Bill Williams River

Bill Williams River
Bill Williams River at Southern end of Lake Havasu.jpg
Bill Williams River is located in Arizona
Bill Williams River
Location of the mouth of the Bill Williams River in Arizona
EtymologyWilliam S. Williams, 19th-century preacher and mountain man[1]
CountryUnited States
CountyMohave, La Paz
Physical characteristics
Sourceconfluence of the Big Sandy and Santa Maria rivers
 • locationAlamo Lake
 • coordinates34°18′38″N 113°31′36″W / 34.31056°N 113.52667°W / 34.31056; -113.52667[1]
 • elevation1,175 ft (358 m)[2]
MouthColorado River
 • location
Lake Havasu
 • coordinates
34°18′16″N 114°08′07″W / 34.30444°N 114.13528°W / 34.30444; -114.13528Coordinates: 34°18′16″N 114°08′07″W / 34.30444°N 114.13528°W / 34.30444; -114.13528[1]
 • elevation
453 ft (138 m)[1]
Length46.3 mi (74.5 km)
Basin size5,373 sq mi (13,920 km2)[3]
 • locationmouth[4]
 • average140 cu ft/s (4.0 m3/s)[4]
 • maximum1,845 cu ft/s (52.2 m3/s)

The Bill Williams River is a 46.3-mile-long (74.5 km)[5] river in west-central Arizona where it, along with one of its tributaries, the Santa Maria River, form the boundary between Mohave County to the north and La Paz County to the south.[6] It is a major drainage westwards into the Colorado River of the Lower Colorado River Valley south of Hoover Dam and Lake Mead, and the drainage basin covers portions of northwest, and west-central Arizona. The equivalent drainage system paralleling the east–west lower reaches of the Bill Williams is the Gila River, which flows east-to-west across central Arizona, joining the Colorado River in the southwest at Yuma. The confluence of the Bill Williams River with the Colorado is north of Parker, and south of Lake Havasu City.[6]

To the north of the river are the Artillery Mountains, the Rawhide Mountains and Bill Williams Mountain. To the south lie the Buckskin Mountains.[6] The old mining camp of Swansea (now a ghost town) lies in the Buckskin Mountains about 3.7 miles (6.0 km) south of the river.[7]

The two tributaries that form the Bill Williams are the Big Sandy River and the Santa Maria River.[1] Alamo Lake, a flood control reservoir, lies just west of the confluence of the two tributaries.[6] The reservoir and state park is a major fishing and recreation region on the river.[8] The confluence of the Bill Williams River with the Colorado River is just north of Parker Dam and the entire riparian environment has state parks and wilderness areas: Buckskin Mountain State Park, Cattail Cove State Park, and the Gibraltar Mountain, Swansea, and Cactus Plain wilderness areas.

The river is named after mountain man Bill Williams.[9]

Flora and fauna

Fish species in the Bill Williams river include largemouth bass, yellow bullhead, green sunfish, bluegill, carp, mosquitofish, red shiner, razorback sucker, and others. The lowland leopard frog, North American river otter, beaver, muskrat, Arizona toad, and spiny-spotted turtle are among the major aquatic vertebrates found in or near the water. Plants in the riparian zones include several kinds of willows as well as bulrushes, and saltcedar. The Bill Williams Wildlife Refuge near Parker is frequented by at least 335 species of birds.[10]

Nature reserves

The city of Scottsdale, Arizona, formerly owned a ranch on the river and planned to export water from it. However, in 2006, Scottsdale sold the ranch & surroundings to the Phelps Dodge mining company, which operated it as a nature reserve, under a government program for companies to restore habitat in one area to balance environmental damage caused elsewhere.

The Bill Williams River National Wildlife Refuge protects the lower course of the river, to its mouth at Lake Havasu reservoir.[11] The Sonoran Desert rare riparian habitat of Bill Williams River NWR draws a variety of Neotropical migratory birds, from Central and South America en route to their breeding grounds in the north. It has one of the last stands of the natural Cottonwood-Willow Forests plant community along the lower Colorado River, with Fremont's cottonwood (Populus fremontii) and Goodding's willow (Salix gooddingii) the primary tree species.[12]

See also


  1. ^ a b c d e "Bill Williams River". Geographic Names Information System. United States Geological Survey. February 8, 1980. Retrieved November 30, 2012.
  2. ^ Artillery Peak, AZ, 7.5 Minute Topographic Quadrangle, USGS, 1990
  3. ^ "Bill Williams River Watershed" (PDF). U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. January 2011. p. 5. Retrieved November 30, 2012.
  4. ^ a b Benke and Cushing, p. 519
  5. ^ "The National Map". U.S. Geological Survey. Archived from the original on March 29, 2012. Retrieved March 7, 2011.
  6. ^ a b c d Arizona Atlas & Gazetteer, DeLorme, 4th ed., 2001, pp. 46-47
  7. ^ Swansea, Arizona, 7.5 Minute Topographic Quadrangle, USGS, 1990
  8. ^ McKinnon, Shaun (August 11, 2006). "Saving Rivers Will Also Save Us". The Arizona Republic. Retrieved December 1, 2012.
  9. ^ "Bill Williams River National Wildlife Refuge" (PDF). U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service. Retrieved December 11, 2021.
  10. ^ Benke and Cushing, p. 535
  11. ^ U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service: Official Bill Williams River National Wildlife Refuge website . accessed 6.4.2014
  12. ^ U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service: Bill Williams River Overview . accessed 6.4.2014

Works cited

  • Benke, Arthur C., ed., and Cushing, Colbert E., ed.; Blinn, Dean W. and Poff, N. Leroy (2005). "Chapter 11: Colorado River Basin" in Rivers of North America. Burlington, Massachusetts: Elsevier Academic Press. ISBN 0-12-088253-1. OCLC 59003378.

External links

  • Alamo Lake State Park
  • Arizona Boating Locations Facilities Map
  • Arizona Fishing Locations Map
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