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Weekend Getaways

Uncover the ten Longest Rivers in California

California is a state on the western coast of the US of America. It’s the largest state within the U.S. by inhabitants and the third-largest state by bodily measurement. California stretches alongside the coast of the Pacific Ocean. The state has many drastically totally different landscapes and climates. Starting from sizzling and dry deserts, alpine tundra, moist and wet coastal forests, a volcanic plateau, excessive snowy mountains, and fertile farmland.

What sorts of rivers move via such a dynamic panorama? What do they appear to be? How large are they? Let’s take a look at the ten longest rivers in California!

Rivers in California

A river is principally a flowing supply of water that drains into an even bigger physique


California has 189,454 miles of river. A river is outlined as a transferring physique of water that flows into a bigger physique of water, like a lake, sea, or ocean. That definition is a bit obscure, however that’s as a result of rivers are available in so many sizes and shapes. Some rivers are extraordinarily massive, some extensive, some skinny. Some rivers move above floor, and a few rivers even move beneath floor! What all rivers appear to have in widespread is that they’re continuously transferring, offering water to every kind of ecosystems and wildlife as they go via. California is residence to many of those fairly spectacular rivers.

As we take a look at the most important rivers in California, we will likely be measuring their measurement primarily based on size, moderately than depth or discharge quantities. So, what are the ten largest and longest rivers within the state of California?

10. Kern River – 165 miles

Longest Rivers in California - Kern River
The Kern River is the native vary for California’s State Fish, the California golden trout.


The Kern River is 165 miles lengthy and passes via many stunning canyons and rock formations.  It’s a common place for whitewater rafting, kayaking, fishing, and wilderness climbing. 151 miles of the Kern River is designated as a “Wild and Scenic River.”

The Kern River’s watershed is the native vary of the California golden trout, which is California’s State Freshwater Fish. Actually, all three members of the “Golden Trout Complicated” are discovered within the Kern River: the California golden trout, the Little Kern golden trout, and the Kern River rainbow trout. The California golden beaver additionally lives in and across the Kern River.

9.      Salinas River – 175 miles

woodchuck vs beaver
The Salinas River is residence to the California golden beaver.

Chase Dekker/

The Salinas River originates within the Los Machos Hills of the Los Padres Nationwide Forest. It flows for 175 miles till it will definitely connects with Monterey Bay and the Pacific Ocean. Typically the Salinas River could be dry and shallow above floor since a lot of the water flows underground. The Salinas River is the first water supply for vineyards and farms within the valley. Actually, irrigation within the Salinas valley makes it some of the productive agricultural areas in California. This space is very identified for rising lettuce and artichokes.

Within the Nineteenth-century fur trappers lowered the beaver inhabitants within the space surrounding the Salinas River. Nevertheless, the California golden beaver bounced again and now has even expanded its residence vary. The Salinas River can also be a wildlife hall. Which means that it acts as a passage the place wildlife can transfer round human actions and buildings and join to at least one one other. 

8.      Owens River – 183 miles

Longest Lakes in California - Owens River
The headwaters of the Owens River is a well-liked location for anglers and fishermen.


The Owens River is 183 miles lengthy in jap California. It begins within the Sierra Nevada Mountains in southwestern Mono County and empties into Owens Lake. Owens River is likely one of the 4 desert rivers in California. Owens River was rerouted to supply water to Los Angeles through the California Water Wars within the early 1900s. Due to this, a lot of the Owens Valley and Owens Lake dried up.

7.      Amargosa River – 185 miles

Longest Rivers in California - Amargosa River
The Amargosa River drains into Dying Valley.


The Amargosa River is exclusive as a result of it flows above floor solely after cloudbursts and flash floods. More often than not the river flows underground, aside from just a few choose sections. One part the place the Amargosa River flows above floor is within the Amargosa Canyon. Right here the river passes via the Amargosa River Pure Space and supplies water for a lush space of vegetation and ample wildlife.

Your complete Amargosa River—above floor and beneath floor—is 185 miles lengthy. The identify of the Amargosa River comes from the Spanish phrase amargo which implies “bitter.” This was in all probability shortened from agua amargosa, that means “bitter water.”

6.      Eel River – 196 miles

Longest Rivers in California - Eel River
The Eel River’s ecology is regularly affected by human actions like road-building, logging, and the hashish business.

Anna Westman/

The Eel River begins on the southern flank of Bald Mountain in Mendocino Nationwide Forest. It then flows for 196 miles till it empties into the Pacific Ocean. There are not any eels within the Eel River, regardless of its identify. Actually, the Eel River is called after an eel-shaped parasitic fish, the Pacific lamprey. Not like true eels, Pacific lampreys are discovered within the Eel River.

