11 Facts About Gila River


Gila River is a 649-mile -long tributary of the Colorado River flowing through New Mexico and Arizona in the United States.

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Gila River has its source in western New Mexico, in Sierra County on the western slopes of the Continental Divide in the Black Range.

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The Salt River, its main tributary, joins in the Phoenix metropolitan area, and further west the Gila receives its last two major tributaries, the Agua Fria and Hassayampa Rivers, from the north.

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The upper Gila River was inhabited by the Mogollon culture over most of the same time period, in settlements like those at Gila River Cliff Dwellings National Monument in the later period.

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The Gila River, shown as a healthy blue waterway, turned out to be little more than a dry rut.

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Only major dam on the Gila River is Coolidge Dam, 31 miles southeast of Globe, Arizona, which forms San Carlos Lake.

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The Painted Rock Dam crosses the Gila near Gila Bend, although the river is a transient one at that point.

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Many dams have been built on tributaries to the Gila River, including Theodore Roosevelt Dam, Horse Mesa Dam, and Mormon Flat Dam on the Salt River, New Waddell Dam on the Agua Fria River, and Bartlett Dam on the Verde River.

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Many major dams in the Gila River system were built and operated by the U S Bureau of Reclamation, which constructed most of the large dams throughout the Colorado River basin.

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Upper Gila River, including its entire length within New Mexico, is a free-flowing one.

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The Gila's Salt River tributary has even more difficult whitewater, ranging up to Class IV in places, and often has higher and more dependable flows than the Gila.

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