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The Missouri River is the second longest river in North America and a major waterway of the central United States. Rising in the Rocky Mountains of western Montana, the Missouri flows east and south for 2,341 miles (3,767 km) before entering the Mississippi River north of St. Louis, Missouri. The river takes drainage from a sparsely populated, semi-arid watershed of more than half a million square miles (1,300,000 km), which includes parts of ten U.S. states and two Canadian provinces.
For over 12,000 years, people have depended on the Missouri and its tributaries as a source of sustenance and transportation. More than ten major groups of Native Americans populated the watershed, most leading a nomadic lifestyle and dependent on enormous buffalo herds that once roamed through the Great Plains. The first Europeans encountered the river in the late seventeenth century, and the region passed through Spanish and French hands before finally becoming part of the United States through the Louisiana Purchase. The Missouri was long believed to be part of the Northwest Passage – a water route from the Atlantic to the Pacific – but when Lewis and Clark became the first to travel the river's
The Ohio River (Seneca: ohi:yó) is the largest tributary, by volume, of the Mississippi River. At the confluence, the Ohio is even bigger than the Mississippi (Ohio at Cairo: 281,500 cu ft/s (7,960 m/s); Mississippi at Thebes: 208,200 cu ft/s (5,897 m/s)) and, thus, is hydrologically the main stream of the whole river system, including the Allegheny River further upstream. It is approximately 981 miles (1,579 km) long and is located in the Eastern United States.
The river had great significance in the history of the Native Americans, as numerous civilizations formed along its valley. In the five centuries prior to European contact, the Mississippian culture built numerous regional chiefdoms and major earthwork mounds in the Ohio Valley, such as Angel Mounds near Evansville, Indiana, as well as in the Mississippi Valley and the Southeast. For thousands of years, Native Americans, like the European explorers and settlers who followed them, used the river as a major transportation and trading route. Its waters connected communities. The Osage, Omaha, Ponca and Kaw lived in the Ohio Valley, but under pressure from the Iroquois to the northeast, migrated west of the Mississippi River to
The Sun River (also called the Medicine River) is a tributary of the Missouri River in the Great Plains, approximately 130 mi (209 km) long, in Montana in the United States.
It rises in the Rocky Mountains in two forks, the North Fork and South Fork, which join in the Flathead National Forest above Gibson Reservoir along the county line between Teton and Lewis and Clark counties. It flows E, SE, and E away from the mountains, past Simms, Sun River, and Vaughn and joins the Missouri at Great Falls.
The water of the river is used extensively for irrigation, through the Sun River Project of the United States Bureau of Reclamation. The irrigation area covers approximately 92,000 acres (372 km²).
The North Fork of the Sun River begins high up in the Bob Marshall Wilderness and flows generally Southward for about 20 miles (32 km) until it meets up with the South Fork of the Sun River. Almost immediately the two forks flow into Gibson Reservoir. From when the water leaves the reservoir until it meets the Missouri River in Great Falls, the flowage is known as the Sun River.
The Sun is a Class I river from Gibson Dam to its confluence with the Missouri River for public access for
The Touchet River is the largest tributary of the Walla Walla River in southeastern Washington in the United States.
The upper Touchet was a traditional summer meeting place for trade and games for the Palus, Nez Perce and Walla Walla tribes. The name Touchet derives from the similarly pronounced Sahaptin term for the river, Tu-se meaning roasting. Nez Perce legend tells that coyote roasted salmon at this river after breaking a fish dam guarded by the seven swallow sisters at Celilo.
The USGS cited two variant names, Pouchet River and Toosha River.
The Touchet River drains an area of approximately 740 square miles (1,900 km). It is 137 km (85 mi) in length. The average annual flow of the Touchet is 6.23 m³/s (220 ft³/s), not including diversions.
Its headwaters lie in the Umatilla National Forest which is located in the Blue Mountains in Columbia County, southern Washington. It originates above the town of Dayton, Washington. It then passes through Waitsburg and Prescott before joining the Walla Walla at the town of Touchet, Washington.
The main Touchet River is formed by the confluence of the North Fork of the Touchet which originates in the vicinity of the Bluewood Ski Area, and
The Gallatin River is a tributary of the Missouri River, approximately 120 mi (193 km long), in the U.S. states of Wyoming and Montana. It is one of three rivers, along with the Jefferson and Madison, that converge near Three Forks, Montana, to form the Missouri.
It rises in the northwest corner of Yellowstone National Park, in northwestern Wyoming, in the Gallatin Range of the Rocky Mountains. It flows northwest through Gallatin National Forest, past Big Sky, Montana, and joins the Jefferson and Madison approximately 30 mi (48 km) northwest of Bozeman. U.S. Highway 191 follows the river from the Wyoming border to just outside of Bozeman.
