The Colorado River is one of the most iconic water flows in North America, and plays a vital role for the ecosystem of the American Southwest, as well as for the economic and social life of millions of residents of the states it flows through.
The Colorado River’s headwaters are located in the Centennial State, on the Continental Divide that marks the border between the watersheds of the rivers that flow towards the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. The precise spot where the Colorado begins its long journey towards the Pacific is the La Poudre Pass, located in the Rocky Mountain National Park.
The river carves many canyons along its 1,450 miles itinerary through the states of Colorado, Utah, Arizona, California and Nevada. The best known is, of course, the spectacular Grand Canyon, a 277 miles carving through the red rocks of the Arizona desert. The Grand Canyon is a place of amazing beauty, where millions of years of geological evolution are revealed as the waters of Colorado cut their way through. Reaching at some points a depth of one mile, the Grand Canyon is one of the most beautiful places in the world, and millions of tourists come every year to admire its magnificent scenery.
The Colorado River passes through some of the most arid regions in North America, supplying vital water to millions of people. The entire city of Las Vegas depends on the water of the Colorado River, as do many other cities and towns throughout the Southwest. The great river is also vital for the economy of the region, providing water, energy, and transportation. The impressive Hoover Dam, built in the harsh years of the Great Depression, holds the water of the Colorado and forms a gigantic artificial lake called Lake Mead, supplying water for irrigation and domestic use for the Las Vegas metropolitan area, and electric energy for a large number of households.
The Colorado is an important link in the ecosystem of the Southwest, providing water for the otherwise dry desert areas of Nevada and Arizona, and sustaining a thriving ecosystem. The Colorado flows into the Pacific Ocean, forming a delta located in the Mexican state of Baja California. Although over the years, massive water distribution systems have diminished the amount of water that reaches the ocean, the Colorado delta is still supporting a great abundance of wildlife.
The Colorado River is one of the most important geographical features of the American Southwest region, contributing in great amount to its economic prosperity.