This sediment nourished wetlands and riparian areas along the river's lower course, particularly in its 3,000-square-mile (7,800 km2) delta, once the largest desert estuary on the continent. From its sources in the San Juan Mountains of southwestern Colorado, the Rio Grande flows to the southeast and south for 175 miles (280 km) in Colorado, southerly for about 470 miles (760 km) across New Mexico, and southeasterly for about 1,240 miles (2,000 km) between Texas and the Mexican states of Chihuahua, Coahuila, Nuevo León, and Tamaulipas to the Gulf of Mexico. Although there was still a surplus of water in the Colorado Basin during the mid-20th century, the Bureau of Reclamation predicted, correctly, that eventually population growth would outstrip the available supply and require the transfer of water from other sources. Some of these claims have been successful for the Navajo, such as a 2004 settlement in which they received a 326,000-acre-foot (402,000 ML) allotment from New Mexico. The Colorado River (Spanish: Río Colorado) is one of the principal rivers (along with the Rio Grande) in the Southwestern United States and northern Mexico. Navigation along the river is hindered by the presence of natural and artificial obstacles such as waterfalls and dams, respectively. Between 600 and 700 A.D. they began to employ irrigation on a large scale, and did so more prolifically than any other native group in the Colorado River basin. The area’s first human inhabitants were thought to be members of various American Indian tribes including the Shuswap, Nez Percé, Shoshone, Hopi, Pueblo, and Navajo as well as several nomadic tribes such as the Crow, Blackfoot, and Cheyenne. It was intended to boost supplies for the Lower Basin states of Arizona, California and Nevada as well as Mexico, thus allowing the Upper Basin states to retain native Colorado River flows for their own use. The Colorado River begins in north central Colorado and ends at the Gulf of California. The Rocky Mountains begin in Canada and are part of what’s known as the Canadian Cordillera which includes mountain ranges located from Canada’s Prairie Provinces westward to the coast of the Pacific Ocean. The aqueduct is one of three conveyance systems of imported water to Southern California, the other two being the California Aqueduct and the Los Angeles Aqueduct. The Missouri River in North Dakota.  Ute peoples have inhabited the northern Colorado River basin, mainly in present-day Colorado, Wyoming and Utah, for at least 2,000 years, but did not become well established in the Four Corners area until 1500 A.D. The Apache, Cocopah, Halchidhoma, Havasupai, Hualapai, Maricopa, Pima, and Quechan are among many other groups that live along or had territories bordering on the Colorado River and its tributaries. In a desperate gamble to close the breach, crews of the Southern Pacific Railroad, whose tracks ran through the valley, attempted to dam the Colorado above the canal, only to see their work demolished by a flash flood. , In the 21st century, there has been renewed interest in restoring a limited water flow to the delta. Nevertheless, he had shown the worth of steamboats to solve Fort Yuma's supply problem. Salinity is one of the major issues and also leads to the corrosion of pipelines in agricultural and urban areas. Where Does the Rio Grande River Start?  On the south, the watersheds of the Sonoyta, Concepción, and Yaqui rivers, all of which drain to the Gulf of California, border that of the Colorado. In 1852, the Uncle Sam was launched to provide supplies to the U.S. Army outpost at Fort Yuma. At Morelos Dam, the entire remaining flow of the Colorado is diverted to irrigate the Mexicali Valley, among Mexico's most fertile agricultural lands. Missionaries sought to convert indigenous peoples to Christianity – an effort sometimes successful, such as in Father Eusebio Francisco Kino's 1694 encounter with the "docile Pimas of the Gila Valley [who] readily accepted Kino and his Christian teachings".  When these plans were publicized, the environmental movement – still reeling from the Glen Canyon controversy – successfully lobbied against the project. Date Taken: Monday, April 18, 2016 , It was not long before the Colorado River began to wreak havoc with its erratic flows. , The time scale and sequence over which the river's present course and the Grand Canyon were formed is uncertain. Click to see large. :49 Callville remained the head of navigation on the river until July 7, 1879, when Captain J. :5–9, At last Derby's recommendation was heeded and in November 1852, the Uncle Sam, a 65-foot-long side-wheel paddle steamer, built by Domingo Marcucci, became the first steamboat on the Colorado River.  The 277 miles (446 km) of the river that flow through the Grand Canyon are largely encompassed by Grand Canyon National Park and are known for their difficult whitewater, separated by pools that reach up to 110 feet (34 m) in depth.. Where Does The Missouri River Start And End?  