Scientific consensus says that the Grand Canyon was formed by the Colorado River over a 6 million year period.
The river is 1450 miles long from it's source in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado to the gulf of California (Sea of Cortez). 277 miles of the river runs through the Grand Canyon.
It touches 5 states and has influenced the history of the states of Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico and Utah. All of these states depend on the River for water.
It also runs through three major deserts. It covers 242,000 miles in the United States and 3,000 square miles in Mexico.
It starts in the Rocky Mountains with the snow melt and gradually becomes bigger as it flows out of the Rockies. By the time it reaches the Grand Canyon it is a raging river with white water rapids. The Colorado River is considered to have the best white water rapids in the world, as it flows through the Grand Canyon.
The river initially flooded all the lowlands and need to be controlled by dams and reservoirs along it's route. There is a steep drop of 13,000 feet in the canyon which churns up the river making it fast and furious. It can rip out vegetation, chunks of riverbank and sediment.
Father Francisco Gares named the river Colorado because of its red mud. When you look at the river today it appears reddish in color from all the sediment.
Today the River has several dams. Below the Grand Canyon is the Hoover Dam which holds back Lake Mead. The Glen Canyon Dam holds back Lake Powell. These dams have created ecological problems. It remains to be seen what the end result will be. There are biologists who believe that the dams are the problem and others who feel that the dams cannot be removed.
The River can be seen from space even though you can barely see it from the rim of the Grand Canyon.
We don't know what the future of the River will be. There has been so much growth in the Southwest and the river supports all the new cities and agriculture. The Hoover dam provides electricity to Arizona, Nevada and parts of California. In the end the Colorado River is one of the most controversial rivers in the world both politically and legally. We all wonder about it's future.
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