The Colorado, lifeblood and sculptor of an arid West

In a new book, a longtime river-runner invites readers to sit down by the Colorado’s riverside and listen to its stories.

  • The 1,450-mile-long Colorado River is the southwestern United States' largest and most important river system. It begins in the Rocky and Wind River mountains of Colorado and Wyoming.

    Murat Eyuboglu
  • The Colorado River as it flows past Nankoweap in the Grand Canyon.

    Murat Eyuboglu
  • Fresh water rarely flows to the Gulf of California. These are tidal channels near the sea.

    Murat Eyuboglu
  • Archaic pictographs at the Great Gallery in Utah's Canyonlands National Park. These paintings, and many like them in the region, are probably at least 1,500 years old.

    Murat Eyuboglu

As the lifeblood and sculptor of vast expanses of the arid West, the Colorado River has defined the region’s human and natural history for millennia. In The Colorado, longtime river-runner, environmental educator and author Christa Sadler invites readers to sit down by the riverside and listen to its stories.

The large-format book, which accompanies an award-winning documentary of the same name, reads like a tour through a natural history museum. Beautiful photographs, instructive visual aids and engaging writing take readers from the geology of the river to the customs of Native cultures, European colonial histories and modern political debates. Along the way, it gives readers a better sense of the complex system that brings water to the people of the Southwest.

Accessible to the uninitiated and enlightening even for river devotees, the book has something to offer all who care about the Colorado River Basin.

Note: A previous caption misidentified the river in the second photo. It is the Colorado River in the Grand Canyon, not the Green River in the Uinta Mountains of northern Utah.

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