The river was named in July 1805 by Meriwether Lewis at Three Forks. The eastern fork of the three, it was named for Albert Gallatin, the U.S. Treasury Secretary from 1801-14. The western fork was named for President Thomas Jefferson and the central fork for Secretary of State James Madison.
The Gallatin River is one of the best whitewater runs in the Yellowstone-Teton Area. In June, when the snowmelt is released from the mountains, the river has a class IV section called the "Mad Mile." This section is over a mile long and contains continuous
The Bitterroot River is a tributary of the Clark Fork River in southwestern Montana, USA. It runs for about 75 miles (121 km) south-to-north through the Bitterroot Valley, from the confluence of its West and East forks near Conner to the Clark Fork near Missoula.
Ravalli County and Missoula County along with the towns along the Bitterroot River, including Hamilton, Stevensville and Missoula, are popular destinations for fly fishing, with rainbow trout being fairly prevalent and with smaller populations of brown trout and cutthroat trout. Although the Bitterroot River passes close by to many residential areas, it is an excellent place for wildlife viewing. Many species of ducks and waterfowl are common along with osprey, bald eagles and heron. Both white-tailed deer and mule deer frequent the river as a source of water and to graze near its banks. The most notable wildlife viewing local along the river is the famous Lee Metcalf National Wildlife Refuge.
The Bitterroot is a Class I river from the confluence of the East and West forks to its confluence with the Clark Fork River for public access for recreational purposes.
The Hood River, formerly known as Dog River, is a tributary of the Columbia River in northwestern Oregon in the United States. Approximately 25 miles (40 km) long from its mouth to its farthest headwaters on the East Fork, the river descends from wilderness areas in the Cascade Range on Mount Hood and flows through the agricultural Hood River Valley to join the Columbia River in the Columbia River Gorge.
It rises in three separate forks on the north side of Mount Hood, within the Mount Hood Wilderness in Hood River County which is approximately 50 miles (80 km) east of Portland.
The West Fork, approximately 15 miles (24 km) long, rises on northwestern Mount Hood from Ladd Glacier. It flows generally east-northeast and joins the East Fork from the west near Dee.
The Middle Fork, approximately 10 miles (16 km) long, rises in several short branches on the north slopes of Mount Hood, from Coe Glacier and Eliot Glacier. It flows north through the upper Hood River Valley.
The East Fork, approximately 15 miles (24 km) long, rises on the eastern side of the mountain in the Mount Hood National Forest fed by Newton-Clark Glacier, and flows northward into the Upper Hood River Valley, where it
The Kansas River (also known as the Kaw) (Lenape: Kansiai Sipu ) is a river in northeastern Kansas in the United States. It is the southwestern-most part of the Missouri River drainage, which is in turn the northwestern-most portion of the extensive Mississippi River drainage. Its name (and nickname) come from the Kanza (Kaw) people who once inhabited the area. The state of Kansas in turn drew its name from the river.
The river valley averages 2.6 miles (4.2 km) in width, with the widest points being between Wamego and Rossville, where it is up to 4 miles (6.4 km) wide, then narrowing to 1 mile (1.6 km) or less in places below Eudora. Much of the river's watershed is dammed for flood control, but the Kansas River is generally free-flowing and has only minor obstructions, including diversion weirs and one low impact hydroelectric dam.
Beginning at the confluence of the Republican and Smoky Hill rivers, just east of aptly named Junction City (1,030 feet / 310 metres), the Kansas River flows some 148 miles (238 km) generally eastward to join the Missouri River at Kaw Point (730 feet / 220 metres) in Kansas City. Dropping only 320 feet (98 m) on its journey seaward, the water in the
The Grand River is the longest river in the U.S. state of Michigan. It runs 252 miles (406 km) through the cities of Jackson, Eaton Rapids, Lansing, Grand Rapids, and Grand Haven.
The Grand river begins in Somerset Township in Hillsdale County, and in Liberty Township in Jackson County, and flows through Jackson, Ingham, Eaton, Clinton, Ionia, Kent, and Ottawa counties before emptying into Lake Michigan.
Its watershed drains an area of 5,572 square miles (14,430 km), including 18 counties and 158 townships. The Grand River carries an average 3,800 ft³/s (108 m³/s). It has several dams along its length but is a trout and salmon stream for much of its length.
It is estimated that 22% of the pesticide usage in the Lake Michigan watershed occurs in the Grand River drainage, which accounts for only 13% of the lake's total watershed. Much of the basin is flat, and it contains many swamps and lakes.
