1. Columbia River, Oregon
Flowing along the border between two states - Oregon and Washington, the Columbia River is the 4th largest river in the country. The river flows into the Pacific Ocean, and many fish species, most notably salmon, migrate to the river during the warm months from the ocean to spawn. The emblematic features of the mysterious Columbia river are its dark blue waters surrounded by tall pine tree forests, best enjoyed at The Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area.
2. Animas River, Colorado
This free-flowing river runs for 126 miles (203 km) through the San Juan Mountains in Colorado. The Animas River is a beloved whitewater sports location for rafters, but it's also a good destination for those who enjoy game-fishing. Visitors can also admire the views along the river by embarking on a train ride on the Durango and Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad, one of the few remaining steam locomotive tracks in the country.
3. Hanalei River, Hawaii
Running from the peak of 3,500-foot-high (1066 m) Mount Waialeale into Hanalei Bay on the island of Kauai is the Hanalei river. Travelers can enjoy an unforgettable hiking trip through the tropical forests, see several taro farms, and visit the Hanalei National Wildlife Refuge, home to several endemic birds and plants. You can also take a mellow kayaking trip downriver and enjoy the beautiful tropical scenery along the way.
4. Rio Grande, Texas
Creating the border between Texas and Mexico is the 1,800-mile-long (2.896 km) Rio Grande, the 5th longest river in the United States. While some of the areas of the river have been depleted by industrial use, the part of the river situated in the Santa Elena Canyon of Big Bend National Park will show you the river in full beauty, just as the first colonizers have seen it when they first traveled to North America.
5. Hudson River, New York
Separating New York from New Jersey, the mighty Hudson River is an important part of the New York City skyline and an essential waterway. Recognized worldwide, both from Washington Irving’s short stories and the mid-19th century American art, the river runs from the Adirondack Mountains into the Hudson Valley and empties into the Atlantic Ocean.
To admire the natural beauty of the Hudson River like in those classic American landscapes, it's best to travel upstream outside the Big Apple to Hudson Highlands State Park, the Hudson River Islands State Park, or one of the numerous picturesque towns along the Hudson Valley.
6. Colorado River, Arizona
Flowing through seven states in the Southwest is the turquoise beauty that is the Colorado River. 17 million years ago, the rapid waters of this very river carved out the steep walls of the Grand Canyon and created the unique and recognizable landscape of the Southwest. The Colorado River is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the United States, offering a multitude of hiking trails, rafting trips, camping locations, and natural landmarks along its shores.
7. Mississippi River
The Mississippi River is one of the most important rivers in the world. The iconic river is not just an essential travel and trade route, it also provides fresh water and electricity to several states and creates one of the most diverse ecosystems in the world. The Mississippi River is 2,350 miles (3,782 km) long, and it's the second-longest river in the country after the Missouri river.
The river flows through 10 states starting in Minnesota and emptying into the Gulf of Mexico in Louisiana. There are seven national parks along the Mississippi River, with the most famous one being The Mississippi National River and Recreation Area in Minnesota, a site dedicated to the preservation of the river's ecosystem.
8. Merced River, California
Part of the world-famous Yosemite National Park in California, the Merced River is considered to be one of the most scenic rivers in the country, and the nature preservation efforts in the park ensure it will stay that way for decades to come. Several walking trails in Yosemite take visitors along different parts of the river, and whitewater rafting in the Merced River Canyon, as well as Yosemite Valley and Lake McClureis, is also a popular pastime.
9. Tennessee River, Tennessee
The Tennessee River is the largest tributary of the Ohio River. The river is part of the so-called Great Loop, a waterway route that allows travelers to navigate through the entire southeastern USA into the Gulf of Mexico without having to travel through the land. You can also admire magnificent mountaintop vistas of the river from Point Park near Chattanooga.
10. Snake River, Wyoming
The Snake River runs through the states of Idaho, Wyoming, and Washington, and it's the largest tributary of the Columbia River. Most importantly, however, Snake River extends through two famous American national parks - Grand Teton and Yellowstone, and the lush valleys and rugged mountains surrounding the river are simply iconic. Experienced travelers say that you can catch the supreme views of the river by taking a trail through Hells Canyon on the border of Oregon, Idaho, and Washington.
11. Kenai River, Alaska
The last, but definitely not the least river on this list is the Kenai River in central Alaska. This turquoise river is the result of melting glacial water that flows from the Kenai Lake into the Pacific Ocean through the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge. Apart from being a prime destination for fishing, the river is also the perfect place to enjoy the Alpine Forests of Alaska, admire tall pine forests, and a variety of local wildlife.