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The 10 Longest Rivers of the United States

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What are the longest rivers in the United States? The answer to that is below. But before then, let’s quickly talk about the United States itself.

The United States is a flourishing country in Northern America, home to over 340 million people. The country is among the richest countries in the world, thanks to the booming economy of many of its states.

Also, its beautiful beaches and alluring national parks are just a few of its attractions to the populace. Let’s get back to the business of today. Just like our recent article on the longest water bridges in the United States, we have also compiled a list of the 10 longest rivers in the United States below.

List of Longest Rivers of the United States

# U.S. River Length (Miles)
1. Missouri River 2,341 miles
2. Mississippi River 2,340 miles
3. Yukon River 1,979 miles
4. Rio Grande 1,759 miles
5. Colorado River 1,450 miles
6. Arkansas River 1,443 miles
7. Columbia River 1,243 miles
8. Red River 1,125 miles
9. Snake River 1,040 miles
10. Ohio River 979 miles

Related: The 10 Smallest States in USA

1. Missouri River – 2,341 miles

With a total of 2,341 miles, the Missouri River holds the record of being the longest river in the US. Apart from being a mighty river, the Missouri River also plays an important role in America’s geography, history, and culture.

Missouri River journeys through several states, including Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Iowa, Kansas, and Missouri. It flows from the Rocky Mountains of Western Montana before merging with the Mississippi River in St. Louis, Missouri. The river has been beneficial in terms of energy production in hydropower and as a conduit for coal and oil movements. Today, the Missouri River continues to offer opportunities for recreational and agricultural activities.

2. Mississippi River – 2,340 miles

The Mississippi River, a key player among the top 10 longest rivers in the United States, is 2,340 miles long. It is the second longest river in the US, and it flows from Lake Itasca in Minnesota to the Gulf of Mexico.

Mississippi River is home to several engineering marvels, including the Old River Control Structure. It is also one of the world’s major river systems in terms of size, habitats, and biological productivity. This river is not just a regular river but a symbol of the strength and resilience of America, as it plays a crucial role in shaping the United States’ social, economic, and environmental landscape.

3. Yukon River – 1,979 miles

Yukon River is one of the top North American rivers. The river’s source is from British Columbia, flowing through the Yukon Territory and the central territory of Alaska. Yukon got its name from the Gwich’in word “yuk-un-ah,” which also refers to “the great river.”

The river measures about 1,979 miles, making it the longest river in Alaska and Yukon. Yukon is a great spot for recreational lovers, and it’s also a symbol of glamorous beauty.

4. Rio Grande – 1,759 miles

The Rio Grande is also one of the 10 longest rivers in the United States, by the Mainstream. Having a mile length of 1,759, it is found between the borders of Texas and Mexico, flowing from the state of Colorado. It begins from the Rocky Mountains and flows through the Gulf of Mexico in the south.

The name Rio Grande means “Big River”. This river is an important wildlife corner and is home to a diversity of plants and other vegetation.

5. Colorado River – 1,450 miles

This 1,450-mile-long river is the 5th longest river in the United States. The origin of the name Colorado can be traced back to its Spanish translation, which means “colored reddish.” This refers to the copious sedimentary deposits found in the region. The Colorado River (referred to as Río Colorado in Spanish) is a significant river that runs through northern Mexico, the southwestern United States, and the Rio Grande. It plays a crucial role by providing water supply for forty million people and supports eleven U.S. national parks known for their rugged canyons and turbulent whitewater rapids, among others. The Colorado River serves as an energy source, too.

Moreover, it’s because of this colossal natural wonder that we have the Grand Canyon today- one of North America’s greatest geological features, having come into existence earlier than most rivers on Earth, according to scientific studies.

6. Arkansas River – 1,443 miles

Ranked globally at number 45 and spanning a length of 1,443 miles, the Arkansas River stands as one of America’s longest rivers. Its shores boast an array of diverse aquatic life and fauna that never cease to amaze visitors. The Arkansas River, a noteworthy contributing stream, converges with the Mississippi River. Its primary watershed is situated in Colorado’s Arkansas River Valley, and it primarily flows southeastward across numerous American states like Kansas, Oklahoma, and Arkansas.

The river’s source is Lake County near the Rocky Mountains in Leadville, Colorado. For centuries, Americans have partaken in activities such as fishing or camping around its banks for pleasure and leisure.

7. Columbia River – 1,243 miles

The Columbia River, which is the largest river in North America that drains into the Pacific Ocean, originates from Canada’s Rocky Mountains located in British Columbia. As it enters the ocean, it flows towards the northwest and later curves southwards towards Washington State, USA. Further along its course, it alters direction on a western course, forming part of the Washington-Oregon boundary line.

The Columbia River, along with its tributaries, is acknowledged as one of the world’s primary sources of hydroelectric energy. It possesses a considerable thirty percent hydropower capacity among all states in America. The main stream that extends to 1,243 miles (2,000 km) is the Snake River. Several indigenous communities living within this area have considered it an important aspect of their culture and history. Due to its contribution towards providing food options and being a transportation mode, many tribes still rely on it today.

8. Red River – 1,125 miles

The Red River is also on the list of the longest rivers in the United States. The confluence of the North Fork and Prairie Dog Town Fork in Harmon County, Oklahoma, is the source of the Red River. Its reddish watercolor was a result of its passage through the red-bed country within its catchment. To differentiate it from the Red River of the North, which meanders through the Canadian province of Manitoba from Minnesota and North Dakota, it is called the Red River of the South.

The river basin formed by the Red River ranks second in size among the southern Great Plains. The Red River of the South sustains various ecosystems along its course and is an essential water source for irrigation. As it empties into the Mississippi River, commercial and recreational activities along the Red River increase in volume.

9. Snake River – 1,040 miles

At 1,040 miles long, it is the largest tributary of the Columbia River and the largest North American river that empties into the Pacific Ocean. The Snake River is named after the Snake Indians. The river flows through their country for the most part. The Indians were named “Snake” by their Plains neighbors.

The River’s drainage basin covers parts of six U.S. states: Idaho, Washington, Oregon, Utah, Nevada, and Wyoming. The Snake River is famous for its sport fishery. It has sturgeon, salmon, steelhead, rainbow trout, and walleye. Numerous recreational facilities are found along the Snake’s course, such as Hells Canyon National Recreation Area. See the best national parks in America.

10. Ohio River – 979 miles

The 10th longest river in the U.S. is the Ohio River. The name “Ohio” comes from the Seneca, meaning “Good River”. Situated at the intersection of Midwestern and Southern United States, the Ohio River courses a southwest direction from western Pennsylvania and empties into the Mississippi River’s southern tip of Illinois. Not only is it considered North America’s sixth oldest river, but it also traverses through six states. It also includes parts of 14 other neighboring states within its drainage basin.

During early US expansion westward, this mighty river served as one of the pioneering settlers’ primary transport routes. Its position between different climate zones leads to varied weather patterns along the Ohio River. Hot, humid summers intertwine with cold, snowy winters – perfect for visitors seeking varied experiences. Boaters, fishermen, and nature enthusiasts alike love recreational activities around this river. The scenic views rendered by diverse wildlife habitats comprising numerous fish species and migratory birds are other attractions.

Summary

The longest rivers in the United States are not just famous in the States but have a deep connection to the country’s history. They also serve several benefits, including fishing, transportation, and, among others, recreational activities.

Let us know your thoughts on this article in the comment session below. See you in the next.

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