|Big Thompson River|
The headwaters of the Big Thompson River are in Rocky Mountain National Park.
|• elevation||11,310 ft (3,450 m)|
|Mouth||South Platte River|
|4,670 ft (1,420 m)|
|Length||78 mi (126 km)|
|• average||72.5 cu ft/s (2.05 m3/s)|
|• minimum||0.48 cu ft/s (0.014 m3/s)|
|• maximum||35,000 cu ft/s (990 m3/s)|
|• left||North Fork Big Thompson River|
|• right||Little Thompson River|
The Big Thompson River is a tributary of the South Platte River, approximately 78 miles (123 km) long, in the U.S. state of Colorado. It originates in Forest Canyon into Lake Estes, in Estes Park, CO. It includes four crossings/bridges which are listed on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places.
The headwaters of the Big Thompson River begin in Forest Canyon within Rocky Mountain National Park in Larimer County, Colorado. The river flows east through Moraine Park to the town of Estes Park. There it is held in Lake Estes by Olympus Dam before being released into the Big Thompson Canyon. The North Fork Big Thompson River also begins in Rocky Mountain National Park, on the northern slopes of the Mummy Range. This tributary flows east, through the town of Glen Haven, where it merges with the Big Thompson River in the town of Drake, in the Big Thompson Canyon.
From Lake Estes, the river descends 1/2 mile (800 m) in elevation through the mountains in the spectacular 25 mi (40 km) Big Thompson Canyon, emerging from the foothills west of Loveland. It flows eastward, south of Loveland across the plains into Weld County and joins the South Platte approximately 5 mi (8 km) south of Greeley. It receives the Little Thompson River approximately four mi (6 km) upstream from its mouth.
Water resources in the Big Thompson River are managed by the Northern Colorado Water Conservancy District as part of the Colorado-Big Thompson Project.
On July 31, 1976, during the celebration of Colorado's centennial, the Big Thompson Canyon was the site of a devastating flash flood that swept down the steep and narrow canyon, claiming the lives of 143 people, 5 of whom were never found. This flood was triggered by a nearly stationary thunderstorm near the upper section of the canyon that dumped 300 millimeters (12 inches) of rain in less than 4 hours (more than 3/4 of the average annual rainfall for the area). Little rain fell over the lower section of the canyon, where many of the victims were.
Around 9 p.m., a wall of water more than 6 meters (20 ft) high raced down the canyon at about 6 m/s (14 mph), destroying 400 cars, 418 houses and 52 businesses and washing out most of U.S. Route 34. This flood was more than 4 times as strong as any in the 112-year record available in 1976, with a discharge of 1,000 cubic meters per second (35,000 ft³/s).
In 2008, a man who was thought to have died in the flood was found to be alive and living in Oklahoma. Daryle Johnson and his family had rented a cabin east of Estes Park, but left without telling anyone on the morning of July 31. A woman who was researching the flood's victims discovered he was still alive.
The canyon was just one of the many areas along the Front Range that were devastated in the September 2013 flood. While not as intense as the 1976 flood, the storms that caused the flooding in 2013 still sent enough water down the canyon to wash out the highway in many places. The flood also damaged the US Bureau of Reclamation's Dille Diversion Dam. The biggest infrastructure casualty, however, was the City of Loveland's hydroelectric plant (rebuilt after the 1976 flood); the Idylwilde Reservoir was completely filled with silt and rocks, the Idylwilde Dam broke free of the bedrock, and the hydroelectric plant in the Viestenz-Smith Mountain Park was filled with water and silt. The dam was in the process of being relicensed with the FERC, but it was instead demolished, the dam material and contents of the reservoir being used as fill for highway repairs. The park has since been redone to accommodate the post-flood river channel and to harden it against potential future floods. The city also rebuilt its municipal electric distribution line into the canyon to replace the original 1925 transmission line and remove obsolete distribution equipment.
