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The areas drained within Baja California and Sonora are very small and do not contribute measurable runoff. Most of the basin is arid, defined by the Sonoran and Mojave deserts and the expanse of the Colorado Plateau, although significant expanses of forest are found in the Rocky Mountains; the Kaibab, Aquariusand Markagunt plateaus in southern Utah and northern Arizona; the Mogollon Rim through central Arizona; and other smaller mountain ranges and sky islands.
Mean monthly high temperatures are Annual precipitation averages 6. Other significant population centers in the basin include Tucson, Arizona ; St. George, Utah ; and Grand Junction, Colorado. Colorado River basin states are among the fastest-growing in the U.
The Continental Divide of the Americas forms a large portion of the eastern boundary of the watershed, separating it from the basins of the Yellowstone River and the Platte River — both tributaries of the Missouri River — on the northeast, and from the headwaters of the Arkansas River on the east.
Both the Missouri and Arkansas rivers are part of the Mississippi River system. Further south, the Colorado River basin borders on the Rio Grande drainage, which along with the Mississippi flows to the Gulf of Mexicoas well as a series of endorheic closed drainage basins in southwestern New Mexico and extreme southeastern Arizona.
Southwest of there, the northern divide of the Colorado watershed skirts the edge of the Great Basinbordering on the closed drainage basins of the Great Salt Lake and the Sevier River in central Utah, and other closed basins in southern Utah and Nevada.
Crustal extension in the Basin and Range Province began about 20 million years ago and the modern Sierra Nevada began forming about 10 million years ago, eventually diverting the Colorado southwards towards the Gulf. Antecedence played a major part in shaping other peculiar geographic features in the watershed, including the Dolores River's bisection of Paradox Valley in Colorado and the Green River's cut through the Uinta Mountains in Utah.
The lake took about 50 years to evaporate after the Colorado resumed flowing to the Gulf. The present-day Salton Sea can be considered the most recent incarnation of Lake Cahuilla, though on a much smaller scale.
Failure of the lava dams caused by erosion, leaks and cavitation caused catastrophic floods, which may have been some of the largest ever to occur in North America, rivaling the late- Pleistocene Missoula Floods of the northwestern United States.
The first humans of the Colorado River basin were likely Paleo-Indians of the Clovis and Folsom cultures, who first arrived on the Colorado Plateau about 12, years ago.
Very little human activity occurred in the watershed until the rise of the Desert Archaic Culturewhich from 8, to 2, years ago constituted most of the region's human population.
These prehistoric inhabitants led a generally nomadic lifestyle, gathering plants and hunting small animals though some of the earliest peoples hunted larger mammals that became extinct in North America after the end of the Pleistocene epoch.
The Fremont were likely the first peoples of the Colorado River basin to domesticate crops and construct masonry dwellings; they also left behind a large amount of rock art and petroglyphsmany of which have survived to the present day.
Between and A. Both civilizations supported large populations at their height; the Chaco Canyon Puebloans numbered between 6, and 15,  and estimates for the Hohokam range between 30, andThe construction of irrigation canals may have led to a significant change in the morphology of many waterways in the Colorado River basin.
Prior to human contact, rivers such as the Gila, Salt and Chaco were shallow perennial streams with low, vegetated banks and large floodplains. In time, flash floods caused significant downcutting on irrigation canals, which in turn led to the entrenchment of the original streams into arroyosmaking agriculture difficult.View John Carr’s profile on LinkedIn, the world's largest professional community.
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