A profusion of other tribes have made a continued, lasting presence along the Colorado River. , More than 1,600 species of plants grow in the Colorado River watershed, ranging from the creosote bush, saguaro cactus, and Joshua trees of the Sonoran and Mojave Deserts to the forests of the Rocky Mountains and other uplands, composed mainly of ponderosa pine, subalpine fir, Douglas-fir and Engelmann spruce. The use of horses spread through the basin via trade between the various tribes and greatly facilitated hunting, communications, travel and warfare for indigenous peoples. First in November 1850 to January 1851, by its transport schooner, Invincible under Captain Alfred H. Wilcox and then by its longboat commanded by Lieutenant George Derby. Map of the Colorado River basin.  Here, the San Juan River, carrying runoff from the southern slope of Colorado's San Juan Mountains, joins the Colorado from the east. Clear, cold water released by dams has significantly changed characteristics of habitat for these and other Colorado River basin fishes. , One of the earliest water projects in the Colorado River basin was the Grand Ditch, a 16-mile (26 km) diversion canal that sends water from the Never Summer Mountains, which would naturally have drained into the headwaters of the Colorado River, to bolster supplies in Colorado's Front Range Urban Corridor. Get exclusive access to content from our 1768 First Edition with your subscription. Alarcón may have sailed the Colorado as far upstream as the present-day California–Arizona border. In the 21st century, they have filed legal claims against the governments of Arizona, New Mexico and Utah for increased water rights. We are three-quarters of a mile in the depths of the earth, and the great river shrinks into insignificance, as it dashes its angry waves against the walls and cliffs, that rise to the world above; they are but puny ripples, and we but pigmies, running up and down the sands, or lost among the boulders. The 1,450-mile-long (2,330 km) river drains an expansive, arid watershed that encompasses parts of seven U.S. states and two Mexican states.  Modern studies of tree rings revealed that those three decades were probably the wettest in the past 500 to 1,200 years and that the natural long-term annual flow past Lee's Ferry is probably closer to 13.5 million acre feet (16.7 km3),[n 9] as compared to the natural flow at the mouth of 16.3 million acre feet (20.1 km3).  The most prominent riparian zones along the river occur along the lower Colorado below Davis Dam, especially in the Colorado River Delta, where riparian areas support 358 species of birds despite the reduction in freshwater flow and invasive plants such as tamarisk (salt cedar). Beavers, muskrat, and birds, including the bald eagle, favour stream banks lined with willow, cottonwood, and tamarisk. , Climate varies widely across the watershed. PhD diss. At one time the gulf extended farther to the northwest, above the point at which the Colorado now enters. The longest of these unbroken trunk canyons through which the Colorado flows is the spectacular Grand Canyon, extending from the mouth of the Paria to the Grand Wash Stream. The lighting of the boats has this advantage: they will ride the waves better, and we shall have little to carry when we make a portage. These early settlers were impressed by the extensive ruins of the Hohokam civilization that previously occupied the Gila River valley, and are said to have "envisioned their new agricultural civilization rising as the mythical phoenix bird from the ashes of Hohokam society". Most thru-hikers and bikers begin their trips from The Colorado Trail’s northern terminus at Waterton Canyon, southwest of the Denver metro area.For most it’s not only because the elevation gain heading south is much more gradual than it is for those heading northbound from Durango, where the CT ascends to more than 12,000 feet in the first 23 miles.  A large estuary is formed here before the Colorado empties into the Gulf about 75 miles (120 km) south of Yuma. , The second Corps of Topographical Engineers expedition passed along and crossed the Colorado was the 1853–1854 Pacific Railroad Survey expedition along the 35th parallel north from Oklahoma to Los Angeles, led by Lt. Amiel Weeks Whipple.  