Granite, Colorado: Timberline’s Arkansas River Rafting Hub

Granite, Colorado, is the Timberline Tours adventure hub for Vail rafting on the Arkansas River, or The Ark, which includes some of the most exciting sections of whitewater in the state—and beyond. Since Granite is located about an hour and a half away from Vail, visitors to the Timberline Tours Granite boathouse can expect an incredibly scenic drive over meandering mountain roads and through historic towns along the way.

Once you arrive in Granite to get outfitted for your rafting trip, you’ll immediately get the sense of this remote boathouse’s charm. During the Arkansas River rafting season, several Timberline Tours guides live in rooms connected to the boathouse, and a strong sense of camaraderie develops among this small crew of Granite-based guides. The Granite boathouse becomes like a river home for those who guide Timberline’s Arkansas River rafting trips. So you’ll no doubt feel the friendly vibe of these adventurous men and women who find joy in living the river lifestyle.

Timberline Tours Rafting History: Granite, Colorado

Granite is located between the historic mining town of Leadville, Colorado, and Buena Vista. During Colorado’s mining boom, Granite was a stop along the Leadville Stagecoach Road from around 1877. This road was frequently traveled as a supply and mail route from Canyon City to Denver, and even though it is no longer operational, the road is still visible from the Timberline Tours boathouse in Granite.

Vail Adventures Granite Colorado 1971

While many rafting outfitters currently have boathouses along the Arkansas River from Granite to Buena Vista, Timberline Tours was the original outfitter in the early 1990s to offer Vail guests guided rafting trips on the Pine Creek and The Numbers sections of the Arkansas River. In around 2000, Timberline Tours opened up its boathouse in Granite, with the put-in for the Pine Creek section of the Arkansas River just across the street. For many years after establishing its boathouse in Granite, Timberline Tours was the only outfitter in the area to offer commercially guided rafting trips on the Pine Creek and The Numbers sections of the Arkansas River.

Timberline Tours runs rafting trips on the Arkansas River each summer from mid- to late-June through mid-August, and river dynamics change throughout this seasonal window. Timberline Tours closes its Granite boathouse mid-August when the dam significantly reduces its flow. The Arkansas River shrinks to a near-trickle for the fall and winter season, but it stays beautiful all year long.

Arkansas River Rafting Trips from Granite, Colorado

Timberline Tours offers three different rafting trips on the Arkansas River from its Granite boathouse: Browns Canyon, The Numbers, and Pine Creek/The Numbers. These sections of river range from classic, family-friendly rafting to intense whitewater that athletic paddlers will love. But no matter which Arkansas River rafting trip you choose, Granite is the place where you’ll stop and pick up essential rafting gear, including personal floatation devices (PFDs), helmets, paddles, and more. Granite is also the place where guides go through an interactive rafting safety talk that covers rafting basics such as paddling tips, common rafting paddling commands, and how to help a swimmer back into the raft.

Once you’re outfitted and prepped for whitewater rafting, you’ll shuttle to the put-in location for your trip. Here’s what to expect next on the river:

Browns Canyon (Class III: intermediate, family-friendly):
This family-friendly rafting trip will take you through the heart of Browns Canyon National Monument, an area known for its incredible mountain scenery and wildlife. While you’ll get the experience of paddling through some big and splashy rapids, you’ll also have some time to relax and enjoy mountain views and a riverside lunch.

The Numbers (Class IV: advanced, high intensity):
The Numbers is one of Colorado’s most thrilling sections of whitewater, with rapids so continuous that they’ve been numbered instead of named. The Numbers is an exciting, action-packed and fast-moving rafting trip, making it a good choice for athletic paddlers who want to dig in and paddle hard.

Whitewater Rafting near Granite Colorado on the Arkansas River
The Numbers, photography by Doug Mayhew |


Pine Creek and The Numbers (Class IV and V-: advanced/expert, high intensity):
Athletic adventurers who like to paddle hard will enjoy the thrill of this trip that goes through two Class IV stretches of whitewater in addition to the Class IV+/V- (expert, high intensity) Pine Creek Rapid in the Pine Creek section. Following the Pine Creek section, a variety of Class III and Class IV rapids keep the activity level ranging from moderate to intense throughout The Numbers section of the Arkansas River. A deli-style lunch is served at Timberline’s boathouse in Granite following the trip.

Timberline Tours Whitewater Rafting Pine Creek & The Numbers on the Arkansas River near Vail Colorado - photography by Doug Mayhew |
Pine Creek and The Numbers, photography by Doug Mayhew |


For safety purposes, age and weight minimums apply for each of these trips, so be sure to check individual trip pages for details. Make sure that you understand river class ratings, and feel free to call our office for advice about what trip is likely to be the best fit for your group: (970) 476-1414.

See you on The Ark this summer!


Timberline Tours is Vail’s premier whitewater rafting and backcountry jeep tours outfitter. We offer rafting trips on Colorado’s Eagle, Colorado, and Arkansas Rivers, and we also guide duckie river trips. All of our guided trips are open to Vail visitors, locals, families, and corporate groups.

To book your Vail, Colorado, adventure, call Timberline Tours at (970) 476-1414, or email us at