Tributaries are the Flat River, Looking Glass River, Maple River, Red Cedar River, Rogue River, Coldbrook Creek, Plaster Creek, Crockery Creek, and the Thornapple River.
During the ice age era the lower Grand River was part of a glacial river that drained Saginaw Bay into Lake Michigan. The
The Clearwater River is a 74.8-mile-long (120.4 km) river in north central Idaho, which flows westward from the Bitterroot Mountains along the Idaho-Montana border, and joins the Snake River at Lewiston. In October 1805, the Lewis and Clark Expedition descended the Clearwater River in dugout canoes, putting in at "Canoe Camp," five miles (8 km) downstream from Orofino.
By average discharge, the Clearwater River is the largest tributary of the Snake River. The River got its name for the Niimiipuutímt naming as Koos-Koos-Kai-Kai - “clear water”.
The drainage basin of the Clearwater River is 9,645 square miles (24,980 km). Its mean annual discharge is 15,300 cubic feet per second (430 m/s)
At the small town of Kooskia, the Middle Fork and South Fork of the Clearwater River join their waters to form the main stem of the Clearwater. The larger Middle Fork is made up of the combined flows of the Lochsa and Selway rivers which flow from the Bitterroot Mountains located to the east, while the much smaller South Fork originates in the Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness to the south. From the confluence the Clearwater flows northwest, passing the Heart of the Monster site of the Nez Perce National
The Osage River is a 276-mile-long (444 km) tributary of the Missouri River in central Missouri in the United States. The Osage River is one of the larger rivers in Missouri. The river drains a mostly rural area of 15,300 square miles (40,000 km). The watershed includes an area of east-central Kansas and a large portion of west-central and central Missouri where it drains northwest areas of the Ozark Plateau. The river flows generally easterly, then northeasterly for the final 80 miles (130 km) where it joins the Missouri River. It is impounded in two major locations. Most of the river has been converted into a chain of two reservoirs, the Harry S. Truman Reservoir and the Lake of the Ozarks.
The Osage is formed in southwestern Missouri, approximately 14 miles (23 km) northeast of Nevada on the Bates-Vernon county line, by the confluence of the Marais des Cygnes and Little Osage rivers. (The Marais des Cygnes is sometimes counted as part of the river, placing its headwaters in eastern Kansas and bringing its total length to over 500 miles (800 km)). The combined stream flows east past the Schell-Osage Wildlife Area into St. Clair County, widening into a long meandering arm of the
The Jefferson River is a tributary of the Missouri River, approximately 83 miles (134 km) long, in the U.S. state of Montana. The Jefferson River and the Madison River form the official beginning of the Missouri at Missouri Headwaters State Park near Three Forks. It is joined 0.6 miles (1.0 km) downstream (northeast) by the Gallatin.
From broad valleys to a narrow canyon, the Jefferson River passes through a region of significant geological diversity, with some of the oldest and youngest rocks of North America and a diversity of igneous, metamorphic, and sedimentary formations.
The region was only intermittently inhabited by Native Americans until relatively recent times, and no single tribe had exclusive use of the Jefferson River when the Lewis and Clark Expedition first ascended the river in 1805. Today, the Jefferson River retains much of its scenic beauty and wildlife diversity from the days of Lewis and Clark, yet is threatened by water use issues and encroaching development. The Jefferson is a segment of the Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail, administered by the National Park Service.
From the Rocky Mountains of southwestern Montana, three small rivers converge to form
The Marias River is a tributary of the Missouri River, approximately 210 mi (338 km) long, in the U.S. state of Montana. It is formed in the Blackfeet Indian Reservation in Glacier County, in northwestern Montana, by the confluence of the Cut Bank Creek and the Two Medicine River. It flows east, through Lake Elwell, formed by the Tiber Dam, then southeast, receiving the Teton River at Loma, 2 mi. (3.2 km) above its confluence with the Missouri.
The river was explored in 1805 by the Lewis and Clark Expedition. Some of the men on the expedition mistook it for the main branch of the Missouri until their subsequent discovery of the Great Falls of the Missouri near Great Falls, Montana. The river was named by Meriwether Lewis after his cousin, Maria Wood.
The river was the scene of the 1870 Marias Massacre.
The Marias is a Class I river from Tiber Dam to its confluence with the Missouri River for public access for recreational purposes.