The tables at right list data associated with eight of these gauges. Central Arizona initially relied on the Gila River and its tributaries through projects such as the Theodore Roosevelt and Coolidge Dams – completed in 1911 and 1928, respectively. Constructed primarily by Japanese and Mexican laborers, the ditch was considered an engineering marvel when completed in 1890, delivering 17,700 acre feet (21,800 ML) across the Continental Divide each year. , Between 1850 and 1854 the U. S. Army explored the lower reach of the Colorado River from the Gulf of California, looking for the river to provide a less expensive route to supply the remote post of Fort Yuma. Detailed Map of Colorado. , Beginning in the 17th century, contact with Europeans brought significant changes to the lifestyles of Native Americans in the Colorado River basin. The Colorado's Cataract Canyon and many reaches in the Colorado headwaters are even more heavily used than the Grand Canyon, and about 60,000 boaters run a single 4.5-mile (7.2 km) section above Radium, Colorado, each year. The Colorado River Land Company, formed by Los Angeles Times publisher Harry Chandler, his father-in-law Harrison Gray Otis, and others, developed the Mexicali Valley in Baja California as a thriving land company. At least 13 lava dams were formed, the largest of which was more than 2,300 feet (700 m) high, backing the river up for nearly 500 miles (800 km) to present-day Moab, Utah. #81, 32nd Congress, 1st Session, Washington, 1852, Richard E. Lingenfelter, Steamboats on the Colorado River, 1852–1916, University of Arizona Press, Tucson, 1978. He ascended the river in twenty one days as far as the first rapids in Pyramid Canyon, over 300 miles (480 km) above Fort Yuma and 8 miles (13 km) above the modern site of Davis Dam. Stone's Ferry was established by these colonists on the Colorado at the mouth of the Virgin River to carry their produce on a wagon road to the mining districts of Mohave County, Arizona to the south. Where Does the Rio Grande River Start?  Most of the annual runoff in the basin occurs with the melting of Rocky Mountains snowpack, which begins in April and peaks during May and June before exhausting in late July or early August.  The Colorado River Aqueduct, which delivers water nearly 250 miles (400 km) from near Parker Dam to 10 million people in the Los Angeles metropolitan area, was completed in 1941. , Sediments carried from the plateau by the Colorado River created a vast delta made of more than 10,000 cubic miles (42,000 km3) of material that walled off the northernmost part of the gulf in approximately 1 million years. Evidence shows that humans began living in the Rockies sometime between 10,000 and 8,000 BCE. As the river brought its load of silt from the mountains and hills above to the gulf, however, it gradually erected a vast natural dam, and the waters on the north were separated from those on the south. Where Does the Yellowstone River Begin and End? Our editors will review what you’ve submitted and determine whether to revise the article.  The river widens here to a broad, moderately deep waterway averaging 500 to 1,000 feet (150 to 300 m) wide and reaching up to 0.25 miles (400 m) across, with depths ranging from 8 to 60 feet (2 to 20 m). Sierra Club leader David Brower fought the dam both during the construction and for many years afterwards until his death in 2000.  Despite above-average runoff in 2011 that raised the immense reservoir more than 30 feet (9.1 m), record drought conditions returned in 2012 and 2013. In the Imperial Valley, Colorado River water used for irrigation overflows into the New and Alamo rivers and into the Salton Sea. Next morning he to steamed up through the rapids in Boulder Canyon to reach the mouth of the Virgin River at Rioville July 8, 1879. Accidentally introduced in the mid-19th century, the tamarisk shrub has spread rapidly along the river, consuming large amounts of water because of its deep-running roots and the high transpiration rate of its leaves. Other significant population centers in the basin include Tucson, Arizona; St. George, Utah; and Grand Junction, Colorado. Author of.  In 2013, the Bureau of Reclamation estimated that around $32 million was spent each year to prevent around 1.2 million tons of salt from entering and damaging the Colorado River. Le Colorado est un fleuve du Sud-Ouest des États-Unis et du Nord-Ouest du Mexique.Il naît dans les montagnes Rocheuses dans le nord de l'État du Colorado, sur les flancs du mont Richthofen, et se jette dans le golfe de Californie, au Mexique, après avoir parcouru environ 2 330 km.Il traverse une région élevée (1 600 mètres en moyenne) et aride. The Colorado then cut a channel into the lower gulf. border, and runoff from these areas nourished abundant grassland communities in river valleys.  Below this point, the remaining flow is diverted to irrigate the Mexicali Valley, leaving a dry riverbed from Morelos Dam to the sea that is supplemented by intermittent flows of irrigation drainage water. [n 6] Phoenix in Arizona and Las Vegas in Nevada are the largest metropolitan areas in the watershed. :11–12:34, Lorenzo Sitgreaves led the first Corps of Topographical Engineers mission across northern Arizona to the Colorado River (near modern Bullhead City, Arizona), and down its east bank to the river crossings of the Southern Immigrant Trail at Fort Yuma in 1851. Let us know if you have suggestions to improve this article (requires login). , The Puebloans dominated the basin of the San Juan River, and the center of their civilization was in Chaco Canyon. Course. The western end of the Grand Canyon is where the Colorado River empties into Lake Mead at the Arizona-Nevada border. John Wesley Powell’s dangerous yet spectacular exploration of Colorado River canyons (1869 and 1871–72) was the most celebrated and the first to concentrate directly on the river. Situated southeast of metropolitan Las Vegas, the dam is an integral component for management of the Colorado River, controlling floods and storing water for farms and cities in the lower Colorado River basin. With the guidance of Hopi Indians, Cárdenas and his men became the first outsiders to see the Grand Canyon. What falls there are, we know not; what rocks beset the channel, we know not; what walls rise over the river, we know not; Ah, well!  