The need to provide accurate estimates of precipitation over catchments in the Hindu Kush, Karakoram, and Himalaya mountain ranges for hydrological and water resource systems assessments is widely recognized, as is identifying precipitation extremes for assessing hydro-meteorological hazards. Here, we investigate the ability of bias-corrected Weather Research and Forecasting model output at 5-km grid spacing to reproduce the spatiotemporal variability of precipitation for the Beas and Sutlej river basins in the Himalaya, measured by 44 stations spread over the period 1980 to 2012. For the Sutlej basin, we find that the raw (uncorrected) model output generally underestimated annual, monthly, and (particularly low-intensity) daily precipitation amounts. For the Beas basin, the model performance was better, although biases still existed. It is speculated that the cause of the dry bias over the Sutlej basin is a failure of the model to represent an early-morning maximum in precipitation during the monsoon period, which is related to excessive precipitation falling upwind. However, applying a nonlinear bias-correction method to the model output resulted in much better results, which were superior to precipitation estimates from reanalysis and two gridded datasets. These findings highlight the difficulty in using current gridded datasets as input for hydrological modeling in Himalayan catchments, suggesting that bias-corrected high-resolution regional climate model output is in fact necessary. Moreover, precipitation extremes over the Beas and Sutlej basins were considerably underrepresented in the gridded datasets, suggesting that bias-corrected regional climate model output is also necessary for hydro-meteorological risk assessments in Himalayan catchments. © 2019. The Authors.