The Yellowstone River (Assiniboine: ȟeȟága wakpá, įǧų́ǧa wakpá, į́yąǧi wákpa ) is a tributary of the Missouri River, approximately 692 miles (1,114 km) long, in the western United States. Considered the principal tributary of the upper Missouri, the river and its tributaries drain a wide area stretching from the Rocky Mountains in the vicinity of the Yellowstone National Park across the mountains and high plains of southern Montana and northern Wyoming.
The river rises in northwestern Wyoming in the Absaroka Range, on the Continental Divide in southwestern Park County. The river starts where the North Fork and the South Fork Yellowstone River converge. The North Fork, the larger of the two forks, flows from Younts Peak. The South Fork flows from the southern slopes of Thorofare Mountain. The Yellowstone River flows northward through Yellowstone National Park, feeding and draining Yellowstone Lake, then dropping over the Upper and Lower Yellowstone Falls at the head of the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone within the confines of the park. After passing through the Black Canyon of the Yellowstone downstream of the Grand Canyon, the river flows northward into Montana between the
The Madison River is a headwater tributary of the Missouri River, approximately 183 miles (295 km) long, in Wyoming and Montana. Its confluence with the Jefferson and Gallatin rivers near Three Forks, Montana form the Missouri River.
The Madison rises in Park County in northwestern Wyoming at the confluence of the Firehole and Gibbon rivers, a location known as Madison Junction in Yellowstone National Park. It flows west then north through the mountains of southwestern Montana to join the Jefferson and Gallatin rivers at Three Forks. The Missouri River Headwaters State Park is located on the Madison at Three Forks. In its upper reaches in Gallatin County, Montana, the Hebgen Dam forms Hebgen Lake. In its middle reaches in Madison County, Montana, the Madison Dam forms Ennis Lake and provides hydroelectric power. In 1959, the Hebgen Lake earthquake formed Quake Lake just downstream from Hebgen Dam. Downstream from Ennis, the Madison flows through Bear Trap Canyon, known for its class IV-V whitewater. The Bear Trap Canyon section is part of the Lee Metcalf Wilderness area.
The river was named in July 1805 by Meriwether Lewis at Three Forks. The central fork of the three, it was named
The Columbia River is the largest river in the Pacific Northwest region of North America. The river rises in the Rocky Mountains of British Columbia, Canada. It flows northwest and then south into the U.S. state of Washington, then turns west to form most of the border between Washington and the state of Oregon before emptying into the Pacific Ocean. The river is 1,243 miles (2,000 km) long, and its largest tributary is the Snake River. Its drainage basin is roughly the size of France and extends into seven U.S. states and a Canadian province.
By volume, the Columbia is the fourth-largest river in the United States; it has the greatest flow of any North American river draining into the Pacific. The river's heavy flow and its relatively steep gradient gives it tremendous potential for the generation of electricity. The 14 hydroelectric dams on the Columbia's main stem and many more on its tributaries produce more hydroelectric power than those of any other North American river.
The Columbia and its tributaries have been central to the region's culture and economy for thousands of years. They have been used for transportation since ancient times, linking the many cultural groups of
The Snake is a major river of the greater Pacific Northwest in the United States. At 1,078 miles (1,735 km) long, it is the largest tributary of the Columbia River, the largest North American river that empties into the Pacific Ocean. Rising in western Wyoming, the river flows through the Snake River Plain then rugged Hells Canyon and the rolling Palouse Hills to reach its mouth at the Tri-Cities of the state of Washington. Its drainage basin encompasses parts of six U.S. states, and its average discharge is over 54,000 cubic feet per second (1,500 m/s).
Rugged mountains divided by rolling plains characterize the physiographically diverse watershed of the Snake River. The Snake River Plain was created by a volcanic hotspot which now lies underneath Yellowstone National Park, the headwaters of the Snake River. Gigantic glacial-retreat flooding episodes that occurred during the previous Ice Age carved out many topographical features including various canyons and ridges along the middle and lower Snake. Two of these catastrophic flooding events significantly affected the river and its surrounds.
More than 11,000 years ago, prehistoric Native Americans lived along the Snake. Salmon
The Milk River (Assiniboine: Asą́bi wakpá, Wakpá jukʾána ) is a tributary of the Missouri River, 729 mi (1,173 km) long, in the United States state of Montana and the Canadian province of Alberta. Rising in the Rocky Mountains, the river drains a sparsely populated, semi-arid watershed of 23,800 sq mi (62,000 km), ending just east of Fort Peck, Montana.
It is formed in Glacier County in northwestern Montana, 21 miles (34 km) north of Browning, Montana, by the confluence of its South and Middle forks. The 30-mile (48 km) long South Fork and 20-mile (32 km) long Middle Fork both rise in the Rocky Mountains just east of Glacier National Park, in the Blackfeet Indian Reservation. Much of the water in the North Fork is diverted from the St. Mary River through a canal and inverted siphon.
