The Rio Grande is the fourth longest river in the United States, flowing approximately 1,896 miles from Colorado to the Gulf of Mexico, forming part of the U.S.-Mexican border along the way. Because its length is debated it is either North America's fourth or fifth longest river. The Rio Grande watershed (area of land that is drained by the river) is approximately 335,000 square miles. 1250 miles of the Rio Grande make up the United States and Mexican border, an area that has been in dispute throughout history once the region began to be settled by Europeans and Mexico fought for land they believed they owned. In 1944 a treaty was signed between the U.S. and Mexico.
Other names for the Rio Grande have included Rio Bravo, Keresan (Big River), Tewa (Big River), Tiwa (Big River), and Towa (Great Waters).
The Rio Grande flows from Colorado through New Mexico, Texas, Chihuahua, Coahuila, Nuevo Leon, and Tamaulipas.
The Rio Grande was designated an American Heritage River in 1997.
The Rio Grande's major tributaries include Red River, Rio Hondo, Rio Pueblo de Taos, Embudo River, Santa Fe River, Galisteo Creek, Alamito Creek, Terlingua Creek, Pecos River, Devils River, Conejos River, Rio Chama, Rio Conchos, Rio Salado, Rio Alamo, and San Juan River.
Dams along the Rio Grande include Rio Grande Dam, Retamal Dam, Anzalduas Dam, Falcon Dam, Amistad Dam, Caballo Dam, Elephant Butte Dam, and Cochiti Dam.
Major cities in the United States along the Rio Grande include Santa Fe, Albuquerque, Mesilla, Las Cruces, Truth or Consequence, El Paso, Presidio, Del Rio, Eagle Pass, Laredo, Rio Grande City, Brownsville, and McAllen.
Major cities in Mexico along the Rio Grande include Matamoros, Reynosa, Camargo, Nuevo Laredo, Peidras Negras, Ciudad Acuna, Ojinaga, and Ciudad Juarez.
The Rio Grande has been listed as one of the Most Endangered Rivers since 1993.
The Rio Grande river first failed to reach the Gulf of Mexico in in 2001 when a sandbar formed.