The South Platte River is one of the two principal tributaries of the Platte River. Flowing through the U.S. states of Colorado and Nebraska, it is itself a major river of the American Midwest and the American Southwest/Mountain West. Its drainage basin includes much of the eastern flank of the Rocky Mountains in Colorado, much of the populated region known as the Colorado Front Range and Eastern Plains, and a portion of southeastern Wyoming in the vicinity of the city of Cheyenne. It joins the North Platte River in western Nebraska to form the Platte, which then flows across Nebraska to the Missouri. The river serves as the principal source of water for eastern Colorado. In its valley along the foothills in Colorado, it has permitted agriculture in an area of the Colorado Piedmont and Great Plains that is otherwise arid.
Larimer County is a county located in the U.S. state of Colorado. As of the 2010 census, the population was 299,630. The county seat and most populous city is Fort Collins. The county was named for William Larimer, Jr., the founder of Denver.
Estes Park is a statutory town in Larimer County, Colorado, United States. A popular summer resort and the location of the headquarters for Rocky Mountain National Park, Estes Park lies along the Big Thompson River. Estes Park had a population of 5,858 at the 2010 census. Landmarks include The Stanley Hotel and The Baldpate Inn. The town overlooks Lake Estes and Olympus Dam.
The City of Loveland is the Home Rule Municipality that is the second most populous municipality in Larimer County, Colorado, United States. Loveland is situated 46 miles (74 km) north of the Colorado State Capitol in Denver and is the 14th most populous city in Colorado. As of the 2010 census the population of Loveland was 66,859, and in 2019 the population was estimated at 78,877. The city forms part of the Fort Collins-Loveland Metropolitan Statistical Area and the Front Range Urban Corridor. The city's public schools are part of the Thompson R2-J School District.
The Yampa River flows 250 miles (400 km) through northwestern Colorado in the United States. Rising in the Rocky Mountains, it is a tributary of the Green River and a major part of the Colorado River system. The Yampa is one of the few free-flowing rivers in the western United States, with only a few small dams and diversions.
The Blue River is a tributary of the Colorado River, approximately 65 miles (105 km) long, in the U.S. state of Colorado.
Grand Lake is Colorado's largest and deepest natural lake. It is located in the headwaters of the Colorado River in Grand County, Colorado. On its north shore is located the historic and eponymous town of Grand Lake. The lake was formed during the Pinedale glaciation, which occurred from 30000 BP to 10000 BP. The glacial terminal moraine created a natural dam. Natural tributaries to the lake are the North Inlet and East Inlet, both of which flow out of Rocky Mountain National Park, which surrounds the lake on three sides. Grand Lake is located 1 mile from the Park's western entrance. Grand Lake was named Spirit Lake by the Ute Tribe because they believed the lake's cold waters to be the dwelling place of departed souls.
Lawn Lake Dam was an earthen dam in Rocky Mountain National Park, United States that failed on July 15, 1982, at about 6 a.m., in an event known as the flood of 1982. The sudden release of 30 million cubic feet of water resulted in a flash flood that killed three people camping in the park and caused $31 million in damage to the town of Estes Park, Colorado and other downstream areas.
Horsetooth Reservoir is a large reservoir in southern Larimer County, Colorado, just west of the city of Fort Collins, Colorado. The reservoir sits in the foothills above the town on the western side of the Dakota Hogback, which contains the reservoir along its eastern side. The reservoir runs north-south for approximately 6.5 miles (10 km) and is approximately one-half mile (1 km) wide. It was constructed in 1949 by the Bureau of Reclamation as part of its federal Colorado-Big Thompson Project or "C-BT". Water distribution is currently managed by Reclamation and operated by the Northern Colorado Water Conservancy District. Horsetooth and Carter Lake serve as the two principal reservoirs for water diverted eastward under the continental divide via the C-BT.
The Colorado-Big Thompson Project is a federal water diversion project in Colorado designed to collect West Slope mountain water from the headwaters of the Colorado River and divert it to Colorado's Front Range and plains. In Colorado, approximately 80% of the state's precipitation falls on the West Slope, in the Rocky Mountains, while around 80% of the state's growing population lives along the East Slope, between the cities of Fort Collins and Pueblo.
Drake is an unincorporated community in Larimer County, Colorado located in the Big Thompson Canyon between Estes Park, Colorado and Loveland, Colorado near Rocky Mountain National Park. A U.S. Post Office is also situated in the county ZIP Code 80515. The 2010 population of Drake was 1,010.
