As the principal river in the Southwestern United States, the 1,450 mile Colorado River is part of an extensive watershed that includes seven U.S. states and two Mexican states. Starting in a wet meadow on the western edge of Rocky Mountain National Park, the Colorado River flows southwest into Utah and into Arizona, where it has carved the Grand Canyon for the past 6 million years.
Winding south, the river forms the border between Arizona and California, before emptying into the Gulf of California– that is, in the years when the river actually reaches the sea.
Because of its importance as a water source for agriculture, urban populations, and hydroelectric power, the Colorado River is one of the controlled and allocated systems in the world. However, overuse has created extensive problems for wildlife and populations living in Mexico’s Colorado River Delta.
In the following National Geographic Live video, Emerging Explorer Osvel Hinojosa Huerta talks about his work to protect the wetlands surrounding this unique ecosystem through restoration and policy planning.