Rivers In Mexico: Learn More About These 10 Beautiful Rivers

5 mins read
Rivers In Mexico
Image from Pixabay by Roselie/305 images, copyright 2017

Given its rich cultural history, Mexico ranks seventh in the world regarding the number of UNESCO world heritage sites. Due to the number of heritage sites and rich biodiversity, Mexico is the sixth most visited country in the world. The government takes pride in its deep canyons. Rivers in Mexico play a very important role in the country’s economy and the livelihoods of the citizens. Most of the cities and towns in Mexico receive water from natural resources like rivers and lakes.

Besides tourism, the rivers are mainly used for irrigation and hydroelectric power. The country’s dams have a total capacity of 11 Gigawatts of electricity, which is one-fifth of the country’s full generating capacity. The government has about 245 rivers, most of which are located in Northern Mexico. The rivers play an important role in tourism and the country’s economic development. Many rivers pass through the wall because Mexico shares an international border with the USA.

Located in the southern portion of North America and bordered by the Pacific Ocean in the south, Mexico is one of the most diverse countries in the world in terms of biodiversity and history. Due to the colonization by the Spanish Empire, the official language in Mexico is Spanish. Mexico has the highest Spanish-speaking population in the world. Mexico is recognized as a federal republic with 31 states, and its capital is Mexico City.

Recognized as one of the six cradles of civilization in the world, the country is home to many intertwined civilizations like the Purepecha, Aztecs, Maya, Zapotec, and Olmec. Mexico is the 15th largest in the world, with a total GDP of 1.15 trillion in terms of nominal GDP. The areas contributing to the GDP include communications, energy, industry, and, most importantly, the tourism sector (63% of the total GDP).

Since Mexico is an amalgamation of several cultural influences, there is no shortage of historical sites and buildings. One of the most popular historical sites is the Mayan Ruins, which are located in the city of Tulum. While such sites play an important role in tourism, the country’s trump card is its coastlines. Some popular beach destinations include Acupalco, Playa Del Carmen, Isla Mujeres, Isla Holbox, and San Filipo in Baja, California.

Rivers In Mexico
Image from Pixabay by DomPixabay/95 images, copyright 2017

Longest Rivers in Mexico

1. Rio Grande

Originating in the San Juan mountains of Colorado, the Rio Grande is one of Mexico’s longest and major rivers, with a total length of about 3000 KM. It also forms part of the international boundaries between the USA and Mexico. In Mexico, it is known as Rio bravo. The river is one of the key water sources for many cities in the US and Mexico. They are mainly used to hydrate cities and irrigate the farmlands. Currently, only 20 % of the Rio Grande reaches the Pacific Ocean.

Rio Grande
Images from Pixabay by 12019/10257 images, copyright 2016

2. Colorado River

Like the Rio Grande, the Colorado River originates from the USA (Rocky Mountains) and flows south toward Mexico. With a total length of about 1450 miles, the river journeys across the Colorado Plateau, Grand Canyon, and Lake Mead and finally reach Mexico through the Colorado River delta. The Colorado River has 25 major tributaries, the largest being the Green River. The river is primarily used for irrigation agriculture, which supports vast irrigated fields. The Colorado River water gets discharged into the Gulf of California.

Colorado River
Image from Pixabay by KeYang/10 images, copyright 2016

3. Grijalva river

The Grijalva river is located in the Southeastern part of Mexico. It originates from the Chiapas Highlands (the southernmost part of Mexico) and flows through Villahermosa, Tabasco. With a total length of about 480 km, it is also known as the Tabasco River. The river gets its name from the founder Gruan Di Java, a conqueror who visited Mexico in 1518. The river flows into the Usumacinta river at Tabasco. This, in turn, forms a wetland in Pantanos De Centla. The combined length of the Grijalva and Usumacinta rivers is double that of the Missouri River in the USA.

Grijalva River
Image from Pixabay by DEZALB / 3906 images, copyright 2020

4. Balsas River

The Balsas river is also known as the ‘Atoyac River.’ With a total length of about 771 KM, the Balsas river is one of the largest rivers in Mexico. Located in the South-Central region of Mexico, the river flows through Morelos, Puebla, and Guerrero and ends near Mangrove point into the Pacific Ocean. The Balsas river has played a very important role in economic development. After establishing river basin councils, the Balsas river played an integral role in generating hydroelectric power, supporting vast irrigated fields, and providing agricultural run-off through maize domestication.