As the Colorado Plateau continued to rise between 5 and 2.5 million years ago, the river maintained its ancestral course (as an antecedent stream) and began to cut the Grand Canyon.  The name Tizon lasted for the next 200 years. Most of the major dams were built between 1910 and 1970; the system keystone, Hoover Dam, was completed in 1935. 1050x879 / 112 Kb Go to Map. Through the mid-1800s, the river between Green River and the Gunnison River was most commonly known as the Grand River. The program reduced the annual load by about 1.2 million short tons (1,100,000 t), but salinity remains an ongoing issue. Spence Reservoir, and O.H. The latter name did not become consistently applied until the 1870s.  Controversy reached a nationwide scale, and the USBR dropped its plans for the Dinosaur dams in exchange for a dam at Flaming Gorge and a raise to an already-proposed dam at Glen Canyon. Park Maps Download PDF Map of the North Rim and Grand Canyon Lodge Our boats, tied to a common stake, are chafing each other, as they are tossed by the fretful river. , Meanwhile, large-scale development was also beginning on the opposite end of the Colorado River. Fathers Dominguez and Escalante named it Rio San Rafael in 1776.  For the first 250 miles (400 km) of its course, the Colorado carves its way through the mountainous Western Slope, a sparsely populated region defined by the portion of the state west of the Continental Divide. , Reduction in flow caused by dams, diversions, water for thermoelectric power stations, and evaporation losses from reservoirs – the latter of which consumes more than 15 percent of the river's natural runoff—has had severe ecological consequences in the Colorado River Delta and the Gulf of California.  , The first humans of the Colorado River basin were likely Paleo-Indians of the Clovis and Folsom cultures, who first arrived on the Colorado Plateau about 12,000 years ago. Poling the barges up the Colorado, the first barge sank with its cargo a total loss. This has led to fish kills; six of these events were recorded between 1964 and 1968 alone. Fisheries have declined in many streams in the watershed, especially in the Rocky Mountains, because of polluted runoff from mining and agricultural activities. Each was given rights to 7.5 million acre feet (9.3 km3) of water per year, a figure believed to represent half of the river's minimum flow at Lee's Ferry. The Colorado River in Canyonlands National Park, Utah. Kino's 1701 map, "Paso por Tierra a la California," is the first known map to label the river as the Colorado. , Completed in 1938 some 20 miles (32 km) above Yuma, Imperial Dam diverts nearly all of the Colorado's flow into two irrigation canals. , Below Imperial Dam, only a small portion of the Colorado River makes it beyond Yuma, Arizona, and the confluence with the intermittent Gila River—which carries runoff from western New Mexico and most of Arizona–before defining about 24 miles (39 km) of the Mexico–United States border.  Another notable early group was the Fremont culture, whose peoples inhabited the Colorado Plateau from 2,000 to 700 years ago. The river, draining 58,100 sq mi (150,500 sq km), flows 630 mi (1,015 km) west and southwest over desert land to the Colorado River at Yuma, Ariz. Its chief tributaries Er fließt von den Bergen der Rocky Mountains nach Utah und Arizona und bildet größtenteils die Grenze zwischen Arizona und Nevada sowie die komplette Grenze zwischen Arizona und Kalifornien.  After a short run south, the river turns west below Grand Lake, the largest natural lake in the state. , Eleven U.S. national parks—Arches, Black Canyon of the Gunnison, Bryce Canyon, Canyonlands, Capitol Reef, Grand Canyon, Mesa Verde, Petrified Forest, Rocky Mountain, Saguaro, and Zion—are in the watershed, in addition to many national forests, state parks, and recreation areas.  The Hohokam culture was present along the middle Gila River beginning around 1 A.D. “It’s sad to see the mighty Colorado River come to a dribble and end some 50 miles north of the sea.” Sarah Zielinski is an assistant editor for Smithsonian. - Check out Tripadvisor members' 50,840 candid photos and videos of Colorado River Discovery The river above the junction with the Gunnison River, however, was known variously as the Bunkara River, the North Fork of the Grand River, the Blue River, and the Grand River. Details. Quick Facts", "United States Geological Survey Topographic Maps: Blythe NE, California quad", "Fighting For Water in Arid Imperial Valley", "Border Water Source of Conflict and Cooperation: What Makes Management of Border Water Resources a Challenge? :15 It was brought by the schooner Capacity from San Francisco to the delta by the next contractor to supply the fort, Captain James Turnbull.  