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Colorado River: Location, History and Facts

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Colorado River, one of the largest rivers began its life as a tiny stream of water following cracks in the earth from melting of the richness of snow and ice from the Rocky Mountains.

The Colorado River has slowly carved its vast course that spans 1,397.25 miles to date over the past 6 million years. The basin has carved its distinct course through 2 billion years of earth’s undisturbed crust which is divided into two regions, the Upper Basin and the Lower Basin which includes seven states-Wyoming, Colorado, Utah, New Mexico, Nevada and California. Over time the Colorado river has connected with tributaries-including Paria, San Juan, San Miguel, Dolores, Gunnison, Uncompahgre, Green, and Escalante Rivers-after naturally carving its unique path that eventually leads the river to empty out in the Gulf of California.

Leading up to the river mouth approximately 17 miles of the river forms the international boundary between the U.S. state of Arizona and Mexico. Just as the seven states rely heavily on the river so does Mexico, which utilizes the river to irrigate half a million acres of farmland. Throughout the river there are two major hydroelectric dams, the Hoover and Glen Canyon Dam, which provide necessary energy that produces 4,000 megawatts of hydroelectricity.

The river attracts 20 million annual visitor days of recreation who utilize the river for boating, fishing, jet skiing and many other boat related activities. The Colorado River is lacking in some areas while being cruelly exposed by human overuse, environmental issues play a big role in the ecology, and poor river management techniques are leading to less capable water. While the river is an overly-dispensed water resource, the water quality of the river is endangered by agricultural strain, which upsurges the salinity of the river.

Additionally, this dependency is amplified by climactic factors. As precipitation plays an x-factor and the rising temperatures allow for limited amount of snowmelt to added, the rivers flow can only decrease, which will lead to a decrease in its storage availability. The security of the river’s surrounding environment that modestly acquires water is now on constant threat due to aggressive species, such as the Tamarisk, or Salt Cedar who utilize the water more harshly than native vegetation.

Smaller unknown hydroelectric dams that are spread throughout the Colorado River tributaries potentially cause harm to the environment, while large dams are needed to produce large amounts of energy.

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Colorado River: Location, History and Facts. (2019, January 15). GradesFixer. Retrieved September 22, 2021, from
“Colorado River: Location, History and Facts.” GradesFixer, 15 Jan. 2019,
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Colorado River: Location, History and Facts [Internet]. GradesFixer. 2019 Jan 15 [cited 2021 Sept 22]. Available from:
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