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Top 5 American Rivers To Visit

Updated on June 25, 2012
The Niagara River and Niagara Falls
The Niagara River and Niagara Falls

There are hundreds of rivers and their tributaries across the United States. From the longest river in the USA Missouri River (2,500 miles) to the fastest Piscataqua River to the widest Mississippi River – the country is sliced by wide water streams and charming creeks. Thousand of resorts, hotels, camping spots and recreational areas are built around most dazzling ones to give visitors a pleasure to view the beauty of the water and surroundings. And if you like river scenery, add at least one from these river sites to your must visit list.

Niagara Falls, USA/Canada

Niagara River

The Niagara River serves as part of the border between the Province of Ontario in Canada and New York State in the United States. The river, which is occasionally described as a strait, is only 35 miles long, but it includes Niagara Falls along its course, which makes the river quite famous. One of biggest natural attractions of North America, Niagara Falls is not exceptionally high, but very wide. More than six million cubic feet of water falls over the crest line every minute in high flow – it is the most powerful waterfall in North America. Niagara Falls is composed of two major sections separated by Goat Island: Horseshoe Falls, on the Canadian side of the border and American Falls on the American side. Both sides are well organized for visitors and provide nice accommodations near Niagara Falls, dining, guided Niagara Falls tours and great views of the falls accessible by foot. Panoramic and aerial views of the falls can also be viewed from the helium balloon ride, or by helicopter. On the Canadian side, Queen Victoria Park features manicured gardens, platforms offering spectacular views of both the American and Horseshoe Falls. The observation deck of the nearby Skylon Tower offers the highest overhead view of the Falls, and in the opposite direction gives views as far as distant Toronto.

The Colorado River in Marble Canyon at the Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona
The Colorado River in Marble Canyon at the Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona
The Delicate Arch at The Arches National Park, Utah
The Delicate Arch at The Arches National Park, Utah

Colorado River

Beginning in the Rocky Mountains of northern Colorado, it moves southwest, ending in the Gulf of California. It is 1,450 miles in length and over the centuries formed numerous canyons along its winding path. The Colorado River covers a lot of ground on its way to the sea. There are many great areas to visit to get a view of the river and the landscape that it has created. Add human interaction to control the river through a series of dams, and you have some spectacular recreational areas and resources never before known in the desert. The Arches National Park near Moab, Utah is a great starting point to explore the Colorado River. The Arches National Park is famous for its 2,000 natural sandstone arches, including the well-known Delicate Arch. The Colorado River partially forms the southern border of the park, and then goes through Canyonlands National Park, which is a colorful landscape eroded into countless canyons, mesas and buttes. Going further, the Colorado River formed a lot of picturesque canyons with the Grand Canyon in northern Arizona, the most famous one. It took over six million years to the river to create this natural jewel of North America. Hoover Dam, another attraction on the river, forms Lake Mead, a popular recreation site as well as the supplier of most of the water for the city of Las Vegas. The Colorado River, its canyons, tributaries and lakes is great site for any kind of activities from relaxation to scenic water tours to adventurous whitewater rafting.

The Columbia River fishing
The Columbia River fishing
Multnomah Falls, The Columbia River Gorge, Oregon
Multnomah Falls, The Columbia River Gorge, Oregon

Columbia River

This wide, fast-flowing Columbia river begins in the Canadian Rockies of southeast British Columbia, Canada, flowing south through the State of Washington, then forming the natural border between states Washington and Oregon. It is 1,152 miles in length and ends in the Pacific Ocean. The Columbia River and its tributaries are home to numerous fish, which migrate between fresh water streams and the Pacific Ocean. It makes it a great place for fishing, particularly for Sturgeon, Salmon, Steelhead and Walleye fishing. The Columbia River holds the largest population of white Sturgeon in North America. These fish have been a vital part of the river’s ecology and the local economy for thousand years. Between cities The Dalles and Portland, Oregon, the Columbia River cuts though the Cascade Mountains, forming the dramatic Columbia River Gorge, well-known for its scenic beauty and the greatest concentration of waterfalls in the Pacific Northwest. There are over 77 stunning waterfalls in the area with Multnomah Falls, the most notable one. Located about 20 miles east from Portland, Multnomah Falls is second tallest year-round waterfall in the United States and probably the most beautiful. The area is great to explore by car taking the Historic Columbia River Highway ("King of Roads"). Opened in 1916, it is still one the world's most glorious drives.

