Some of the West's most important rivers flow out of Colorado and near into the barren desert of Utah, New Mexico, Arizona and Wyoming. One river in fact-The Rio Grande-starts from humble beginnings as a collection of streams in the San Juan Mountains before racing towards the Gulf of Mexico defining the western border of Texas and Mexico. Many of these rivers stretch for thousands of miles and are responsible for a vast majority of the West's water supply. Dammed, diverted, dammed again, and petering out before the Mighty Pacific it is hard to imagine a landscape void of these powerful rivers snaking through the cracked dry earth.
Possibly the most famous river to emerge from Colorado is the Colorado River, which flows more than 2,000 miles through five states and Mexico, where it peters out before reaching the Pacific. Several world-class whitewater rafting runs can be found on the river including Cataract Canyon south of Moab, Utah and The Grand Canyon in Arizona. The river is also dammed in several places creating massive reservoirs filling up deep red rock canyons. Lake Powell is one of the most famous reservoirs and due to recent drought may never be filled up again. Boaters now see a white bathtub ring around the reservoirs walls. The San Juan River carves around "gooseneck" formations in southeastern Utah, and affords visitors a great and unique view at Goosenecks State Park.
Another major river flowing out of Colorado is the Arkansas River flowing just shy of 1,500 miles before meeting up with the Mississippi River. The Arkansas is one of the Mississippi's largest tributaries and flows through Colorado, Kansas, Okalahoma and Arkansas. Near the headwaters of the Arkansas in southeastern Colorado it is known as one of the best trout fishing rivers in America.
Beginning north of Colorado in the Wind River Mountains the Green River races southward cutting through Wyoming, Colorado, and Utah, before meeting up with the Colorado River. Both the White River and Yampa River are tributaries of the Green River and are also included in the Green's watershed. Known for spectacular multi-day rafting trips, the Green is truly one of the West's gems.
Finally in northern Wyoming deep in the depths of Yellowstone National Park the Snake River forms before flowing west eventually merging with the Colombia River. Cutting through Grand Teton National Park, the Snake River is a beautiful ribbon of water providing adventure seekers with an array of options. If you can, grab a rafting trip down the Snake starting by Jackson Hole, Wyoming. Short and sweet the section will leave yo