This photo needs editing.
Difficulty III-IV+ at this flow (IV-V normally)
Length 6 Miles
Flow Range 200 - 5000 CFS
Flow Rate as of: 33 minutes ago 146 [CFS] 👍 ℹ️ ⚠️
Reach Info Last Updated 03/15/2019 2:01 am

River Description

Pine Creek through the numbers is a classic Colorado run. As the steepest section of the Arkansas River, this stretch is not to be taken lightly but is still fun at every level.
The typical middle range of flows (1200cfs-2000cfs) is the most challenging. The run gets very defined with the crux s-bend move becoming tight. At these levels, the s-bend hole is sticky and will punish you. Since the advent of playboats, however, it seems less severe than when it used to eat Freefalls and other big bouncy boats. 
Pine Creek rapid proper is generally broken down into three sections: Entrance, S-Bend, and Triple Drop.
1. The entrance: The top of the rapid is fast and pushy but not super demanding. 
2. The S-Bend: This move is difficult; you need to make a move to the left or right to avoid a big hole. The water is moving fast, and many people don't know what's coming by the time they are on top of the hole. Swims here can be rough so if you don't like the looks of it put in below the hole in the first decent eddy. The classic move is to the left, but it has been said the right run is a safer bet. 
3. Triple Drop: Below the S-Bend, there is a short lull, roughly 100ft., and then you are into the triple drop. This section is super fun and fast. Run the triple drop up the middle and hang on!
Below the Triple Drop the river goes into fun class IV rapids. There is excellent play, as catch on the fly surfing Class IV goes.
Below Pine Creek section there is a huge granite boulder in the middle of the river that pinches the main flow between a smaller rock on the left, this makes an excellent cartwheel spot at flows between 800cfs and about 1500cfs.
This run may not be considered as super hard by new school standards. This run does and has had severe consequences for many boaters.
Be vigilant at the S-Turn Rapid. Any swims on this section are survival mode claw-your-way-to-shore swimming. Ditch the boat, save the life. 
Powerful forces are underway, choose life.  Pine Creek Rapid is cold, and the rapid is continuous. The run out is not forgiving. Take this run seriously.
To Get There: Highway 24 parallels the run on river right although you can only see the river in a couple of places. Put in at the small town of Granite at Hwy 24 mile 193.8 where County Road 397 crosses the river to an access point on river left. There is an alternate access a couple of miles downstream below the broken up dam that is used as a put-in mainly when flows are low. This access is reached from Hwy 24 mile 195.7 where you turn onto the dirt road headed upstream to an access site below the dam that still puts you upstream of Pine Creek rapid. If you're doing a short run, you can take-out at the Numbers access. At Hwy 24 mile 199.9 head down towards the river and before crossing Scott's Bridge turn left headed upstream. It's a mile up this dirt road to the Numbers access site. Alternatively, most folks continue downstream and run the Numbers and take-out after #5 or at the Railroad Bridge access.

See Colorado Rivers and Creeks II, by Banks and Eckardt (The Bible), for info on this and most of the other kewl runs of Colorado.

Lat/longitude coords are approximate, from TopoZone.

See also Pinecreek (Class IV/V),
The Numbers (Class IV),
Fractions/ Frogrock/ Milkrun (Class III),
Buena Vista (Class III),
Browns Canyon (Class III),
Salida (Class III),
Rincon (Class III),
Pinnacle Rock (Class III),
Royal Gorge (Class III/IV).

Rapid Descriptions


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Dan Dyer
9 years ago

This description of the Granite run only mentions Pine Creek Rapid...any chance of getting a description of the Granite run?

Gage Descriptions

Low: 200 - 900 cfs
Med: 900 - 1,500 cfs
High: 1,500 cfs and up

Pine Creek goes at very low flows, about as low as the Ark ever gets. At most flows below about 1200cfs the run is class IV without any severe consequneces for missing a move. From about 1200cfs through about 2000cfs the s-bend hole aka the moon pie gets sticky. Above 2000cfs the hole starts to wash and the run is a straight shot but the consequences for swiming are severe! The run is very continuous and cold.

Directions Description

We have no additional detail on this route. Use the map below to calculate how to arrive to the main town from your zipcode.

