The US is a vast country with a diverse range of landscapes, geography, and ecosystems. Several big rivers cut across the area, whether via deep river valleys, slicing through hilly terrain, or running through muddy marshes.
The United States boasts some of the world’s largest rivers, and due to the country’s sheer size, it has a lot of exceptionally lengthy rivers. Here is a list of the 10 longest rivers in the United States, listed in order of length.
Please keep in mind that the precise distance of the rivers varies depending on the source, but the order of the list is correct.
America’s 10 Longest Rivers
1. Missouri River – 3,768 Km
The Missouri River is most recognized for being the United States’ longest river. It has a total length of 3,768 kilometers and is a tributary of the Mississippi River (also on this list).
This enormous river drains almost one-sixth of North America’s whole continent, and several smaller rivers and tributaries pour into it (some of which are also on this longest river list). The river’s headwaters originate in the Rocky Mountains of Montana, near the continental divide, at one of the highest spots on the continent.
The waters then travel through North Dakota, South Dakota, along the border of Iowa and Nebraska, and finally through Missouri to the river’s mouth at St. Charles. The importance of this river, which is the country’s longest and one of the biggest, cannot be overstated.
It has functioned as a method of transportation as well as a source of food for thousands of years, thanks to the fish and wildlife that live along the river’s banks. The river is also utilized for agriculture and as a supply of water for residents in all of the states that surround it.
2. Mississippi River – 3,544 Km
With a length of 3,544 kilometers, the Mississippi River is considered the second longest river in the United States. It comprises the world’s fourth-longest river system when coupled with Missouri. It passes through Mississippi, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa, Illinois, Missouri, Tennessee, and Louisiana.
The river’s mouth drains into the Gulf of Mexico, although Lake Itasca in Clearwater County, Minnesota, is the river’s primary source. The Mississippi is a massive river, stretching over 18 kilometers at its widest point.
The Mississippi has also been historically significant since it gave rise to both saw and grain mills, and it includes nearly one-quarter of all North American fish species.
3. Yukon River – 3,190 Km
This magnificent river is the third longest river in the United States, measuring 3,190 kilometers. This river originates in Canada, in the province of British Columbia, and flows westward into the Yukon Territories.
It then flows across the whole state of Alaska, allowing it to be classed as a US river. The Yukon River travels all the way to Alaska’s west coast, where it empties into the Bering Sea.
The Yukon was utilized as a method of transit by Native Americans and early immigrants throughout North America’s northern areas, and it was significant not just for hunting and travel, but also for the Klondike and Yukon Gold Rush.
4. Rio Grande River – 2,830 Km
The Rio Grande is the fourth longest river on our list. It is no wonder that the name means “huge river,” as it is one of the largest rivers in the United States. The river’s sources are in the Colorado Rockies’ San Juan range, and it flows through New Mexico to create the boundary between Texas and Mexico.
The river drains into the Gulf of Mexico at its mouth. Because the river passes through desert and drought-prone terrain, there are periods when it goes dry.
In fact, the river failed to reach the Gulf in 2001 and 2002 and dried up before it could travel the entire length of its route. Nonetheless, the river’s primary and the (usually) continuous route is around 2,830 kilometers long.
5. Colorado River – 2,330 Km
The Colorado River has a length of 2,330 kilometers. The river’s sources are in Rocky Mountain National Park, and it empties into the Gulf of California.
The Colorado River travels through several well-known basins and lakes, including Lake Powell, the Grand Canyon, Hoover Dam, and Lake Mead. It also serves as a state boundary in a few instances, traveling between Arizona and Nevada and then Arizona and California.
The Colorado River also serves as a key supply of water for large cities such as Los Angeles, San Diego, Las Vegas, Phoenix, and Tucson, the majority of which have aqueducts that carry water from the river system to the cities.
6. Arkansas River – 2,322 Km
The sixth river is the Arkansas River, which runs predominantly across Arkansas, as the name implies. This river likewise originates in the Colorado Rockies and runs eastward through Kansas, a portion of Oklahoma, and into Arkansas.
The river runs for a total of 2,322 kilometers. The Arkansas River’s mouth is really the Mississippi River, and it is considered a tributary of the Mississippi-Missouri Canal.
7. Columbia River – 2,000 Km
The Columbia River is without a doubt one of the longest rivers in the United States. However, its actual length (and hence position in the top ten list) has been debated. It is approximately 2,000 kilometers long.
The Columbia River is enormous in size. It is the second biggest river in North America and the western hemisphere’s largest river that flows to the Pacific Ocean. This volume is utilized to power half of all hydroelectricity generated in the United States through eleven separate dams.
8. Red River – 1,811 Km
The Red River is 1,811 kilometers long. Its mouth lies at the Atchafalaya River, and it flows through the states of Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, and Louisiana from there. For two reasons, the Red River is unlike any other.
To begin with, it received its red name from the presence of rust-colored sedimentary rock in the river, which generates silt and sand-like detritus.
Second, it contains lots of saline, which means it’s saltwater rather than freshwater. Salt deposits from what was most likely a previous ancient sea leak into the Red River’s tributaries raised the river’s total salinity.
9. Snake River – 1,674 Km
The Snake River is a tributary of the previously mentioned Columbia River and runs for 1,674 kilometers. It originates in Wyoming’s mountainous area, near Yellowstone National Park, and flows south through Idaho, along the Oregon-Idaho boundary, and finally into the Columbia River just south of Pasco, Washington.
The Snake River is frequently divided into three sections: the Upper, Middle, and Lower Snake River segments. The Upper Snake is mostly utilized for agriculture and electricity, while the Middle Snake is similarly channeled into hydroelectric generators.
Because of this, the river serves as a tremendously effective instrument for the neighboring states.
10. Ohio River – 1,575 Km
With 1,575 kilometers, the Ohio River completes the list. It begins in Pittsburgh, where the Allegheny and Monongahela Rivers converge, then runs through or borders five more states: Ohio, West Virginia, Indiana, Kentucky, and ultimately Illinois, where it meets the Mississippi.
There are at least 20 dams along the river, which assist to service the more than five million people that rely on it for drinking water.
Though the precise order and lengths of these rivers have been questioned (differences typically originate from where the official ‘start’ is located, or whether or not specific tributaries are included), one thing is obvious: the United States has a wealth of enormous, lengthy, and beautiful rivers.
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