please give us a call now to reserve your spot this season – 970-476-3700. Or check out our fishing page to learn more.

Early season fishing on the Colorado River and Eagle River brings excellent water conditions and some memorable dry fly hatches – most notably, blue winged olives. As we get later in the spring, we will begin to see caddis hatches along both rivers. With runoff in late May and June, we will see higher water flows, as well as hatches of big salmonflies. When runoff subsides, dry fly fishing remains consistent through the warmer months – including hopper fishing. Nymphing and streamer tactics are also effective throughout the season.

Fly Fishing Trips Near Vail and Beaver Creek

If you’re in the Vail or Beaver Creek area this summer, consider joining us on a fishing trip to the Piney River. It’s an experience you’ll never forget! We have exclusive access to 7 miles of this incredible freestone river. The Piney River tumbles out of the rugged Gore Range and into a jaw-dropping wilderness canyon. As it flows through the 30,000-acre Piney Valley Ranch, Sage guests have the exclusive access to this wild and scenic river, loaded with trout. It’s truly an angler’s paradise.

To learn more and to reserve your spot, please give us a call at 970-476-3700 or visit the fishing page.

Fly Fishing on the Eagle River

Vail Colorado: A Summer Playground

Summer Rafting near Vail, Colorado

Feeling a tinge of cabin fever? We’ve got you covered. This summer, we will be back to enjoying our favorite summer activities here in Vail, Colorado. Just minutes from both Vail and Beaver Creek, we’re ready for whitewater rafting, fly fishing on the Piney River, side-by-side ATV rides, horseback rides and sporting clays. Make plans to get busy this summer on your Colorado summer playground!

Rafting Trips

We have 40 years of experience here in the Vail Valley and we operate from three great locations for each river destination. Our guests enjoy brand new equipment and outstanding river guides that will make your trip both safe and a ton of fun.

Learn more about our rafting trips here.

Whitewater Rafting Trip

Side-by-Side ATV Trips

Come drive your own ATV as we explore a 6,000-acre private mountain with an adjoining 14,000 acres of public land near the Castle Peak Wilderness Study Area. We’re talking about an expansive chunk of wild country where you can feel the wind in your hair.

Learn more about the ATV trips here.

Side-by-Side ATV Trips near Vail

Guided Fly Fishing Trips

When you fish with us, you get exclusive access to some of the best water in Colorado. The Piney River begins high in the Rugged Gore range and flows through a wilderness canyon to the Piney Valley Ranch. Here’s we have private access to seven miles of incredible trout water. Sage Fly Fishing guests are the only anglers on this sprawling 30,000-acre ranch. The experience here is simply unbeatable.

Learn more about our fly fishing trips here.

Fly Fishing on the Piney River near Vail

Horseback Riding

Here at Sage, we rarely stick to trails and we avoid riding nose-to-tail. Come explore this 6,000-acre private mountain with breathtaking views of Castle Peak and the Vail Valley.  Ride through fragrant Sage meadows, towering aspen groves and dense pine forests. This is like no other horseback ride you’ve ever experienced!

Learn more about our horseback rides.

The Snowcats of Sage Part 1: How to Maintain a Mountain

Snowmobile Trail Grooming Equipment

Here at Sage, we’re extremely proud of our fleet of professional snow grooming equipment. Not only do we offer an incredible variety of snowmobile trails across a 6,000-acre private mountain. But we also take great care in our trail design and grooming operations. Come ride with us on this mountain and we guarantee to put a big grin on your face.

While most snowmobile guide services rely on shared Forest Service trails with very little control over the conditions, we’re fortunate to operate on a private mountain larger than Vail ski area. Here, guests of Sage Outdoor Adventures have the whole place to themselves.

Grooming Snowmobile Trails

Operating on a private mountain means we’re able to custom-design our trail systems. And as soon as the snow starts flying, our snowcats keep those trails in excellent riding condition. But grooming trails and operating a snowcat it’s not as easy as turning a key and hitting a throttle. It takes practice and some serious snow-know-how.

We recently caught up with Sage Owner and Director of Operations, Cole Bangert, to talk about snowcats and grooming…and why it’s harder than it looks!

“This snowcat (pictured below) is a smallish sized cat to fit our unique trails,” Cole began. “The size of this cat allows us to groom trails through aspen groves and in some unique places. We do have a bigger snow cat as well, like the size you would see up on the ski hill. We use that larger cat for our play meadows and some of the bigger trails with deep snow drifts and more powder.”

Snowmobile Trail Grooming Equipment

The snowcat pictured here is a Prinoth Husky. Sage purchased it brand new for $215,000.

“But getting the equipment is only the first step,” Cole told us. “Having someone capable of driving it is a whole other thing. These things have 12-way blades, plus the tiller operation. Once you master those, there’s the trick of actually driving it without hitting trees. Grooming trails in a snowcat takes multi-tasking to a new level.”

It certainly isn’t easy or cheap to operate a fleet of snowcats. But it’s a necessary investment to keep these snowmobile trails in prime condition.

“When grooming, the driver is always making assessments based on a variety of factors,” Cole explained. “You have to consider snow deposition, density and wind direction. A good cat driver must also consider ‘snow farming’ or where we increase snow depth for future use. Whenever we’re pushing drifts around, we’re planning ahead for the springtime so that we can maximize trail depth as the days get longer and temperatures get warmer.”

Grooming Snowmobile Trails

These practices make for great snowmobile experiences throughout the winter, and they help extend our snowmobile season into the beautiful spring months here in the Colorado high country.

There’s no doubt that driving a snowcat and grooming trails takes practice and skill. A great driver takes all these factors into account, all without running into trees along the way!

But according to Cole, the real secret and all you need to be the world’s best cat operator is right here:

What it takes to be a snowcat operator.

If you’d like to learn more about our guided snowmobile trips, please take a few minutes to explore our snowmobiling information. We’d love to help you plan a memorable backcountry snowmobile adventure here in Colorado!

The Best Snowmobile Experience in the Vail Valley

It’s a bold statement. But we will gladly make it. We truly believe that we offer the very best snowmobile experience in the Vail Valley, period.

Make no bones about it; this high country snowmobile tour is not like any other.  What’s the difference maker? It’s that we operate on a beautiful and historic private mountain, an area larger than Vail Ski area.

Family Snowmobile Tour

But boasting about ‘a private mountain’ may not mean anything at first glance. So what does that mean in reality? First, most snowmobile operations are based on Forest Service land, where they aren’t permitted to build permanent structures. That means you’ve got a port-o-potty on the side of a logging road.

Here at Sage, we are blessed with a comfortable base of operations. Our guests arrive to a cozy lodge and our base of operations. You’ll be able to prepare for your snowmobile adventure in comfort. And yes, we have real restrooms!

But the benefits of a private mountain experience don’t end there. We’ve got a lineup of serious grooming equipment and more than 100 miles of professionally groomed trails! Operations on Forest Service land are forced into existing designated trails and don’t have the ability to customize rides for snowmobile tours.

Our many varied trails were designed and are maintained for snowmobiling. They aren’t just old logging roads. You’ll experience open sage flats, giant stands of aspen, winding turns through spruce forests, and jaw-dropping views from the edge of the Eagle River canyon, tumbling more than 2,400 feet below you.

We also groom and maintain 10 sprawling meadows, specifically for playing on snowmobiles! With 6,000 acres to explore and backcountry views of six different mountain ranges, it doesn’t take long to realize why this really is the very best snowmobile experience in the Vail valley.

For options and pricing, please check out our Snowmobiling Page. You can also call us at 970-476-3700 or contact us online.