Date Flow Result Factor  
2018-06-04 Medium Fatality One Boat Trip Read More
2014-07-24 Low Fatality High Water Read More
2010-06-12 High Fatality One Boat Trip Read More
2009-07-07 High Fatality High Water Read More
2000-07-15 Low Fatality Other Read More
1997-05-13 Medium Fatality Other Read More
1996-06-02 Medium Fatality Other Read More
1983-06-11 n/a Fatality Cold Water Read More



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Colorado Parks & Wildlife to Require Hunting or Fishing License at River Access

Kestrel Kunz

In an unexpected and strategic move by Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW), a Colorado hunting or fishing license will now be required to access State Wildlife Areas and CPW-leased State Trust Lands (effective July 1, 2020). Many of these affected areas have historically been used for paddling, hiking, rock climbing, mountain biking, camping, and other non-consumptive recreation uses. CPW's press release stated that "This rule is aimed at curtailing non-wildlife-related use of these properties", and while we understand the need to increase revenue to support management of these areas, we have a few concerns with this strategy. On July 1, American Whitewater, Colorado Mountain Club, and multiple other organizations submitted a joint letter to CPW Commissioners requesting that they reconsider the new Rule and find a more practicable and sustainable method for collecting fees for these areas.

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Opportunity to Participate in Upper Gunnison Watershed Management Plan (CO)

Kestrel Kunz

The Upper Gunnison Water Conservancy District in Gunnison, Colorado is coordinating a Watershed Management Planning effort "to help protect existing water uses and watershed health in the Upper Gunnison Basin in the face of pressure from increased water demands and permanent reductions in water supply." The current phase is focusing on Tomichi, Cochetopa, Cebolla, Taylor, and the Gunnison River above Blue Mesa. With local stewardship staff in Crested Butte, American Whitewater has joined the Watershed Management Planning Team to help represent recreational river users and quantify flow preferences and recreational opportunities on the Taylor and Gunnison Rivers. American Whitewater is very excited to be involved in this stakeholder driven process and we are asking paddlers to share their input on management priorities for the Upper Gunnison Basin. If you have experience paddling Cebolla, Taylor, or the Upper Gunnison Rivers, please fill out this quick survey! 

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AW releases Saint Vrain and Lefthand Creek Recreational Flow Study - CO

Nathan Fey

Longmont, Colorado - As part of a comprehensive Stream Management Plan for the St Vrain Creek Watershed, American Whitewater is collecting and compiling data on recreational uses, and identifying projects and strategies to improve stream health, recreation, and environmental conditions in the region. You can help with this extensive effort. Please participate in the Recreational Flow survey.


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Support Colorado River Access on Colorado Gives Day!

Kestrel Kunz

Colorado Gives Day is on December 4 this year and is fast approaching! Go here to schedule your online donation to support American Whitewater's Colorado River Access Program. All donations made to American Whitewater on Colorado Gives Day (December 4) will be put towards our River Access Program in Colorado. American Whitewater works to improve river access and public safety throughout the state by working with landowners and managers, paddlers, law enforcement, and lawmakers to understand Colorado's river access laws and the ongoing threats to public safety. Thank you for your support!

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Voluntary River Closure Proposed On the Slate River (CO)

Kestrel Kunz

Crested Butte CO - Alleged disruption to a Heron Rookery and concerned private landowners have led to a "Voluntary Closure" of the Slate River from the Gunsight Bridge to the Town of Crested Butte between March 15 and June 21 for the 2019 season. The Slate River between Oh Be Joyful Campground and Skyland Bridge, a 10.5 mile stretch, provides an incredibly scenic and unique flatwater paddling experience in the Gunnison Valley. The Voluntary clsoure is a product of the Slate River Floating Management Plan, created by a Working Group convened by the Town of Crested Butte and the Crested Butte Land Trust. The Working Group was created in direct response to pressure from the local community including conservationists and private landowners adjacent to the river, who are concerned that a recent increase in boating activity is disturbing a Heron Rookery that straddles the Slate River. 

