On or near the Continental Divide rise headstreams or major tributaries of four great North American rivers, the Río Grande, the Colorado, the Mississippi, and the Missouri. The Río Grande rises in the San Juan Mountains and flows southward through the San Luis Valley into New Mexico. The Colorado rises on the western side of the Continental Divide near Longs Peak and flows in a southwesterly direction into Utah. Principal tributaries of the Colorado River that rise in Colorado are the Gunnison, Dolores, and San Juan rivers. East of the divide the chief rivers are the South Platte River, a tributary of the Missouri, and the Arkansas River, a tributary of the Mississippi. On the Arkansas River about 50 km (about 30 mi) southwest of Colorado Springs is the famous Royal Gorge, where the river makes its way eastward between red granite cliffs that tower 300 m (1,000 ft) above the water.
Although the rivers of Colorado are navigable only by small boats, they are important as a source of irrigation water for use in Colorado and adjoining states. However, the water level of the rivers fluctuates seasonally and from year to year. The level is generally low in winter and high in spring and summer, during the runoff of melted snow from the mountains.
Colorado has no large lakes of natural origin, but there are numerous small lakes in the mountains. The largest bodies of water in Colorado are the large reservoirs created by dams and used for irrigation and flood control. Among the largest are John Martin, Granby, Pueblo, and Blue Mesa reservoirs. "Colorado" © Emmanuel BUCHOT, Encarta, Wikipedia
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