The Columbia

Length:1954 kilometres (1,214 miles)
Elevation change:Columbia Lake 820 metres (2,690 ft)
International Border: 390 m (1,279 ft)
Drains into:Pacific Ocean
Drainage area:102,800 km2 (39,691 mi2)
US: 568,500 km2 (219,499 mi2)
Total: 671,300 km2 (259,190 mi2)
Dams:Mica (1976)
Revelstoke (1984)
Hugh Keenleyside (1968)

The Columbia River system is the most hydroelectrically developed river system in the world. It begins at Columbia Lake, flows north to the confluence of the Wood and Canoe Rivers and switches direction south to form the Arrow Lakes. At Castlegar it is joined by the Kootenay River, south of Trail it is joined by the Pend d’Oreille River and then flows across the International Border. In Washington and Oregon its tributaries include the Okanogan, Spokane, Kettle, and Snake Rivers to name a few. It flows into the Pacific Ocean at Astoria, Oregon.

Historically the river in Canada had many sections of turbulent water that are now areas that are covered by the flood waters behind the large dams on the stem of the Columbia.

View the Columbia Image Gallery

The Kootenay

Length:780 km (485 miles)
Elevation change:2200 m (7,217 ft) Headwaters
532m (1,745 ft) Kootenay Lake
420m (1,377 ft) Confluence with the Columbia River
total 1,780 metres (5,840 feet)
Drainage area:Can.: 37 700 km2 (14,556 mi2)
US: 12 600 km2 ( 4,860 mi2)
Total: 50 300 km2 (19 420 mi2)
Drains into:Columbia River
Dams:Libby (Montana)
Corra Linn (1932)
Kootenay Canal (1976)
Bonnington Falls (1906)
Upper Bonnington (1907)
Lower Bonnington (1897)
South Slocan (1928)
Brilliant (1944)

The Kootenay River flows south from its headwaters in the Rocky Mountains near Field exits Canada at Koocanusa Reservoir upstream from the Libby Dam in Montana. It returns to Canada at Creston to form Kootenay Lake, it then drains west, along the West Arm of Kootenay Lake to join the Columbia River at Castlegar.

View the Kootenay Image Gallery

Duncan River

Length:128 km (79 mi)
Elevation change:1266 m (4153 ft)
Drainage Area:2410 km2 (930 mi2);
Drains into:Kootenay River
Dams:Duncan Dam (1967)

Slocan River

Length:97 km (60.2 miles)
Elevation change:95 m (311 ft)
Drainage Area:3 290 km2 (1270 mi2)
Drains into:Kootenay River

Elk River

Length:220 km (137 miles)
Elevation change:1002 m (3287 ft)
Drainage Area:4450 km2 (1718 mi2)
Drains into:Kootenay River along the Koocanusa Reservoir.
Dams:Elko Dam (1924)

Kettle River

Length:336 km (208 miles)
Drainage Area:4700 km2 (1814 mi2)
Drains into:Columbia River in Washington State
Dams:Cascade Dam (1899, dismantled 1924)

It crosses the International Border south or Christina Lake at Cascade.

Goat River

Length:85 km (52.8 miles)
Elevation change:1430 m (4691ft)
Drains into:Kootenay River, just south of Kootenay Lake
Dams:Goat River Dam (1924, no longer power producing)

Illecillewaet River

Length:62 km (38.5 miles)
Elevation change:1500 m (4921 feet)
Drainage Area:1202 km2 (464 mi2)
Drains into:Columbia River at Revelstoke
Dams:Illecillewaet Dam (1897, dismantled 1982?)

Spillimacheen River

Length:118 km ( 73 miles)
Elevation change:1570 m (5,150 ft)
Drainage Area:1430 km2 (552 mi2)
Drains into:Columbia River, south of Golden
Dams:Spillimacheen Dam (1955)

Bull River

Length:117 km (72 miles)
Elevation change:1219 m (3,999 ft)
Drains into:Kootenay River, north of the Koocanusa Reservoir
Dams:Aberfeldie Dam (1922)

Pend d'Oreille River

Length:209 km (130 miles)
Elevation change:629 m (2,064 ft)
Drainage Area:62,678 km2 (24,200 mi2)
Drains into:Columbia River, just north of the International Boundary
Dams:Seven Mile Dam (1979)
Waneta Dam (1954)

The Pend d'Oreille River flows into British Columbia for its final 24 km (15 mi) before it joins the Columbia River.

River Galleries
Columbia River
Columbia River Systems

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Kootenay Lake
Kootenay River System

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