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AW Comments on Colorado Nat'l Forest Wilderness Process

Kestrel Kunz

Today, September 5, marked the close of the public review process for the DRAFT Wilderness Evaluation Report. The Evaluation Phase is the second step of 4 different steps required in the assessment of lands that may be suitable for inclusion in the National Wilderness Preservation System (NWPS). American Whitewater thoroughly reviewed the DRAFT Wilderness Evaluation Report and submitted our comments to the Forest Service on September 4, 2018. Overall, we found that key paddling reaches throughout the GMUG area were greatly under-represented in the Polygon narratives and thus weren't acknowledged as contributing factors to the Polygon's respective Wilderness Ratings. We let the Forest Service know this, highlighting specific paddling reaches that should be added to each Polygon and which Polygons we believe should have a higher Wilderness Rating based on the high-quality recreation opportunities that each area has to offer. 

Please stay tuned as we continue to report on the GMUG Land Management Revision Process and in the meantime you can learn more about the GMUG here. (Photo of Josh King by Nick Spitzer)

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TAKE ACTION: Comment on the Arkansas Headwaters Recreation Area Management Plan

Kestrel Kunz

ARKANSAS RIVER, Colo. - The Arkansas Headwaters Recreation Area (AHRA) is revising their Management Plan for the first time since 2001. The new Draft Plan was made publicly available in October and the AHRA is accepting public comments through November 10, 2017 (next week!). In order to design effective and productive comments, American Whitewater has thoroughly reviewed the Draft Plan, discussed the Plan with our local Affiliate Clubs, attended AHRA Public Open Houses, and reached out to key members of the local paddling community. To make it easy for you to SUBMIT YOUR COMMENTS, American Whitewater staff have compiled our key concerns and comments for your review. 

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Colorado Honors the legacy of Matt Brown

Nathan Fey

Gunnison, Colorado - Last Wednesday, Matt Brown - longtime river guide, adventurer, and pillar of the Gunnison Valley community- passed away tragically after an accident in Moab. Matt was so much to so many.  At the request of his family and friends, contributions in Matt's memory can be made to American Whitewater’s River Access work in Colorado.  Matt was a strong ally and advisor in our work to protect the public’s rights to float and fish in the State.  We miss him immensely.

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Comments needed on Upper Colorado River Recreation Area Management Plan

Nathan Fey

Kremmling, Colorado - The Bureau of Land Management has released for public review and comment a set of preliminary alternatives for managing about 40 miles of the Upper Colorado River between Parshall and State Bridge - including Gore Canyon and Pumphouse. This is your chance to weigh in on whether there should be a day-use permit;  a camping permit with designated campsites in the popular stretch between Pumphouse and State Bridge; and expanding the developed Pumphouse Campground.

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Gore Fest 2017 is a few weeks away!

Nathan Fey

Bond, Colorado - American Whitewater is presenting Gore Canyon Festival - August 25-27th 2017Online registration is open and there are events for everyone, so sign up today! 

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A Successful River Cleanup on the St. Vrain (Lyons, CO)

Kestrel Kunz

On Sunday, nearly 50 people gathered on the banks of the St. Vrain River to pick up trash from the water and the shoreline. We started the day off with Hotbox Roasters coffee and donuts, and a few words about River Stewardship – the common cause that brought us all together. We found bedframes, rusty nails, lawn chairs, car doors, plastic water bottles, candy wrappers, fast food containers, and it doesn’t stop there. Our findings are likely a combination of leftover debris from the floods, illegal waste dumping along the river, and built up trash from years of careless passers-by. Thank you to all those that came out for the river cleanup! American Whitewater depends on our affiliate clubs, members, and dedicated volunteers in order to tackle our many River Stewardship projects.  

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Releases to Lower Dolores River certain in 2017.

Nathan Fey

Cortez, Colorado - Last week, American Whitewater met with local water managers, fisheries biologists, an other interests in Dolores River water, to start negotiating releases from McPhee Dam - like we do every spring.  This year, things are looking very good for the Dolores...

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Upper Colorado River Access funded by Land & Water Conservation Fund - CO

Nathan Fey

Dotsero, Colorado - A key river access point on the Upper Colorado river, once threatened with closure, has now been permanently protected through a partnership between BLM and Eagle County. 

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One more day to submit input on Colorado's Brown Canyon National Monument!

Kestrel Kunz

There is only one more day left to share what you value most in the Browns Canyon National Monument planning area! The Bureau of Land Management, U.S Forest Service, and Colorado Parks and Wildlife are working together to develop a Coordinated Management Plan for Browns Canyon National Monument. In order to design a plan that most benefits citizens and visitors of Colorado, the agencies designed an Online Survey and Mapping Tool to understand how the public interacts with the Browns Canyon planning area and what aspects of the area are most important to the public.