The Little Thompson River is a tributary of the Big Thompson River and thence the South Platte River in the U.S. state of Colorado.
The North Fork Feather River is a watercourse of the northern Sierra Nevada in the U.S. state of California. It flows generally southwards from its headwaters near Lassen Peak to Lake Oroville, a reservoir formed by Oroville Dam in the foothills of the Sierra, where it runs into the Feather River. The river drains about 2,100 square miles (5,400 km2) of the western slope of the Sierras. By discharge, it is the largest tributary of the Feather.
The Colorado River Storage Project is a United States Bureau of Reclamation project designed to oversee the development of the upper Colorado River basin. The project provides hydroelectric power, flood control and water storage for participating states along the upper portion of the Colorado River and its major tributaries.
The Grand Ditch, also known as the Grand River Ditch and originally known as the North Grand River Ditch, is a water diversion project in the Never Summer Mountains, in northern Colorado. It is 14.3 miles (23.0 km) long, 20 feet (6.1 m) wide, and 3 feet (0.91 m) deep on average. Streams and creeks that flow from the highest peaks of the Never Summer Mountains are diverted into the ditch, which flows over the Continental Divide at La Poudre Pass at 10,175 feet (3,101 m), delivering the water into Long Draw Reservoir and the Cache La Poudre River for eastern plains farmers. The water would otherwise have gone into the Colorado River that flows west towards the Pacific; instead, the Cache La Poudre River goes East and through the Mississippi River discharges into the Gulf of Mexico.
Bridge Canyon Dam, also called Hualapai Dam, was a proposed dam in the lower Grand Canyon of the Colorado River, in northern Arizona in the United States. It would have been located near Bridge Canyon Rapids in an extremely rugged and isolated portion of the canyon, 235 miles (378 km) downstream of Lees Ferry and at the uppermost end of Lake Mead.
The Fall River is a 17.1-mile-long (27.5 km) tributary of the Big Thompson River in Larimer County, Colorado. The river's source is near the Alpine Visitor Center in Rocky Mountain National Park. It flows down a canyon and over Chasm Falls before a confluence with the Big Thompson in Estes Park.
The Colorado River is a major river of the western United States and northwest Mexico in North America. Its headwaters are in the Rocky Mountains where La Poudre Pass Lake is its source. Located in north central Colorado it flows southwest through the Colorado Plateau country of western Colorado, southeastern Utah and northwestern Arizona where it flows through the Grand Canyon. It turns south near Las Vegas, Nevada, forming the Arizona–Nevada border in Lake Mead and the Arizona–California border a few miles below Davis Dam between Laughlin, Nevada and Needles, California before entering Mexico in the Colorado Desert. Most of its waters are diverted into the Imperial Valley of Southern California. In Mexico its course forms the boundary between Sonora and Baja California before entering the Gulf of California. This article describes most of the major features along the river.
The 2013 Colorado floods were a series of natural disasters occurring in the U.S. state of Colorado. Starting on September 11, 2013, a slow-moving cold front stalled over Colorado, clashing with warm humid monsoonal air from the south. This resulted in heavy rain and catastrophic flooding along Colorado's Front Range from Colorado Springs north to Fort Collins. The situation intensified on September 11 and 12. Boulder County was worst hit, with 9.08 inches (231 mm) recorded September 12 and up to 17 inches (430 mm) of rain recorded by September 15, which is comparable to Boulder County's average annual precipitation. This event has also been referred to as the 2013 Colorado Front Range Flood, reflecting a more precise geographic extent in and along the Colorado Front Range mountains.
The Marble Canyon Dam, also known as the Redwall Dam, was a proposed dam on the Colorado River in Arizona. The dam was intended to impound a relatively small reservoir in the central portion of Marble Canyon to develop hydroelectric power. Plans centered on two sites between miles 30 and 40 in the canyon. At one point a 38-mile (61 km) tunnel was proposed to a site just outside Grand Canyon National Park to develop the site's full power generation potential, reducing the Colorado River to a trickle through the park.
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