The Colorado River is the lowest point in Nevada at 479 feet above sea level. Flowing more than 1,000 miles from the Rocky Mountains to the Sea of Cortez, the Colorado River provides areas of California, Nevada, and Arizona with irrigation, public water, and hydroelectric power. In Laughlin, Nevada, the river also offers various leisure activities. Enjoy boating, water skiing, jet skiing, fishing, and freshwater swimming. Let’s find out more about the lowest point in Nevada.
Exploring the Colorado River, Nevada’s Lowest Point
The Colorado River flows over 1,400 miles from the upper Rocky Mountains of Colorado to Mexico, and into the Gulf of California. It is an essential water source for irrigation, drinking, and other uses for people living in the dry American Southwest.
Before the construction of large dams along its route, the river fed one of the world’s largest desert estuaries. The vast riparian, freshwater, brackish, and tidal wetlands of the Colorado River Delta extend across the northernmost tip of the Gulf of California. They once covered 1,930,000 acres and now provide extensive habitats for plants, birds, and marine life. Because most of the river had reached the delta at that stage, its freshwater, silt, and nutrients created and maintained numerous wetlands. These wetlands provided feeding and nesting grounds for birds and spawning grounds for marine life. The lush greenery of the Colorado River Delta was striking in contrast to the surrounding Sonoran Desert in the past.
Today, the river’s lower reaches, which form the border between Baja California and Sonora, have become dry. The cause of this dryness is that the Imperial Valley used the river as a source of irrigation. Until the mid-20th century, the Colorado River Delta produced rich estuarine wetlands, which, although now essentially dry, remain a vital ecological resource.
The Course of the Colorado River in Nevada
The Colorado River marks the border between Arizona and Nevada and continues to the California state line. It flows down into Lake Mohave, where the Davis Dam works with water flow from the Hoover Dam to maintain a coherent channel system. Lake Mohave offers excellent fishing for largemouth bass and rainbow trout. Nevada reaches south of Riviera, Arizona, where the Colorado River borders California and Arizona.
Things To Do at the Colorado River in Nevada
Hike Along the River
The Colorado River Heritage Greenway Trail is ideal for returning to nature and hiking through the desert. Explore this family-friendly 10.5-mile hiking trail that runs along the Colorado River and enjoy views of the Davis Dam. Along the way, you’ll hike and cycle to your heart’s content, encounter vast wildlife, and marvel at unique scenery.
Camp Along Nevada’s Lowest Point on the Colorado
Camping at Big Bend on the Colorado River is unforgettable. Completely escaping city life, put up a tent or stop your RV and begin this outdoor experience. Also, take advantage of the picnic area, boat ramp, and four miles of hiking trails during your stay through mesmerizing Nevada canyons.
Take a Jet Boat Tour of the River
If you visit Laughlin, Nevada, you must take a jet boat tour along the Colorado River to the famous Old London Bridge across Lake Havasu. This 58-mile fast-paced river ride winds through the Topock Gorge, offering volcanic cliffs, Native Indian petroglyphs, and a wide variety of river fowl and wildlife along the route.
Swimming at the Lowest Point in Nevada
The beautiful Lake Mohave is a must-see, with a beautiful shoreline, stunning coves, and beaches. Formed by Laughlin’s Davis Dam, this lake teems with wildlife. It is a scenic spot for swimming and outdoor adventures like kayaking, fishing, and boating.
Take a Walk
Enjoy the scenery and watch the boats go by as you take a stroll along the beautiful Colorado River Walk. If you would like to relax, breathe fresh air, and take a break from the busyness of the city, this walk is for you. In addition, nature lovers can observe different birds and flora growing along the riverbanks.
Travel through the Havasu National Wildlife Refuge and Needles Wilderness Area on a kayak tour from Topock Gorge Marina. These tours are perfect for basic kayaking, discovering pristine beaches, spotting various desert animals, and experiencing the great outdoors up close.
The Colorado River Is America’s Most Endangered River
The lowest point in Nevada, the Colorado River, is at risk. But what threatens this force of nature? In fact, there are several reasons why this river is under threat. Some causes include climate change, rising temperatures, drought, outdated management, and over-allocation of excessive water levels. Considering how much depends on the river, the authorities tend to exercise heavy control. However, the main problem is that the Colorado River needs more water to meet all demands.
The American Rivers Organization says the river’s management plan was based on an erroneous analysis that the river carried about 18 million acre-feet. In reality, the river flows only about 13 million acre-feet. A deficit of 5 million is enough to worry about as the tide is slowing at an alarming rate. Additionally, Colorado and many other parts of the world are experiencing hotter temperatures that cause even greater evaporation. Consequently, experts predict that river flow will decline by 10 to 30% by 2050 due to overdevelopment and climate change.
Fishing in the Colorado River
Species of gamefish that live in the river are striped bass, smallmouth bass, largemouth bass, channel catfish, rainbow trout and sunfish. From March to June, Largemouth bass increase from 12 to 20 inches, when fishing for these fish is at its peak. People fish for striped bass from April to October, when the fish averages 15 inches and sometimes over 35 inches. Standard fishing methods use lures and lures that mimic threadfin shad or trout. Rainbow trout fishing is popular from October to March as these fish range from 9 to 13 inches. The best bait for rainbow trout includes power baits, salmon eggs, or casting spinners.
Wildlife Along the Colorado River in Nevada at the Lowest Point
The Imperial National Wildlife Refuge is situated over 30 miles of the lower Colorado River in Arizona and California. This refuge includes the last non-channelized section before the Colorado River travels out of America and enters Mexico. This lower Colorado River is popular for water sports, hiking trails, fishing, campsites, and watching wildlife.
The river, associated reservoirs, and wetlands are a refuge that contrasts with the desert mountains alongside it. The area is a well-known breeding ground for migratory birds and a refuge for other desert wildlife. In the migration season, which takes place during spring and fall, the Imperial National Wildlife Refuge is teeming with waterfowl and neotropical migratory birds.
Native wildlife, like mule deer, Gambel quail, coyotes, and desert bighorn sheep, live in the reserve year-round. At low river flow, sandbars become visible, becoming a valuable space for use by waterfowl, marsh birds, and bald eagles.
Plants from sago pondweed to campanula provide a place for wildlife to rest, nest, feed, and thrive. Ducks, geese, and wetland birds live in the area of the Lower Colorado River during the winter. Wetland wildlife is the busiest during winter when migratory birds such as cinnamon teal and pintails live in the sanctuary. You can easily spot egrets and muskrats that live in the reserve all year round at the lowest point in Nevada on the Colorado River. Moreover, river marshes and backwaters are vital for the vulnerable Yuma Clapper Rail.
Where is The Colorado River Located on a Map?
One of the major rivers in the Southwest of the United States and northern Mexico is the Colorado River. The 1,450-mile river drains a vast, desert basin that extends through portions of seven U.S. states and two Mexican states.
Here is the Colorado River on a map:
The photo featured at the top of this post is © iStock.com/CrackerClips
Thank you for reading! Have some feedback for us? Contact the AZ Animals editorial team.
- USGS, Available here: https://pubs.usgs.gov/gip/Elevations-Distances/elvadist.html
- New World Encyclopedia, Available here: https://www.newworldencyclopedia.org/entry/Colorado_River
- Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority, Available here: https://www.visitlaughlin.com/discover/articles/post/must-do-outdoor-activities/
- Visit Denver, Available here: https://www.denver.org/tourism-pays/tourism-pays-for-colorado
- Nevada Department of Wildlife, Available here: https://www.ndow.org/waters/colorado-river
- U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, Available here: https://www.fws.gov/refuge/imperial/species