A variety of methods were employed to combat these problems, including the construction of large dams, but when a megadrought hit the region in the 14th century A.D. the ancient civilizations of the Colorado River basin abruptly collapsed. , The Colorado River basin shares drainage boundaries with many other major watersheds of North America. Early contact between Europeans and Native Americans was generally limited to the fur trade in the headwaters and sporadic trade interactions along the lower river. Starting in Denver.  In Chaco Canyon and the surrounding lands, they built more than 150 multi-story pueblos or "great houses", the largest of which, Pueblo Bonito, is composed of more than 600 rooms. , Large dams such as Hoover and Glen Canyon typically release water from lower levels of their reservoirs, resulting in stable and relatively cold year-round temperatures in long reaches of the river. Starting in the 1860s, gold and silver strikes drew prospectors to parts of the upper Colorado River basin. The water will be used to provide both an annual base flow and a spring "pulse flow" to mimic the river's original snowmelt-driven regime.  The construction of Hoover was a major step towards stabilizing the lower channel of the Colorado River, storing water for irrigation in times of drought, and providing much-needed flood control as part of a program known as the Boulder Canyon Project. , The next contractors George Alonzo Johnson with his partner Benjamin M. Hartshorne, brought two barges and 250 tons of supplies arriving at the river's mouth in February 1852, on the United States transport schooner Sierra Nevada under Captain Wilcox. The Colorado Trail Map Book: A map set available on the The Colorado Trail Foundation website for $46.95: CT Topo Map Book: Detailed, up-to-date topographic maps and waypoints help you navigate The Colorado Trail and plan your trips. Several expeditions charted the Colorado in the mid-19th century—one of which, led by John Wesley Powell, was the first to run the rapids of the Grand Canyon. Running low on food he turned back. Because of the imminent danger, the railroad repaired the break and in 1907 completed a line of protective levees. Under Brigham Young's grand vision for a "vast empire in the desert", (the State of Deseret) Mormon settlers were among the first whites to establish a permanent presence in the watershed, Fort Clara or Fort Santa Clara, in the winter of 1855–1856 along the Santa Clara River, tributary of the Virgin River. Up in central north Colorado rests North Park (Colorado basin), a valley ringed by 12,000 feet (3,700 m) mountains.The headwaters of the river is essentially all of Jackson County, Colorado whose boundaries are the continental divide on the west and south and the mountain drainage peaks on the east—the north boundary is the state of Wyoming boundary. Find local businesses, view maps and get driving directions in Google Maps. The Ancient Puebloan (also known as Anasazi or Hisatsinom) people of the Four Corners region were descended from the Desert Archaic culture. The famed opposition to Glen Canyon Dam, the primary feature of the CRSP, did not build momentum until construction was well underway. The Pacific Southwest Water Plan was the first major proposal to divert water to the Colorado Basin from other river basins – namely, from the wetter northwestern United States.  Below San Luis Río Colorado, the Colorado passes entirely into Mexico, defining the Baja California–Sonora border.  The rapids of the Green River's Gray and Desolation Canyons and the less difficult "Goosenecks" section of the lower San Juan River are also frequently traversed by boaters. The modern period began with Spanish exploration and settlement from the mid-16th century, which yielded brief descriptions of the Colorado but no permanent settlements such as those along the upper Rio Grande.  The lower Colorado's salt content was about 50 parts per million (ppm) in its natural state, but by the 1960s, it had increased to well over 2000 ppm. [The Colorado is] a 'deficit' river, as if the river were somehow at fault for its overuse.  Elevations range from sea level at the Gulf of California to 14,321 feet (4,365 m) at the summit of Uncompahgre Peak in Colorado, with an average of 5,500 feet (1,700 m) across the entire basin. Hoover was the tallest dam in the world at the time of construction and also had the world's largest hydroelectric power plant. The Colorado River (map) is a very large river located in the southwestern United States and northwestern Mexico. 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