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Where does the Brazos River begin and end?

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Rivers provide many important services. They provide drinking water, improve navigation and irrigate farmland. In addition, rivers provide recreational opportunities and can generate hydroelectric power for households and businesses. They provide shelter and food for plants and animals and create opportunities for life to thrive.

Also known as river of arms of god, The Brazos River is one of the longest rivers in Texas. For centuries, the river has played an important role in the history of the region. Today, the river continues to irrigate crops and provide fresh drinking water to the communities in its catchment area. It’s also a popular spot for fishing, boating, camping, and picnicking. But where does the Brazos River begin and end?

Read on to learn more about the meandering course of the Brazos River. We will follow its journey from its headwaters to its mouth and see which areas it crosses along the way. We also learn what makes the river important and the threats it faces today.

Where does the Brazos River begin?

Before discussing where the Brazos River begins, we must first define what we mean by upper reaches, main stem, and estuary. The headwaters of a river or stream is the furthest point from its source to its mouth (the place where it ends). A river can have many sources or tributaries, but typically has only one headwater. However, it can be difficult to identify the headwaters of a river, especially when it has multiple sources. Meanwhile, the main stem of a river represents the primary downstream part of a river. When we talk about where rivers begin, we usually refer to the beginning of the main stem.

The headwaters of the Brazos River are near Blackwater Draw in Roosevelt County, New Mexico. This intermittent stream begins just 11 miles southwest of Clovia, New Mexico. From there it flows southeast toward Lubbock, Texas, where it eventually empties into the North Fork Double Mountain Fork of the Brazos River.

Meanwhile, the main trunk of the Brazos River begins at the confluence of the Double Mountain Fork and the Salt Fork. These two tributaries form the actual Brazos River on the plains of the Llano Estacado, a mesa in north Texas.

Which states does the Brazos River flow through?

The Brazos River flows through Texas and New Mexico.


Adding the headwaters to the total length of the river, the Brazos River flows through two states, New Mexico and Texas. However, considering only the main stream of the river, the Brazos River is entirely in Texas.

Where does the Brazos River end?

From the beginning of its main stem in north Texas, the Brazos River flows east briefly before cutting south. On its journey south it passes three dams, all located on the Upper Brazos River north of Waco. These dams form Possum Kingdom Lake, Lake Granbury and Lake Whitney. After passing Lake Whitney, the Brazos River meanders through several cities including Waco, Calvert, College Station and Richmond. The river ends at its confluence with the Gulf of Mexico south of the city of Freeport.

How big is the Brazos River?

The Brazos River is 840 miles from the beginning of its main trunk at Llano Estacado to its confluence with the Gulf of Mexico. However, if you include its headwaters at Blackwater Draw, the river is almost 1,280 miles long.

The Brazos River drains an area of ​​about 45,000 square miles. Its discharge varies greatly depending on the point along the river and the time of year. On average, the river discharges about 8,390 cubic feet per second. Meanwhile, some points discharge as little as 27 cubic feet per second, while others reach about 84,000 cubic feet per second.

Is the Brazos River the longest river in the region?

The state of Texas contains approximately 11,000 named streams and rivers. Most of these creeks measure no more than a few miles, while others run almost the entire state. Although the Brazos River is considered one of the longest rivers in Texas, it is not the longest. This award belongs to the Rio Grande, which is 1,896 miles long. The Red River of the South ranks second with a length of 1,360 miles. Meanwhile, the Brazos River ranks 3rd with a length of 840 miles (or 1,280 miles from its headwaters).

Why is the Brazos River important?

Brazos River
Some of the state’s first English-speaking settlements were along the Brazos River.


You can’t tell Texas history without mentioning the Brazos River. The first humans came to the Brazos River Valley thousands of years ago. Several Native American tribes lived on its shores, including the Caddo, Comanche, Wichita, Tonkawa, and Karankawa. In the Caddo language, the river was called “Tokonohono”. The tribes that lived along the Brazos relied on the river for drinking water, food, and irrigation.

The river also played an important role in the expansion of European settlers into Texas. Some of the state’s first English-speaking settlements were along the Brazos River. In 1836, leaders of the Texas independence movement officially declared independence from Mexico in Washington-on-the-Brazos, a community on the Brazos River in present-day Washington County. After the Declaration of Independence, the Texan revolutionaries went to war with Mexico. These two sides fought several battles including a naval battle along the Brazos River.

For hundreds of years, the Brazos River has served as an important navigational route in central Texas. Today, thousands of merchant ships travel down the river each year to bring goods to Freeport, Texas. The river provides drinking water to millions of people in its catchment area and irrigates thousands of hectares of farmland. Several dams along its course provide hydroelectric power for households and businesses. Some of these dams have also created reservoirs, the most important of which are Possum Kingdom Lake and Lake Whitney. In addition, the river also offers recreational opportunities such as boating, fishing, picnicking, and sailing. These activities attract tourists to the area and boost the central Texas economy.

What threatens the Brazos River?

Like many rivers in the United States, the Brazos River struggles with water quality issues. Numerous pollutants flow into the river from various sources. Some of the main pollutants in the river are agricultural runoff, sewage, and chemical by-products from manufacturing. All of these pollutants degrade the water quality of the river. These pollutants also often have unexpected consequences. In recent years, the river has seen large blooms of toxic golden algae. This algae can kill fish and other organisms in the river and occurs due to increased salinity in the water. Industrial and chemical pollution can increase salinity, thereby creating the specific environment in which toxic algae thrive.

In addition to pollution, the Brazos River also faces another major threat: overcrowding. Local governments often set limits on how much water can be taken from a river. Without these boundaries, rivers can become overloaded and dry up. In recent decades, the Brazos River Authority has allocated increasing amounts of the river’s water for private use. This over-allocation is slowly bleeding the river dry. Drought conditions in the state are making the situation worse as the Brazos River is not getting the rain it needs to replenish the water it has withdrawn.

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