The Colorado River is the heart and soul of the Grand Canyon. A full 277 miles roars through the ever-changing terrain of the canyon, shaping its edges and hugging each curve in the landscape. You may have marveled at the sheer majesty of the river, but there are some things you should know to appreciate the history and magnitude of the mighty river. Get to know the Colorado River with these three exciting facts!
The Colorado River is considered one of the most important water systems in the U.S.
This is a rather weighty title to carry, but the Colorado River lives up to its honors. It is one of the most important rivers in the country. The river is not only responsible for a host of important historic and geological events, but it provides necessary resources to the people of today.
The river and its tributaries provide drinking water to over 40 million people and the hydropower generated from the river surges over 4,200 megawatts of electrical capacity. The Colorado River is an invaluable natural resource for many Americans living in the western states.
It runs through two countries and seven American states.
Although the Colorado River runs 277 miles through the Grand Canyon, the full length spans an impressive 1,450 miles through Wyoming, Utah, Arizona, Colorado, California, Nevada, and even in to Mexico. The rivers headwaters are perched up in the 14,000 foot peaks of the Rocky Mountains in Colorado.
Many people get to enjoy the river as it flows through so many states. Here in Arizona, we are lucky enough to have the opportunity to use the river for recreation and rafting trips in the Grand Canyon. White water rafting on Colorado River rapids is an experience like no other.
Its origins trace back nearly 5 million years ago.
The Colorado River has a long history that dates back to the days when the earth’s plates were still shifting. There is strong evidence that the Colorado River broke through the Grand Canyon about five million years ago. Evidence suggests that the river began to flow and break ground through the Rocky Mountains as they were still forming to their present height.
Here are some fun facts for all of you geology enthusiasts out there: the river cuts through a type of metamorphic rock called schist that is over 1.75 billion (yes, BILLION) years old. This important fact traces back to how the mountains and rivers were originally formed through volcanic activity. The top layer of rock, Kaibab limestone, sits on the surface of the Grand Canyon, which attracts over five million visitors annually.
Come visit the Colorado River yourself to get up close and personal with its beauty and history.