Top 18 Longest Rivers in the US [Update 2024]

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Have you ever looked at a lake, a river or a sea and wondered, “Where does it end?”. Rivers aren’t just calm, relaxing massive water bodies which are used for fishing and moving cargoes. They are also the originators of numerous wonderful imaginations. There is nothing more peaceful than just looking at the horizon of a long river during a beautiful sunset. 

The United States is home to such rivers that stretch beyond our imaginations and offer immense ecological and environmental importance.

Additionally, the longer a river is, the further we can reach cargoes and shipments. Here are the longest rivers in the US, which stretch well beyond any human’s eyesight.

1. Missouri River

Missouri River is one of the longest rivers in the US

The Missouri River is the longest river in the United States with a length of 2,341 miles. Running through seven states that include Iowa, Montana, North Dakota, and Missouri.

It has multiple sources including Brower’s Spring and Firehole River-Madison River. Moreover, Missouri River offers beautiful scenic amenities to various state parks across the country.

2. Mississippi River

Mississippi River

At the mouth of the Gulf of Mexico, Mississippi River is the second-longest river in the United States. Flowing through 10 different states that include Mississippi, Minnesota, Iowa and Wisconsin, Mississippi River is part of numerous cities and state parks across the country.

Additionally, its primary source is Lake Itasca, and it is 2,202 miles long.

3. Yukon River

Yukon River

Running primarily through the state of Alaska, Yukon River is one of the longest rivers in the United States. Its main source is Llewellyn Glacier, which is at the mouth of the Bering Sea.

Moreover, this 1,979-mile river crosses over to Canadian territory as well. Its name “Yukon” means “the pale color”, due to the river being white.

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4. Rio Grande

Referred to in Mexico as “Rio Bravo”, this massive 1,759-mile river runs through both the United States and Mexico. Flowing through states like Rio Grande, Canby Mountain is the main source of this river.

Furthermore, Pole creek is the second source of this river, and it runs through the Gulf of Mexico at its mouth.

5. Colorado River

The longest river in the Gulf of California, Colorado River is around 1,450 miles long. The Colorado River flows through eleven beautiful state parks in the cities of Colorado and California.

Moreover, this river is famed for its canyons and whitewater rapids. The primary source of the Colorado River is La Poudre Pass.

6. Arkansas River

A major tributary of the Mississippi River, this 1,443-mile river is one of the longest rivers in the United States. The Arkansas River runs through four states, Colorado, Arkansas, Oklahoma and Kansas.

Furthermore, its main source is the Confluence of East Folk, situated in Colorado. The Arkansas River also has a very rich history and was first sailed by the Spanish during the 1500s.

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7. Columbia River

Columbia River, rising from the Canadian region of British Columbia, is at the mouth of the Pacific Ocean. Columbia River is 1,243 miles long, making it one of the longest rivers in the country and flows through two American states, Washington and Oregon. Columbia River’s source is the Columbia Lake.

8. Red River of the South

Red River of the South, simply referred to as the Red River, flows through southern American states like Texas, Oklahoma and Arkansas. Atchafalaya River as its mouth, Red River’s main source is in Harmon County, Oklahoma.

The length of this river is 1,125 miles and has a basin size of over 65,000 sq. miles. Famous tributaries from this river include the Little Red River and Salt Folk Red River.

9. Snake River

Famous for its formation, this snake-like is named very appropriately. The Snake River is 1,040 miles long, making it one of the longest rivers in the US.

Moreover, its iconic name brings tourists to states like Wyoming and Idaho. Snake River’s primary source is the Rocky Mountains and its on the mouth of the Columbia River.

Curious to know which is the deepest river in America? Read out this article.

10. Colorado River of Texas

The Colorado River is a river that runs through the state of Texas in the United States and is approximately 1,387 kilometers long. It is the longest river in Texas, as well as the 10th longest river in the United States, and it is the only river in Texas that flows entirely within the state.

11. Ohio River

Ohio River is at the mouth of the Mississippi River and is one of the most industrialized rivers in the country. This river consists of two primary sources, Allegheny River and the Monongahela River.

Additionally, this 979-mile river has many tributaries that run through Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana and Illinois. Being a very industrialized river, cargoes of oil, steel and other raw materials run through it.

12. Tennessee River

Tennessee River flows through states like Kentucky, Tennessee and Alabama, and its largest city is Hunstville. Interestingly, this 935-mile river is the longest tributary of the Ohio River, one of America’s largest and longest rivers.

Moreover, Tennessee River is home to around 102 species of mussels, making it one of the most important rivers in the country in terms of ecology.

13.  Canadian River

Although the name might not suggest it’s an American river, Canadian River is actually the longest tributary of The Arkansas River.

Interestingly, this river is sometimes called the South Canadian River in order to distinguish it from another river that flows by it, the North Canadian River. The Canadian River is 906 miles long and its primary source is the Rocky Mountains.

14. Brazos River

Flowing through America’s second-largest state, Texas, Brazos River originates from Llano Estacado. Moreover, it’s on the mouth of the iconic Gulf of Mexico.

The Brazos River is 860 miles long and is famous for its recreational facilities. Canoeing and sandbar camping are two very popular recreational activities on the Brazos River.

15. Green River

Situated in the western part of the United States, Green River is the longest tributary of the Colorado River. It is one of the main attractions of the Canyonlands National Park and flows through Colorado, Utah and Wyoming.

Its source is the Wind River Mountains in Wyoming and stretches 760 miles long.

16. Pecos River

Pecos River originates in Pecos Falls and is one of the mouths of Rio Grande, one of the top five longest rivers in the US. This 730-mile river has a rich history tied to the western part of the United States.

The Pecos River was used by the Spanish in order to explore the massive the of Texas. Moreover, the Mescalero people used to call this river Rio Natages.

17. White River

The White River is a river that travels through the states of Arkansas and Missouri in the United States. Its total length is 1,162 kilometers (722 miles). It makes an arc to the north into southern Missouri before turning back into Arkansas and flowing to the southeast until it meets the Mississippi River. Its source is in the Boston Mountains, which are located in the northwest corner of Arkansas.

18. James River

It is a branch of the Missouri River and is roughly 710 miles (1,140 km) long. It drains an area that is 20,653 square miles (53,490 km2) and is located in the states of North Dakota and South Dakota in the United States. The James River is also referred as the Jim River or the Dakota River. South Dakota contains around 70 percent of the total drainage basin.

The United States is home to some really long rivers that stretch from one state to another. In fact, some of these rivers stretch to more than five to six states or even more. Interestingly enough, most of these rivers originate from waterfalls or mountain tops and empty in massive ocean basins like the Gulf of Mexico.

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