Year of 2017

Rio Grande, New Mexico

Exactly 49 years ago today, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed into law the national Wild and Scenic Rivers Act, which was formed to help preserve natural scenes like this one on the Rio Grande as it winds through New Mexico. The Rio Grande is just one of more than 200 US rivers now preserved as part of the program, which is gearing up for its 50th anniversary in 2018. From its headwaters in the San Juan Mountains of southern Colorado, the Rio Grande flows through New Mexico and Texas, then shares a border with Mexico before emptying into the Gulf of Mexico. Across the border, it’s known as Rio Bravo, with bravo meaning ‘agitated’ or ‘furious.’ That may be an apt description along some parts of the river’s course, but it’s certainly ‘wild and scenic’ on this stretch.

The Rio Grande is one of the principal rivers in the southwest United States and northern Mexico. The Rio Grande begins in south-central Colorado in the United States and flows to the Gulf of Mexico. Along the way, it forms part of the Mexico–United States border. According to the International Boundary and Water Commission, its total length was 1,896 miles in the late 1980s, though course shifts occasionally result in length changes. Depending on how it is measured, the Rio Grande is either the fourth- or fifth-longest river system in North America.
Basin area: 182,202 sq miles (471,900 km²)
Length: 1,896 miles (3,051 km)
Discharge: 2,403 ft³/s (68.05 m³/s)
Mouth: Gulf of Mexico
Locations: Mexico · United States
Sources: Continental Divide of the Americas · Colorado · San Juan Mountains · Rio Grande National Forest · Canby Mountain
Rio Grande river map
Map showing the Rio Grande, and its tributaries — within the Rio Grande drainage basin Located in northeastern Mexico and the southwestern / south-central United States.