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, and horseback rides. Make plans to get busy this summer on your Colorado summer playground!

Summer 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.

Summer 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

Colorado 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.

Colorado Snow Update & White Water Rafting Forecast

Summer Season Rafting

Well, it has been an awesome winter season here in the Vail Valley and it seems nothing can stop all these smiles! Sage owner Darryl Bangert said it best, “Through our second year amid the pandemic, we’ve witnessed a big demand to get outside and reconnect with nature,” he said. “Seeing our guests come alive during these trips is very rewarding for our staff.”

An outdoor snowmobile adventure is the ultimate socially distanced activity and we have continued to keep excellent safety protocols in place. Snowmobiling throughout this season has been a ton of fun. Recent storms have led to great snow conditions. And now, we’re excited that spring is around the corner. Before we know it, we will be making the transition from snowmobiling to rafting season!

Snowmobile Tour in Vail, Colorado

Colorado’s White Water Rafting Season

As we look forward to spring and the summer rafting season, we can’t help but get excited. This winter was unique, as every year is. Winter seemed to arrive late, with a relatively dry start to the winter sports season. But as is so often the case, when the snow did arrive, it came with a vengeance. Since the holidays, snowpack across the state has hovered at or above median levels for much of the winter. Lots of snow on the mountains means great rafting conditions ahead!

Gore Creek and Eagle River Rafting Conditions

Right here in the Colorado River basin, the current snowpack sits at about 95% of average levels with more spring storms in the forecast. With a high snowpack in the high country, we can expect good early season rafting on Gore Creek and the Eagle River, which are some of Colorado’s best early summer trips.

In fact, when the Eagle River is at its peak, it’s some of the best whitewater in the country. But what makes the Eagle River is unique, is the steady downward gradient. The upper section from Minturn to Avon features a consistent elevation drop, essentially creating a 10-mile long wave train.

If you’ve never experienced Gore Creek or the Eagle River, don’t wait – come experience it this year!

Colorado White Water Rafting Trip in March

Arkansas River Rafting Conditions

Meanwhile, over in the Arkansas River basin, we have a solid snowpack, which currently sits at about 94% of median. This is the most famous stretch of whitewater in Colorado for good reason. Once the spring thaw begins, we’re in for a memorable summer of whitewater rafting on the Ark.

The world-famous Pine Creek and Numbers sections of the Arkansas River boast some of the best class IV and V whitewater rafting in the country. Further downstream, Browns Canyon National Monument offers a trip through an incredibly scenic gorge with 10 miles of class III rapids. Add to this a backdrop of 14,000-foot peaks and rocky desert landscapes, and it’s easy to see why the Ark is a popular rafting destination.

The 2020 rafting season in Colorado is shaping up to be a great one. If you’re planning a trip to Colorado this year, be sure and reserve dates early for your whitewater adventure.

To learn more, visit our Rafting Page. If you have questions or to book a trip, please call us at 970-476-3700 or contact us online.

Featured River: The Arkansas River

Rafting on the Arkansas River in Colorado

Whitewater rafting has always 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.

Arkansas River: Colorado’s Ultimate Rafting River

This time, let’s talk about the Arkansas River. The ‘Ark’ is well-known in Colorado for its 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 snowmelt periods, like you see on the Eagle River or Clear Creek.”

Colorado's Arkansas River is perfect for rafting

Enjoy Stunning Views while Rafting

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. Raft the Arkansas River as a group!Brave Arkansas River's whitewater rapids

Tackle Arkansas River’s Powerful Rapids

“The upper stretches of the Arkansas River 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.

Float through a National Monument

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.

Rafting Glenwood Canyon’s Shoshone Rapids

Glenwood Canyon Rafting

Every year, we look forward to rafting the Colorado River through Glenwood Canyon. Known as the Shoshone Rapids or simply Shoshone, this stretch of river provides a double punch with outstanding whitewater and a jaw-dropping setting.

Where is Glenwood Canyon located?

Shoshone is an easy, 45-minute drive from the Vail and Beaver Creek area. And it’s right next door to our Colorado River Outpost at Dotsero.

The Shoshone stretch of the Colorado River flows through Glenwood Canyon. The towering red rock cliffs are studded with pine trees, soaring up to 2,000 vertical feet above the river. What’s better, the rapids or the scenery? We’ll leave that up to you.

What Shoshone rafting trips are offered?

We offer both a morning and an afternoon option and this is a great trip for families. The minimum age on this trip is 7 years old, depending on the water levels. However, we can easily accommodate families with kids under 7. We will provide a shuttle for those kids ages 5 and 6 around the first set of rapids. From there, they can join the group for the rest of the adventure.

Rafting here begins as early as May, but most of our trips down the Shoshone Rapids take place from July all the way through September. If you have questions about specifics or our upcoming availability, please feel free to contact us. You can also visit our rafting page to learn more.

Rafting Shoshone Rapids

Glenwood Canyon Rafting

Rafting the Shoshone Section of the Colorado River

Update From Our 2021 White Water Raft Guide Training

Raft Guide Training

We’ve had a blast at our annual Raft Guide Training Program and we’re excited to have a new class rookie river guides this spring. With rain and even some late-season snow, it has been an eventful start to the rafting season here in Colorado!

Our River Guide Training is a premier program that prepares our trainees with the skills they’ll need to guide commercial whitewater and fishing trips. Plus, it’s just a ton of fun!

White Water Rafting Guide Training Requirements

As a part of our raft guide training, rookies must complete a minimum of 50 hours of training. This 10-day program will focus on rescue techniques, rowing, paddle guiding, river features, hydrology, boat terminology, rigging, customer service and more. Prospective guides must also receive training in leave no trace ethics.

Colorado River Guide ClassThese state requirements are mandatory for all river guides in Colorado. We not only adhere to the mandated state requirements for river guide training, we surpass them in most areas. We begin by approaching all training exercises with a deep respect for the river. All our guides are trained specifically for the demands of commercial rafting.

During this exciting training program, our rookies will be challenged daily, having the opportunity to swim through intense whitewater, practice rescue situations, and maneuver boats with and without a paddle crew…and have a blast while doing it all.

What Makes our Training Different

What makes our program truly special is the group of instructors that are some of the friendliest and most knowledgeable river experts in the business. Instructors must have 1,500 miles of commercial and private experience. This year, we have eight instructors teaching our spring classes.

Colorado Rafting Guide Class

Our raft guide training is always exciting because these classes coincide with the start of spring runoff and high water conditions. Every day is a new day for our rookie guides. Every day come new skills, as the water levels get progressively higher.

Our crew here at Sage works tirelessly to make these adventures possible, and that’s exactly what sets us apart. We love the mountains and these rivers, and we are passionate about sharing that with our guests. We are proud to maintain a drug and alcohol-free workplace. And with this team, you won’t find a more fun, genuine, professional, and skilled group of guides anywhere else.

If you’d like to learn more about our annual River Guide Training Program or other career opportunities at Sage Outdoor Adventures, please check out our Careers Page.

To learn more about rafting with us, take a look at our Rafting Page. We’d love to see you on the river with us in Colorado this summer!