The main stem flows east-northeast into southern Alberta, where it is joined by the North Fork of the Milk River, then east along the north side of the Sweetgrass Hills. It flows past the town of Milk River and Writing-on-Stone Provincial Park, then turns southeast into Montana, passing through the Fresno Dam, then east past Havre and along the north side of the Fort Belknap Indian Reservation. Near
The Blackfoot River, sometimes called the Big Blackfoot River to distinguish it from the Little Blackfoot River, is a snow-fed and spring-fed river in western Montana. The Blackfoot River begins in Lewis and Clark County at the Continental Divide, 10 miles (16 km) northeast of the town of Lincoln (4536 feet, 1382 m). The river's headwaters are between Rogers Pass (5610 ft, 1710 m) to the north and Stemple Pass (6376 ft, 1943 m) to the south. It flows westward through the town of Milltown and enters the Clark Fork River approximately five miles (8 km) east of the city of Missoula (3210 ft, 978 m).
The Blackfoot River is renowned for its recreational opportunities, most notably fly fishing, but also rafting, canoeing, and inner tubing. The Blackfoot is a fast, cold river with many deep spots, making it prime habitat for several varieties of trout.
The river's canyon and the valleys were formed by the Missoula Floods, cataclysmic glacial lake outburst floods which occurred at the end of the last ice age.
The river is featured in the 1976 novella A River Runs Through It by Norman Maclean, as well as the 1992 film starring Brad Pitt, directed by Robert Redford.
The Blackfoot is a Class
The Mississippi River is the chief river of the largest river system in North America. Flowing entirely in the United States (though its drainage basin reaches into Canada), it rises in northern Minnesota and meanders slowly southwards for 2,530 miles (4,070 km) to the Mississippi River Delta at the Gulf of Mexico. With its many tributaries, the Mississippi's watershed drains all or parts of 31 US states and 2 Canadian provinces between the Rocky and Appalachian Mountains. The Mississippi ranks as the fourth longest and tenth largest river in the world. The river either borders or cuts through the states of Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa, Illinois, Missouri, Kentucky, Tennessee, Arkansas, Mississippi, and Louisiana.
Native Americans lived along the Mississippi and its tributaries. Most were hunter-gatherers or herders, but some, such as the Mound builders, formed prolific agricultural societies. The arrival of Europeans in the 1500s changed the native way of life as first explorers, then settlers, ventured into the basin in increasing numbers. The river served first as barrier – forming borders for New Spain, New France, and the early United States – then as vital transportation artery
The Platte River ( /plæt/) (Pawnee: Kíckatusʾ) is a major river in the state of Nebraska and is about 310 mi (500 km) long. Measured to its farthest source via its tributary the North Platte River, it flows for over 1,050 miles (1,690 km). The Platte River is a tributary of the Missouri River, which in turn is a tributary of the Mississippi River which flows to the Gulf of Mexico. The Platte over most of its length is a muddy, broad, shallow, meandering stream with a swampy bottom and many islands—a braided stream. These characteristics made it too difficult for canoe travel, and it was never used as a major transportation route by European-American trappers or explorers.
The Platte is one of the most significant tributary systems in the watershed of the Missouri, draining a large portion of the central Great Plains in Nebraska and the eastern Rocky Mountains in Colorado and Wyoming. The river valley played an important role in the westward expansion of the United States, providing the route for several major emigrant trails, including the Oregon, California, Mormon and Bozeman trails. The first Europeans to see the Platte were French explorers and fur trappers about 1714; they
The John Day River is a tributary of the Columbia River, approximately 281 miles (452 km) long, in northeastern Oregon in the United States. Undammed along its entire length, the river is the third longest free-flowing river in the conterminous United States. There is extensive use of its waters for irrigation. Its free-flowing course furnishes habitat for diverse species, including wild steelhead runs. However, the steelhead populations are under federal endangered species protections, and chinook salmon have been proposed for Endangered Species Act (ESA) protection.
The river was named for John Day, a member of the Astor Expedition, an overland expedition to the mouth of the Columbia River that left from St. Louis, Missouri, in 1810. Day wandered lost through this part of Oregon in the winter of 1811–12.
Through its tributaries, the river drains much of the western side of the Blue Mountains, flowing across the sparsely populated arid part of the state east of the Cascade Range in a northwest zigzag, then entering the Columbia upstream from the Columbia River Gorge. It flows through exceptionally scenic canyons in its upper course, with several significant paleontological sites