Green River (Utah)

Missing image
The Green River, a tributary of the Colorado, is shown highlighted on a map of the western United States

The Green River is a tributary of the Colorado River, 730 mi (1,175 km) long, in the western United States. It rises in Wyoming and flows through Utah for much of its course, draining much of the northeastern portion of the state while looping for 40 mi (64 km) into western Colorado. Much of its route is through some of the most spectacular canyons in the United States. It is the largest tributary of the Colorado.



It rises in western Wyoming, in northern Sublette County, on the western side of the continental divide in the Bridger-Teton National Forest in the Wind River Range. It flows south through western Wyoming, then southwest and is joined by the Big Sandy River in western Sweetwater County. It flows past the town of Green River and into the Flaming Gorge Reservoir, formed by the Flaming Gorge Dam in northeastern Utah.

South of the dam it flows eastward, looping around the eastern tip of the Uinta Mountains going from Utah into northwestern Colorado, then south into Dinosaur National Monument where it passes through the Canyon of the Lodore and is joined by the Yampa River. It turns westward back into Utah along the southern edge of the Uintas in Whirlpool Canyon. In Utah it meanders southwest across the Yampa Plateau and through the Uintah and Ouray Indian Reservation and the Ouray National Wildlife Refuge. Two miles south of Ouray, Utah, it is joined by Duchense River, and three miles downstream by the White River. Ten miles farther downstream it is joined by the Willow River.

South of the plateau, it is joined by the Nine Mile River, then enters the Roan Cliffs where it flows south through the back-to-back Desolation and Gray Canyons, with a combined length of 120 mi (192 km). In Gray Canyon, it is joined by the Price River. South of the canyon it passes the town of Green River, Utah and is joined by the San Rafael River in southern Emery County. In eastern Wayne County it meanders through Canyonlands National Park where it joins the Colorado.

The Flaming Gorge Dam in Utah is a significant regional source of water for irrigation and mining, as well as for hydroelectric power. Begun in the 1950s and finished in 1963, it was highly controversial and opposed by conservationists.


Archaeological evidence indicates that the in the tributary canyons and in sheltered areas river valley were home to the Fremont Culture, which flourished from the 7th century to the 13th century. The Fremont were a semi-nomadic people who lived in pithouses and are best known for the rock art on canyon walls and in sheltered overhangs.

In later centuries, the river basin was home to the Shoshone and Ute peoples, both nomadic hunters. The Shoshone inhabited the river valley the north of the Uintah Mountains, whereas the Utes lived to the south. The current reservation of the Utes is in the Uinta Basin. The Shoshone called the river the Seeds-kee-dee-Agie, meaning "Prairie Hen River."

In 1776, the Spanish friars Dominguez and Escalante crossed the river, naming it the Rio de San Buenaventura. The map-maker of the expedition, Don Diego Miera y Pacheco, erroneously indicated that the river drained the Great Salt Lake into the Pacific Ocean. Later Spanish and Mexican explorers adopted the Rio Verde, meaning "Green River" in Spanish. The origin of the name "Green" is obscure but perhaps is based on the color of the water. The Old Spanish Trail from New Mexico to California crossed the river just above the present-day town of Green River, Utah.

In the early 19th century, the upper river in Wyoming was part of the disputed Oregon Country. It was explored by trappers from the Hudson's Bay Company in 1819. In 1825, the American William Ashley and party of American explorers floated down the river from north of the Uintah Mountains to the mouth of the White River. The valley of the river became increasing used as a wintering ground for American trappers in the next decades, with trading posts established at the mouth of the White near near Whiterocks, Utah, and in Browns Park.

The region was explored was John C. Fremont on several of his expeditions in the 1840s. Fremont corrected the cartographic error of Miera, establishing firmly that the river did not drain the Great Salt Lake. In 1869, the river was surveyed and mapped by John Wesley Powell as part of the first of his two expeditions to the region. During his two voyages in 1869 and 1871, he and his men gave most of the current names of the canyons, geographic features, and rapids along the river.

In 1878 the first permanent settlement in the river valley was founded at Vernal by a party of Mormons led by Jeremiah Hatch. The settlement survived a diphtheria epidemic its first winter, as well as a panic caused by the Meeker Massacre in Colorado. The town is currently the largest in the Green River Valley.

Most of the land in the valley of the river today is owned and controlled by the federal government. Private holdings are largely limited to bottoms. Until the 1940s, the economy of valley was based largely on ranching. The discovery of petroleum at the Ashley Field after World War II has led to the exploitation of oil and natural gas in the region. Tourism has emerged as the dominant industry in the region in the last several decades.

See also

External link

Colorado River system
Dams and aqueducts (see US Bureau of Reclamation)
Shadow Mountain Dam | Granby Dam | Glen Canyon Dam | Hoover Dam | Davis Dam | Parker Dam | Palo Verde Diversion Dam | Imperial Dam | Laguna Dam | Morelos Dam | Colorado River Aqueduct | San Diego Aqueduct | Central Arizona Project Aqueduct | All-American Canal | Coachella Canal | Redwall Dam
Natural features
Colorado River | Rocky Mountains | Colorado River Basin | Grand Lake | Sonoran desert | Mojave desert | Imperial Valley | Colorado Plateau | Grand Canyon | Glen Canyon | Marble Canyon | Paria Canyon | Gulf of California/Sea of Cortez | Salton Sea
Dirty Devil River | Dolores River | Escalante River | Gila River | Green River | Gunnison River | Kanab River | Little Colorado River | Paria River | San Juan River | Virgin River
Major reservoirs
Fontenelle Reservoir | Flaming Gorge Reservoir | Taylor Park Reservoir | | Navajo Reservoir | Lake Powell | Lake Mead | Lake Havasu
Dependent states
Arizona | California | Colorado | Nevada | New Mexico | Utah (See: Colorado River Compact)
Designated areas
Glen Canyon National Recreation Area | Lake Mead National Recreation Area

de:Green River (Fluss) ja:グリーン川 (ユタ州)


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