There are 15 totally different fish species within the Eel River, together with the Sacramento sucker, Pacific staghorn sculpin, prickly sculpin, Coastrange sculpin, and threespine stickleback. The Eel River can also be residence to many aquatic mammals like beavers, minks, raccoons, muskrats, and river otters. Human growth and the development of dams harm a lot of the pure habitat right here. In 1981 the Eel River was declared a Wild and Scenic River, limiting the development of latest dams.

5.      Pit River -207 miles

Longest Rivers in California - Pit River
The Pit River will get its identify from the Pit River American Indian Tribe. The Pit River Tribe hunted for sport alongside the river utilizing pit traps.

Gibson Out of doors Picture/

The Pit River is the longest tributary of the Sacramento River, measuring 207 miles lengthy. It begins within the northeastern nook of California and finally joins the Sacramento River within the Central Valley. Its journey passes via each the Modoc Nationwide Forest and the Shasta Nationwide Forest. The Pit River is used for irrigation, hydroelectricity, and conservation functions. Additionally it is a preferred vacation spot for fishing, fly fishing, and rafting.

4.      Klamath River – 257 miles

Largest salmon - chinook salmon
The Klamath River is a crucial river for anadromous fish like Chinook salmon.

Kevin Cass/

The Klamath River is 257 miles lengthy, flowing via Oregon and northern California on its solution to the Pacific Ocean. It’s an important river south of the Columbia River for anadromous fish migration. Anadromous fish reside in salt water, however journey to freshwater to breed. Fish like Chinook salmon, rainbow trout, and steelhead trout, and coho salmon are sometimes discovered right here. Actually, the Klamath River is a first-rate habitat for coho salmon, that are a threatened species.

The Klamath River can also be a preferred location for sport fishing, kayaking, and whitewater rafting. Sadly, mines from the California Gold Rush in addition to dams and diversions have brought on quite a lot of water high quality points. Nevertheless, many environmental teams and native tribes have been working collectively to enact change and assist restore the water and surrounding pure habitat.

3.      San Joaquin River – 366 miles

Longest River in California - Joaquin River Delta
The San Joaquin River delta. The river is a wildlife hall, offering passage round human exercise for a lot of species of wildlife.

Jeffrey T. Kreulen/

The San Joaquin River is 366 miles lengthy. It begins within the excessive Sierra Nevada Mountain Vary and finally flowing into Suisun Bay, San Francisco Bay, and the Pacific Ocean. The San Joaquin River is likely one of the most essential sources of irrigation water in California. Additionally it is some of the closely dammed and diverted rivers in California.

The San Joaquin River was as soon as residence to a whole bunch of 1000’s of migratory fish and birds. Historic accounts clarify how there have been instances when there have been so many birds that they might block out the solar within the sky and sounded as loud as a freight prepare.

Engineering growth and human exercise has now changed and altered over 95% of the historic wetlands within the San Joaquin River. Nevertheless, a part of the San Joaquin River is now a Nationwide Wildlife Refuge. Additionally it is an essential wildlife hall, serving to animals go via and round human exercise.

2.      Sacramento River – 400 miles

Longest Rivers in California - Sacramento River
The Sacramento River supplies a habitat for a lot of endangered species.

Teri L Wertman/

The Sacramento River is the longest river that’s contained completely inside the state of California (it doesn’t cross over into some other state). It’s 400 miles lengthy and was as soon as referred to as “the Nile of the West.” At present, it’s a common location for kayaking, motorboating, fishing, searching, tubing, swimming, birding, wildlife statement, and climbing. The river begins within the Klamath Mountains and finally flows to the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta and San Francisco Bay.

The Sacramento River supplies a habitat for 40-60 species of fish and 218 species of birds. Many endemic amphibian and fish species are solely present in and across the Sacramento River. Often even marine animals make their method upriver, like whales and sea lions. The marine mammals normally are misplaced, or are on the lookout for meals or refuge.

Sadly, the wildlife right here suffers from quite a lot of habitat loss because of the agricultural and concrete growth of the Sacramento River. Many of those animals are actually thought of endangered. Endangered species present in and across the Sacrament River embrace the western spadefoot, foothill yellow-legged frog, warbling vireo, least Bell’s vireo, southwestern willow flycatcher, and the western yellow-billed cuckoo.

1.      Colorado River – 1,450 miles

12 Prettiest Rivers In the United States - August 9, 2022
The Colorado River helped carve the Grand Canyon


The Colorado River is the longest river that passes via California. Starting within the central Rocky Mountains in Colorado, the Colorado River flows via seven states: Wyoming, Colorado, Utah, New Mexico, Nevada, Arizona, and California. The Colorado River additionally runs via the Grand Canyon, in addition to eleven totally different U.S. Nationwide Parks.

The Colorado River is residence to 40 species of fish, lots of that are distinctive to this river, just like the razorback sucker, bonytail chub, Colorado pikeminnow, and the humpback chub. These fish are at present in danger on account of habitat loss and water diversion via dams, thermoelectric energy stations, and evaporation.

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