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A Survey of the Recreational Resources of the Colorado River Basin







The Colorado River Basin


Plant and Animal Life

Prehistory of Man

Recreational Benefits of Reservoirs

Potential Reservoirs

The Grand Canyon

Canyon Lands of Southeastern Utah

Dinosaur National Monument

Conservation of Recreational Resources

Life Zone Map


A Survey of the Recreational Resources of the Colorado River Basin
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Colorado River
Figure 1.—View west over Colorado River to the Orange Cliffs and the Henry Mountains.


Most rivers are friendly to man; they are arteries of commerce and their valleys are centers of industrial and agricultural activities, but the Colorado is a hindrance rather than an aid to travel and transportation. For about 80 percent of its course, the river is cliff-bound and most of the tributary channels are deep and narrow, ideal for the construction of dams for water storage but not readily adaptable to gravity distribution of stored water for irrigation purposes in the immediate vicinity. In area, the Colorado River Basin comprises 8.7 percent of the United States, but contains only 0.7 percent of the population. Successful farming and fruit raising, development of the tourist industry, and the future growth of the basin depend upon the wise use of its water and other resources, including the preservation of its scenic character and appropriate development of its recreational possibilities. The snow and rain that fall in the Wind River Mountains in Wyoming and the Rocky Mountains in Colorado may help to water a melon patch near Yuma, Ariz. Wise utilization of all resources of the basin requires careful and thorough study of all their potentialities so that the best possible use may be made of them in providing a good life for the people within the basin and for the benefit of the Nation as a whole.

The Colorado River Basin includes desert and mountains, canyons and high plateaus. Among the great resources of the basin are its scenic, scientific, historic, and recreational features. With the growth and development of the Nation, interest in these features is increasing rapidly. This is particularly true with regard to recreation which is one of the fundamental necessities of human life, taking its place with health, spiritual and economic well-being, and work as basic requirements for balanced living. The economic welfare of the basin will depend largely upon its agricultural production, but the adequacy of the recreational facilities within the basin will be an important factor toward increasing and maintaining this production at a high level. In addition, adequately developed recreational facilities will attract tourists and thereby further enrich its economy. In this connection, the preservation of great natural areas like Grand Canyon and Zion National Parks for the use and enjoyment of the people for all time is of inestimable value. While Hoover Dam was constructed primarily for the benefit of the people living within the basin, a substantial benefit is carrying over to adjoining areas. For example, the power generated has made possible the establishment of large industries in southern California and the people brought in by these industries are turning to Lake Mead and other places in the Colorado River Basin for recreation.

In order that the recreational resources may receive consideration in planning and development of the basin, the National Park Service has made the survey recorded in this report.

Oscar L. Chapman
Oscar L. Chapman
Secretary of the Interior.

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Last Modified: Mon, Sep 6 2004 10:00:00 pm PDT

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