The 10 Longest Rivers of Utah

The Colorado River runs through Arches National Park near Moab, Utah.
The Colorado River runs through Arches National Park near Moab, Utah.

The US state of Utah is synonymous with the desert, but has a surprisingly large number of rivers. These rivers play a significant role within the state as they flow through documented scenic landscapes that aid tourism and promote agriculture. A list of the ten longest rivers in Utah is provided below.

1. Colorado River - 2,330 km

The Colorado River is the longest and most important river in Utah. With a length of 2,330 km, it passes through seven states before draining into the Gulf of California. It plays a crucial role in the agricultural irrigation of Utah, Arizona and California’s Imperial Valley. Moreover, it passes through the Grand Canyon, validating scenic beauty and providing outdoor recreation.

2. Green River - 1,170 km

The Green River is the second largest and most powerful river in Utah, with a maximum width and depth of 1500 ft and 50 ft, respectively. It is the chief tributary of the Colorado River, and flows through Utah, Colorado, and Wyoming to form the Green River Basin.

3. Bear River - 790 km

The Bear River is the longest river in the United States that does not reach a sea. It forms the largest tributary of the Great Salt Lake, and drains into the mountainous region and farming valleys northeast of the lake and southeast of the Snake River Plain. The river forms a U-shape around the upper end of the Wasatch Range, creating a hunting ground for mountain people.

4. San Juan River - 616 km

The San Juan River is the largest and best fishing river in the state of Utah, with as many as 1,500 fish per mile. It is among the major tributaries of the Colorado River, stretching from the southern parts of the state through the Four Corners, before draining to New Mexico.

5. Sevier River - 616 km

The Sevier River is the longest river contained entirely in Utah. It flows on a horse-shoe shaped course through north Kane County to the Sevier Lake in Millard County. However, intensive agriculture on the Upper Sevier has resulted in a shrinking of the lake. The banks of River Sevier offer a serene environment for settlement marked by several towns and hamlets along its banks.

6. Dolores River - 400 km

River Dolores flows through the majestic and unexplored desert before draining into the Colorado River. It passes through most of the best natural sceneries of the Colorado Plateau, which are packed with pine trees and ancient ruins of the San Juan Mountain. The river was named by Spanish explorers in 1795 as the River of Our Lady of Sorrows.

7. Blacks Fork - 282 km

Commonly referred to as the Black Fork of the Green River, the Blacks Fork River originates in the Uinta Mountain as a combination of three streams and drains into the Green Rover at the Flamingo Gorge Reservoir in Wyoming. The river was named after Arthur Black, an employee of the Ashley Henry Company, who was trapped in the area in 1824.

8. Virgin River - 261 km

The Virgin River forms one of the major tributaries of the Colorado River flowing through Utah, Nevada, and Arizona. In 2009, it was designated as Utah’s first wild and scenic river during the centenary festival of Zion National Park. Its lower valley plays a crucial role in the irrigation of cotton, figs, and pomegranates fields.

9. White River - 260 km

The White River rises as two forks (north and south forks) in the White River National Forest, before joining to form the White River near Buford, Colorado. The river is normally used for navigation, as its water level and strength supports small boats throughout the year.

10. Price River - 220 km

Originating in the western side of Carbon County, the Price River flows through two cities, Helper and Price, before joining its confluence, the Green River, in the Gray Canyon. River Price was discovered and named after Lord William Price, who explored the area in 1869. Although considered generally unnavigable throughout much of the year, it is a remarkable destination for kayakers and canoeists during the spring.

The 10 Longest Rivers of Utah

1Colorado River2,330 km
2Green River1,170 km
3Bear River790 km
4San Juan River616 km
5Sevier River616 km
6Dolores River400 km
7Blacks Fork282 km
8Virgin River261 km
9White River260 km
10Price River220 km

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