5. Culiacán River

Rivers play a very important role in providing water to particular locations. The Culiacan River serves a very important purpose by offering water to Sinaloa City. Compared to other rivers in Mexico in terms of length, the Culiacan River is the fifth largest. It is a junction of the Tamazula and Humaya rivers and originates from the Sierra Madre Occidental. The ending point of the Culiacan River is in the Gulf of California.

6. Conchos River

Originating from the Sierra Madre Occidental, the Conchos river comes among Mexico’s top ten longest rivers. It passes through Chihuahua State (14 Municipalities). The main purpose of River Conchos is to be a tourist spot. Due to its geographical location, a cool breeze flows across the Conchos River. Besides being a popular tourist location, river Conchos also serve as an important source of irrigation for northern Mexican citizens. The endpoint of the river is the Rio Grande.

Conchos River
Image from Pixabay by larahcv / 180 images, copyright 2017

7. Rio Lerma

With a total length of about 750 KM, the Rio Lerma is one of the longest rivers in Mexico. Originating from the Mexican Plateau, Rio Lerma flows through the West-Central Regions of Michoacan, Queretaro, and Guanajuato states of Mexico and ends in Lake Chapala. Before the 20th century, one of the primary purposes of the river was to provide irrigation to the land. However, as time passed, Industrial waste was being dumped in the river, which made Rio Lerma one of the most polluted rivers in Mexico. After 2000, the government began to realize the issue and started taking important measures to ensure that the pollution levels in the river declined.

8. Riveria Maya

With a 120 KM stretch of crystal clear waters, Riveria Maya is truly a delight for tourists visiting Mexico. The river is located towards the eastern side of the Yucatan Peninsula. There is a coastline of white sand beaches, which provides a breathtaking view of the landscape. Given its scenic coastline and clear waters, the government and entrepreneurs realized that setting up tourist-based activities could help to bring in more income. Such activities include scuba diving, swimming with dolphins, swimming in cenotes, snorkeling, jet-skiing, zip-lining, and sailing. If you are hydrophobic or don’t like water, there are activities on the land, including horse riding and jungle tour safaris.

9. Rio Secreto

While most of the rivers covered earlier flow on regular land, Rio Secreto happens to be very special. The main reason being is that it is an underwater river. The river flows through Quintana Roo, and below the thick bushes or Riveria Maya, Rio Secreto is another popular tourist destination. It can be described as a limestone cave system. It is home to various fauna, including a tarantula, catfish, bats, and many more. An ideal tourist spot for those who enjoy seclusion is located in a remote area.

10. Fuerte River

Another river That originates from the Sierra Madre Occidental, the Fuerte river, travels through multiple states in Mexico. The river originates from the state of Sinaloa, which is located in the northeastern part of Mexico. The river gets drained into the Pacific Ocean through the Gulf of California. Like its other counterparts, the water is extensively used for irrigation. Mango plantations also surround the river. However, most of the mangos harvested are used for export in the United States.


Mexico is a beautiful country with historical sites, scenery, and a large variety of rivers. Some of the longest rivers in Mexico include the Rio Grande, the Conchos, and the Colorado river. The main purpose of the rivers can vary. They can be used for electricity generation, irrigation, or tourism.

With the increasing pollution levels, it is important to note that the rivers in Mexico have become vulnerable to the effects of industrialization. While you might assume that it has a minimal impact, it creates a snowball effect when such actions are done over time. While many organizations are trying to limit the amount of pollution being caused, tourists also play an equally important role in preserving the natural environment. If traveling to different locations, never litter, especially in water bodies.

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USA Tales has content written by niche experts, travelers, students, and those with real-life experience. Our content is also periodically reviewed by subject matter experts to ensure content accuracy and relevancy. Have a question? Email us at team@usatales.com

Rahul Bhuyan

Born and brought up in Bangalore, I have always been fascinated by writing. I have a total of three years of work experience in different industries like fast food restaurants, Information Technology and Training and Development. My hobbies include watching movies, writing and exercise.

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