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Here, the climate becomes significantly drier than that in the Rocky Mountains, and the river becomes entrenched in progressively deeper gorges of bare rock, beginning with Ruby Canyon and then Westwater Canyon as it enters Utah, now once again heading southwest.

During the construction of Glen Canyon Dam, environmental organizations vowed to block any further development of the river, and a number of later dam and aqueduct proposals were defeated by citizen opposition.In Utah, the Colorado flows primarily through the "slickrock" country, which is characterized by its narrow canyons and unique "folds" created by the tilting of sedimentary rock layers along faults.This is one of the most inaccessible regions of the continental United States.At the lower end of Grand Canyon, the Colorado widens into Lake Mead, the largest reservoir in the continental United States, formed by Hoover Dam on the border of Arizona and Nevada.Situated southeast of metropolitan Las Vegas, the dam is an integral component for management of the Colorado River, controlling floods and storing water for farms and cities in the lower Colorado River basin.Early contact between Europeans and Native Americans was generally limited to the fur trade in the headwaters and sporadic trade interactions along the lower river.After most of the Colorado River basin became part of the U. in 1846, the bulk of the river's course was still the subject of myths and speculation.Several expeditions charted the Colorado in the mid-19th century – one of which, led by John Wesley Powell, was the first to run the rapids of the Grand Canyon.American explorers collected valuable information that was later used to develop the river for navigation and water supply.In Arizona, the river passes Lee's Ferry, an important crossing for early explorers and settlers and since the early 20th century the principal point where Colorado River flows are measured for apportionment to the seven U. Below the confluence with the Little Colorado River, the river swings west into Granite Gorge, the most dramatic portion of the Grand Canyon, where the river cuts up to one mile (1.6 km) into the Colorado Plateau, exposing some of the oldest visible rocks on Earth, dating as long ago as 2 billion years.The 277 miles (446 km) of the river that flow through the Grand Canyon are largely encompassed by Grand Canyon National Park and are known for their difficult whitewater, separated by pools that reach up to 110 feet (34 m) in depth.

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