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New Report on Impact to San Miguel River From Proposed Reservoirs

Evan Stafford

Colorado - American Whitewater has released a new study on whitewater recreation in the San Miguel River Basin. The Colorado Water Conservation Board (CWCB) requested that Montrose County consult with American Whitewater on recreational needs and future impacts for the San Miguel River. Montrose County acquired conditional water rights to the San Miguel River in hopes of building multiple new reservoirs on BLM land. American Whitewater worked with Montrose County’s agents to assess the impact its conditional storage proposals would have on existing recreational opportunities. 

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Proposed Asphalt and Gravel Mine threatens the Upper Colorado River

Evan Stafford

A new proposal to allow the development of a 90- acre open pit mine in Eagle County at the gateway to the Colorado River has local river users asking questions. We encourage everyone to attend an Open House December 6 at 6 PM at the Gypsum Recreation Center, and to make your voices heard at the Town Council meeting where they will discuss the application on December 13 at 7 PM.


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Lyons Outdoor Games and Burning Can to Support AW

Nathan Fey

Lyons, Colorado - For the second year in a row, Oskar Blues Brewery is hosting the Burning Can Festival at this year Lyons Outdoor Games.  Burning Can, which takes place under the backdrop of Rocky Mountain National Park and the St. Vrain River, is a celebration of good beer, served in a can.  This year, All money raised from Lyons Outdoor Games recycled cans will be donated to American Whitewater. See you there!

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AW launches Flow Study for Yampa River

Nathan Fey

Colorado - American Whitewater is conducting a study of flow-recreation relationships for the Yampa Basin, and identifying specific metrics for use in the Watershed Flow Evaluation Tool. This study is intended to inform local, state, and federal planning efforts as to the full range and quality of recreational boating opportunities for the Wild and Scenic suitable Yampa River, as well as the Elk and White Rivers, and their tributaries. Your participation in the flow survey is requested.

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River Access Task Force Submits Recommendations to Colorado Governor

Nathan Fey

Colorado - On December 23, Governor Bill Ritter issued a report outlining a series of proposals for resolving disputes between landowners and rafters in Colorado. He also signed an executive order creating the River Access Mediation Commission to provide a way for some of the most contentious conflicts between boaters and property owners to be addressed. The Governor’s River Access Dispute Resolution Task Force was a 17-member group created in July of 2010 to help craft ways to sort out conflicts on Colorado rivers on a stretch-by-stretch basis as those disputes arise.

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Help Protect the Yampa River - Colorado

Nathan Fey

Colorado - Last month, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) released their proposed management plan for the Little Snake Resource Area, encompassing over a million acres of soaring plateaus, wild and scenic rivers, and sweeping sagebrush basins.  Special interests are trying to overturn the Bureau of Land Management’s plans to protect portions of the Yampa River – one of the nation's last free flowing rivers.    Let BLM know that protections for these rivers are important to you!

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Join AW at PaddleFest '09

Nathan Fey

Whitewater enthusiasts will descend onto the historic town of Buena Vista on the Upper Arkansas River May 22-25th, 2009 (Memorial Day Weekend) for a huge kickoff party to celebrate the start of the summer whitewater boating season. American Whitewater will be there again this year  to give paddlers and river enthusiasts opportunities to learn about the issues facing Colorado’s iconic rivers, and what paddlers can do to protect and enjoy them.

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Toxic Mine Drainage Threatens Arkansas River

Nathan Fey

COLORADO- At the headwaters of the Arkasas River a blocked mine tunnel, filled with toxic water laden with acid and heavy metals, presents an immediate and catastrophic risk to human life, environmental health, and the $65 million whitewater industry.

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How Access to the Numbers was Secured

Thomas O'Keefe

The put-in for the Numbers, one of the most popular in the United States, was closed during the 1990’s after an informal agreement with the landowner was abruptly terminated. AW in partnership with CWWA and local agency representatives successfully brought this important access into public ownership.

Matt Muir


Craig Irwin


Kestrel Kunz


Drew Althage


Revision #Revision DateAuthorComment
1190149 02/12/09 n/a n/a
1202364 09/12/13 Craig Irwin 20130912
1207904 07/09/17 Kestrel Kunz Reach # fixed
1211455 03/15/19 Drew Althage updated description