map courtesy of Wikipedia
The Colorado River starts northwest of Denver, Colorado and twists and turns through 7 states and Mexico before ending in the Gulf of California.
There are two parts to the river, the upper Colorado and the lower. The upper Colorado winds through the mountains of Colorado, Utah and Arizona.
White water rapids and many canyons and waterfalls string out along the river's journey west and south.
It was extremely dangerous for the early explorers who tried to follow the river to its end, only to be discouraged from traveling further.
However, early native people called hunter-gatherers, lived the river area around 8,000 years ago.
Then between 1,000 and 2,000 years ago, these natives became farmers and used the Colorado to irrigate their crops.
In the lower river basin, which includes Arizona, California and Mexico, Spanish explorers were trying to claim the area in the 1500's as a source to the gold promised in tales and myths.
The Colorado Basin became part of the U.S. in 1846 and the actual flow of the river was still unknown.
In 1869, John Wesley Powell, an American explorer, took an expedition from the mouth of the Colorado River and ran the rapids to try and map the river for developing a water route to other territories.
In the lower river basin, settlements and commerce had sprung up using the calmer lower basin for boat travel and transportation of supplies.
Engineering of the Colorado began in the early 1900's. Dams were constructed at key areas along the river.
The Hoover Dam at the Nevada/Arizona border, the Glen Canyon Dam in Arizona, and the Imperial Dam at the border of Arizona/California.
The Colorado is instrumental in bringing power and electricity to many western states, as well as agriculture and outdoor activities.
Lake Powell and Lake Mead are formed from the dams being built on the river and have become destination playgrounds.
The river flowing through the Grand Canyon is host to many white water rafting thrills and chills.
And in the state of Colorado where the river originates, there are the best in white water rafting excursions and camping you will ever find.
photo courtesy of Wikipedia
But keep in mind that the river is so much more important than just fun. 40 million people depend on the Colorado's ability to supply power for the Intermountain west.