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|South Platte River|
|Native name||Wašíŋ Wakpá (Lakota)|
|• location||Confluence of South Fork and Middle Fork|
|Confluence with North Platte River|
|2,762 ft (842 m)|
|Length||439 mi (707 km)|
|• average||174 cu ft/s (4.9 m3/s)|
|Discharge range||0 to 4,640 cu ft/s (0 to 131 m3/s)|
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.
The river is formed in Park County, Colorado, southwest of Denver in the South Park grassland basin by the confluence of the South Fork and Middle Fork, about 15 mi (24 km) southeast of Fairplay. Both forks rise along the eastern flank of the Mosquito Range, on the western side of South Park, which is drained by the tributaries at the headwaters of the river. From South Park, it passes through 50 mi (80 km) of the Platte Canyon and its lower section, Waterton Canyon. Here, it is joined by the North Fork before emerging from the foothills southwest of the Denver suburb of Littleton. At Littleton, the river is impounded to form Chatfield Reservoir, a flood-control basin for the Denver metropolitan area.
The river flows north through central Denver, which was founded along its banks at its confluence with Cherry Creek. The valley through Denver is highly industrialized, serving generally as the route for both the railroad lines, as well as Interstate 25. On the north side of Denver, it is joined somewhat inconspicuously by Clear Creek, which descends from the mountains to the west in a canyon that was the cradle of the Pike's Peak Gold Rush. North of Denver, it flows through the agricultural heartland of the Piedmont (a shale region that was formed through erosion by the ancestor of the river following the creation of the Rockies). It flows directly past the communities of Brighton and Fort Lupton, and is joined in succession by Saint Vrain Creek, the Little Thompson River, the Big Thompson River, and the Cache la Poudre River, which it receives just east of Greeley.
East of Greeley, it turns eastward, flowing across the Colorado Eastern Plains, past Fort Morgan and Brush, where it turns northeastward. It continues past Sterling, and runs into Nebraska between Julesburg, Colorado, and Big Springs, Nebraska. In Nebraska, it passes south of Ogallala and joins the North Platte River near the city of North Platte.
The South Platte River through Denver is on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's (US EPA) list of impaired waterbodies for pathogen impairment, with E. coli as the representative pathogen species. Other water issues involve the appearance of the New Zealand mud snail and zebra mussel.
The South Platte was originally called Niinéniiniicíihéhe by the native Arapaho people who lived on its banks. The early Spanish explorers called it the Rio Chato (calm river). In 1702, it was named the Rio Jesus Maria by Captain Jose Lopez, the Tewa Irish scout and captain of war of the New Mexico Indian Auxiliaries, who was ordered by the viceroy of New Spain to search the Tierra Incognita for a French incursion into New Mexico.The South Platte also served as a vital water source in Colorado. Long before the city of Denver was created, many travelers came to the South Platte River to escape the arid Great Plains. These people could survive the heat, but not without the vital water source that the South Platte gave them. Buckets and wells sufficed as a water system for a while, but eventually, the Denver Water System was created.
In an arid region of the United States, the South Platte is marked with several dams. The first notable water impoundment on the South Platte is Antero Reservoir. "Antero" is derived from the Spanish word for "first",as it was the first dam on the South Platte River near the river's origin.
The next dam is Spinney Mountain Reservoir. At capacity, Spinney Mountain covers 2,500 acres (10 km2). A bottom-release dam, Spinney releases to the east of the inlet.
Two miles below Spinney Mountain Reservoir, the river enters Eleven Mile Reservoir, with a capacity of 97,000 acre feet (120,000,000 m3). The Eleven Mile Reservoir Dam drains into Eleven Mile Canyon, which runs through Forest Service land. Under the reservoir are three former Colorado towns, Howbert, Idlewild, and Freshwater Station, which were submerged to meet the water needs of Denver.
From Eleven Mile Canyon, the South Platte runs northeast to Cheesman Reservoir, named for Denver water pioneer Walter S. Cheesman. At its completion in 1905, the dam was the world's tallest, at 221 ft (67 m) above the streambed. The reservoir and related facilities were purchased in November 1918 by the Denver Water Board. Cheesman was the first reservoir of Denver's mountain storage facilities,, and has been designated a National Historic Civil Engineering Landmark. Cheesman Reservoir feeds Cheesman Canyon. Six miles below Cheesman Reservoir is the town of Deckers; there, the river bends north for about 17 mi (27 km) to the confluence with the North Fork of the South Platte.
In the late 1980s, a proposal was put forth for the Two Forks Dam, which would have created a reservoir flooding the entire section from the North Fork confluence to the town of Deckers. In 1990, the US EPA vetoed the permit, calling the project an "environmental catastrophe."
From the confluence, the river flows towards Denver and enters Strontia Springs Reservoir.
