"BERTHOUD PASS, Colo. — The Colorado River begins as melting snow, trickling from forested peaks and coursing in streams that gather in the meadows and valleys of the Rocky Mountains.
Like arteries, its major tributaries take shape across Colorado, Wyoming, Utah and New Mexico, coming together in a great river like no other — a river that travels more than 1,400 miles and has defined the rise of the American Southwest over the last century.
Water diverted from the river has enabled agriculture to spread across 5 million acres of farmland and has fed the growth of cities from Denver to Los Angeles, supplying about 40 million people. Harnessing the river’s bounty has provided the foundation for life and the economy across seven states and northern Mexico."
Ian James and Molly Hennessy-Fiske report for the Los Angeles Times, with graphics by Sean Greene and photography by Luis Sinco January 26, 2023. First part of multipart package.