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 an underrated one when it comes to guided fishing trips in Colorado. 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.

hiker near river and mountains with trees

Fly 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

Tips for Fly Fishing 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 the 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.

Never fly fished before? No worries. We offer an experience conducive to those looking for fly fishing trips for beginners in Colorado.

green area with trees and mountains

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.

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

trees and river

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 for guided fishing trips in Colorado!

man holds up fish

Reserve Your Guided Fishing Spot

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.

Never fly fished before? This is a perfect opportunity to get your feet wet with fly fishing trips for beginners in Colorado.

What to Expect During Early Season Fishing

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.

woman in hat holds up fish and net

Fly Fishing with Sage

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 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.

hand holding a fish partially in water

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 Colorado snowmobile trails across a 6,000-acre private mountain. But we also take great care in our trail design and grooming operations – it’s that backcountry, snowmobiling-in-Colorado experience you’ve been seeking, but even better. 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 Mountain Snowmobile Trails

How to Maintain Groomed Mountain 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!

Sage’s Mountain Grooming Equipment

“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 snowcat 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 snowdrifts and more powder.”

Mountain Grooming Equipment

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

Operating a Snowcat: Trees, Trails, and lots of Snow

“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 Colorado 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: a donut and coffee

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

snow covered 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. Vail snowmobiling simply does not get better than with us here at Sage.

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

Why is Snowmobiling on a Private Mountain in Vail Special?

But boasting about ‘a private mountain’ may not mean anything at first glance. So what does that mean in reality for the Vail, Colorado snowmobiling experience we offer?

Permanent and Comfortable Structures

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. 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!

Customized Snowmobiling Trails

But the benefits of a private mountain experience for Colorado snowmobile tours 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.

group of snowmobiles together

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.

Snowmobiling in Vail Colorado

Kick Your Holiday Plans Up a Notch with A Snowmobile Adventure

Enjoy the snow with a snowmobile tour

This winter, there may be no better way to celebrate the holidays than with a mountain snowmobile tour in Vail, Colorado! Avoid crowded ski areas and long lift lines and come enjoy the wide-open Colorado mountains on a backcountry snowmobile ride. This is the perfect year to elevate your holiday plans, and join us for your own little slice of heaven out here on the snow!

The Best Vail, Colorado Snowmobiling on Private Trails

Our private mountain is larger than Vail ski area and home to more than 100 miles of trails. With a professional fleet of Snowcats at our disposal, we’re able to build out custom trails specifically designed to optimize your snowmobiling tour. We’ll take you on a tour through an everchanging landscape full of twists and turns, giving you a full view of the stunning scenery in addition to adrenaline-pumping speed. Whether you’re an experienced snowmobiler or are hitting the trails for the first time, our guides will be able to customize the experience to your needs.

From our private mountain, 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 family-friendly guided tours with multiple start times each day. Looking for fun things to do in Avon, Colorado over the holidays? We offer transportation to and from hotels in not only Avon, but Beaver Creek and Vail as well. This added help with logistics leaves more time for your other holiday plans. It makes a perfect family event! Our outstanding guides will make sure that beginners and advanced riders alike will have a great time.

Not sure what to bring? Check out our recent blog post to learn more about what you’ll need to bring and how COVID protocols are affecting our gear rentals.

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!

person snowmobiling