Paddle Wheel Boat, New Orleans, Louisiana
Paddle Wheel Boat, New Orleans, Louisiana

Mississippi River

Flowing from northwestern Minnesota south to the Gulf of Mexico, just below the city of New Orleans, The Mississippi River is 2,339 miles in length. It is the widest river in the USA and when combined with its major tributaries the Missouri and Ohio rivers it creates the third largest river system in the world. The Mississippi River is a popular setting in many famous novels and tales. Many stories of Mark Twain, including his famous Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, take place on the Mississippi River. His Life on the Mississippi is totally devoted to the river. The second chapter of Don Rosa's famous comic book The Life and Times of Scrooge McDuck is named "The Master of the Mississippi", it is set on the Mississippi River. The Mississippi River is an inspiration for many songs and music. The Johnny Cash song "Big River" is about the Mississippi River. Famous "Moon River" from the 1961 film Breakfast at Tiffany's refers to the Mississippi River. The river goes through many cities and interesting sites in Minnesota, Missouri, Tennessee, Arkansas and Louisiana, with probably New Orleans the most popular one. New Orleans, famous for its Mardi Gras and French Quarter, Bourbon and Magazine Streets, charming hotels and great food, is also a great spot to take one of many river cruses and experience the Mississippi River on a boat.

The George Washington Bridge, New York City
The George Washington Bridge, New York City
The Hudson River from the Bear Mountain bridge, New York
The Hudson River from the Bear Mountain bridge, New York

Hudson River

The Hudson River flows north to south through eastern New York State and forms the border between Manhattan and New Jersey. It’s named after Henry Hudson, an English navigator, who explored the river in 1609. It is only 315 miles long, but its belonging to New York City, makes the river probably one of the most famous in the world. The Hudson is crossed at numerous points by bridges, tunnels, and ferries. The impressive George Washington Bridge, the charming Bear Mountain Bridge, the historic the Tappan Zee Bridge are among most famous ones. Hudson’s picturesque creeks and brooks are popular places for recreation activities. The promenade along the Hudson River between the river and West Side Highway in Manhattan is a great viewpoint of the river. Numerous of piers along provide great entertainment and dining options with the Hudson River view. On January 15, 2009, US Airways Flight 1549 made an emergency crash-landing into the Hudson River. It stayed afloat with passengers on the wings in the middle of the river till all 150 passengers and 5 crew members were safely rescued. This incredible event got the name “Miracle on the Hudson”.

Please share with us your river stories and add to the list your favorite river spots in the USA.


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    • townstate profile image


      7 years ago from Salmon Idaho

      Love this. We are on the Salmon River in Idaho. Not nearly as big, but definitely more wild. The Salmon River has an awesome canyon, but few see it because it is surrounded by a huge wilderness area and the only way to see it is by whitewater rafting down through.

    • ellahall2011 profile image


      7 years ago


    • applejuic3 profile image


      8 years ago from San Diego, CA

      I've heard of them all, but haven't been to any. This makes me want to take a road trip and see all five right away. Hopefully I can experience kayaking or river rafting down one of the rivers soon. Thanks for this very informational and inspirational hub!

    • profile image

      Vacation Rentals at Lake Ozark 

      9 years ago

      Beautiful pictures and great article.

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      Thanks! Fascinating article! This great article will help my daughter in her state report. :)

    • thrillophilia profile image


      9 years ago from Bangalore

      informative hub, thanks for sharing this hub.

    • maudine_05 profile image


      9 years ago from United States

      very fascinating..great research!!!

    • beccas90 profile image


      9 years ago from New York

      Loved your selection and photos - being from New York nice to see the Hudson in there but I also have an affection for the Connecticut River as well.

    • Scoudini profile image

      Brenda K. Bredahl 

      9 years ago from MN-WI border, USA

      Thanks; great article.

    • euro-pen profile image


      9 years ago from Europe

      Very interesting and good selection of rivers. I love those paddle wheel boats. I guess it would be a nice experience cruising on these ships.

    • James A Watkins profile image

      James A Watkins 

      9 years ago from Chicago

      This is an excellent article about these great rivers. I have not seen the Colorado or Columbia yet. All of your photos are outstanding. The information is insightful and well presented. Truly a pleasure.

    • Camping Dan profile image

      Camping Dan 

      10 years ago

      I can do without the Mississippi and the Hudson any day. Give me the Colorado, the Columbia, the Buffalo, the Green and the more wild less polluted rivers.

    • C.S.Alexis profile image


      10 years ago from NW Indiana

      I LOVE Rivers and I guess you sold me on visiting the Columbia someday. That will make me 5 for 5 of the ones you mentioned in this hub. I think the Colorado was my favorite. This is a good hub and interesting info too.

    • free mmorpg profile image

      free mmorpg 

      10 years ago

      nice info! very goog article thanks!


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