Below Strontia Springs, the South Platte runs through Waterton Canyon before entering Chatfield Reservoir. Chatfield marks the seventh and final dam on the South Platte until it merges with the North Platte.
The South Platte River is a gold medal western trout river on the eastern slope of Colorado. The river is well known for its wild trophy population of brown and rainbow trout. As a result of its close proximity to Denver, the river has thousands of fly fishing enthusiasts visit each year. With seven dams on the river, the South Platte is considered a tailwater fishery. Most of these dams are bottom released, which allows for both stable water temperatures and year-round fly fishing. Popular fly-fishing stretches of the river include Waterton Canyon, Deckers, Cheesman Canyon and the Dream Stream.
The Platte River is a major river in the State of Nebraska. It is about 310 mi (500 km) long; measured to its farthest source via its tributary, the North Platte River, it flows for over 1,050 miles (1,690 km). The Platte River is a tributary of the Missouri River, which itself is a tributary of the Mississippi River which flows to the Gulf of Mexico. The Platte over most of its length is a broad, shallow, meandering stream with a sandy bottom and many islands—a braided stream.
The Little Colorado River is a tributary of the Colorado River in the U.S. state of Arizona, providing the principal drainage from the Painted Desert region. Together with its major tributary, the Puerco River, it drains an area of about 26,500 square miles (69,000 km2) in eastern Arizona and western New Mexico. Although it stretches almost 340 miles (550 km), only the headwaters and the lowermost reaches flow year-round. Between St. Johns and Cameron, most of the river is a wide, braided wash, only containing water after heavy snowmelt or flash flooding.
The Cache la Poudre River, also known as the Poudre River, is a river in the state of Colorado in the United States.
The North Platte River is a major tributary of the Platte River and is approximately 716 miles (1,152 km) long, counting its many curves. In a straight line, it travels about 550 miles (890 km), along its course through the U.S. states of Colorado, Wyoming, and Nebraska.
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 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.
The Salt River is a river in Gila and Maricopa counties in Arizona, United States, that is the largest tributary of the Gila River. The river is about 200 miles (320 km) long. Its drainage basin is about 13,700 square miles (35,000 km2) large. The longest of the Salt River's many tributaries is the 195-mile (314 km) Verde River. The Salt's headwaters tributaries, the Black River and East Fork, increase the river's total length to about 300 miles (480 km). The name Salt River comes from the fact that the river flows over large salt deposits shortly after the merging of the White and Black Rivers.
Cherry Creek is a tributary of the South Platte River, 48.0 miles (77.2 km) long, in Colorado in the United States.
The Boise River is a 102-mile-long (164 km) tributary of the Snake River in the Northwestern United States. It drains a rugged portion of the Sawtooth Range in southwestern Idaho northeast of Boise, as well as part of the western Snake River Plain. The watershed encompasses approximately 4,100 square miles (11,000 km2) of highly diverse habitats, including alpine canyons, forest, rangeland, agricultural lands, and urban areas.
The Platte Canyon is a deep, narrow, scenic gorge on the South Platte River in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado. The canyon is southwest of Denver on the border between Jefferson and Douglas counties. The canyon is at the entrance to the mountains, where the South Platte emerges through the Rampart Range through the hogbacks onto Eastern Plains. The lower narrow section is sometimes called Waterton Canyon.
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.
The Rio Chama, a major tributary river of the Rio Grande, is located in the U.S. states of Colorado and New Mexico. The river is about 130 miles (210 km) long altogether. From its source to El Vado Dam its length is about 50 miles (80 km), from El Vado Dam to Abiquiu Dam is about 51 miles (82 km), and from Abiquiu Dam to its confluence with the Rio Grande is about 34 miles (55 km).
Boulder Creek is a 31.4-mile-long (50.5 km) creek draining the Rocky Mountains to the west of Boulder, Colorado, as well as the city itself and surrounding plains.
The Jemez River is a tributary of the Rio Grande in eastern Sandoval County, New Mexico, United States.
Bayou Gulch is one of the tributaries of Cherry Creek, located mainly in the U.S. state of Colorado. It is part of the Colorado Eastern Plains. An archaeologically sensitive portion of the gulch was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2020.
The Sulphur Gulch is one of the tributaries of the Cherry Creek and is located in the U.S. states of Colorado. It is part of the Eastern Plains.
Montgomery Reservoir lies high in Colorado's Mosquito Range near Hoosier Pass a few miles north of Alma, Colorado. The reservoir sits at an altitude of 10,873 feet. It is owned by Colorado Springs Utilities and delivers water to Colorado Springs, Colorado for municipal use. Built in 1957, the reservoir stores water from the Middle Fork South Platte River and from a tunnel that brings water from the Blue River on the west side of the continental divide.
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