The Colorado River has a 2 billion-year-old history. It provided water for Native Americans for 12,000 years. Today, granaries built by ancient Pueblo Indians are still visible, tucked underneath the cliffs that are present in Grand Canyon National Park.
The river winds through seven states including Arizona, California, Colorado, New Mexico, Nevada, Utah and Wyoming. The Colorado River is among the most important sources of water in both the western United States and Mexico.
Of the water flowing through the river over 78 percent is used for agriculture. The river is responsible for irrigating over 5 million acres of land that provide the nation with 15 percent of its overall crops.
There are also hydropower facilities along the river. These give off over 4,200 megawatts of electricity.
There are 40 different species of fish in the Colorado River. 30 species are endemic and four are endangered. The Colorado pikeminnow is a minnow only found in this river. It was listed as endangered in 1967 and is now protected.
Early settlers in the area along with miners valued the pikeminnow as food. The wild population of this fish are only seen in the Glen Canyon Dam, Arizona area. These amazing minnows can grow to be six feet long and can live for up to 40 years.
The bonytail is another minnow commonly found throughout the Colorado River Basin. It became endangered and, under the Endangered Species Act, protected in 1980. The bonytail is the rarest of the four endangered fish species. Wild populations of it no longer exist. These fish can live to be 50 years old.
The river also is home to seven national wildlife refuges, four national recreation areas and 11 national parks. These recreation areas and parks include including Grand Canyon National Park, Lake Mead National Recreation Area and Dinosaur Park.