Top 10 Most Beautiful Rivers in the US

Last Updated on May 05, 2023 by Nikki Jain

Since the dawn of civilization, settlements, towns, and cities have sprung up around rivers due to their importance. The United States has thousands of great rivers that criss-cross the country, with many of them attracting visitors to swim, fish, and float down every day.

The US does have a number of rivers and waterways in danger due to pollution. However, there are still plenty of beautiful rivers in the US to visit on your next vacation or weekend break.

Let’s explore the 10 most beautiful rivers in the US.

Most Beautiful Rivers in the USA

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1: Kenai River, Alaska

Kenai River, Alaska
Flickr/Keith Carver

The Kenai River runs through Alaska’s Kenai Peninsula. The picturesque river meanders 82 miles through rocky outcroppings and lush pine tree-covered forests.

Kenai is a perfect fishing location and it gives visitors a great spot to see Alaska’s local wildlife. The river is the most popular sport fishing locale in Alaska.

Fisherman salivate at the mouth to cast into the waters for the salmon that call the Kenai River home.

Address: Kenai River, AK

2: Columbia River, Oregon

Columbia River, Oregon
Flickr/Bonnie Moreland

The Columbia River is the largest river in the Pacific Northwest and extends 1,243 miles. It runs from Canada’s British Columbia down to Washington and into Oregon.

The river is bordered by pine tree forests that give it a mystic feel. The river’s deep blue color adds to the allure of the beautiful river.

Overlooked by cliffs, the Columbia River is the fourth largest river in the US and empties into the Pacific Ocean.

Address: Columbia River Gorge, OR

3: Rio Grande, Texas

Rio Grande, Texas
Flickr/Mia & Steve Mestdagh

The Rio Grande may not be the first river that comes to your mind when considering the most beautiful rivers in the US. It isn’t surrounded by snow-capped mountains, nor does it have pine forests around it.

Visitors to the Rio Grande will find that it looks very similar in stretches to the way it did when settlers first entered the area. The river begins in Colorado and runs into the Gulf of Mexico.

It stretches around 1,800 miles, with the most beautiful part of it situated in Santa Elena Canyon, known as the crown jewels of Big Bend National Park.

Address: Rio Grande, TX

4: Hudson River, New York

Hudson River, New York

Located in eastern New York, the Hudson river extends 315 miles and runs from the Adirondack Mountains and into New York Bay.

According to historians, the Hudson River has been America’s most important river since its discovery in the 1600s.

The river can be found in Manhattan, where it is the backdrop to many vacationers' trips. However, it is outside of New York City that the rivers true beauty lies.

Address: Hudson River, NY

5: Colorado River, Arizona

Colorado River, Arizona

The Colorado River is one of the most beautiful rivers in the US that attracts thousands of visitors every year thanks to its rapids. The waters of the river have carved the canyon’s walls providing beautiful backdrops to photographs for decades.

Rafting trips and hiking excursions are popular choices for travelers. Outdoor lovers can also camp near the river and enjoy the scenery.

Arizona is one of the most popular vacation spots in the US today, and the river attracts plenty of people to its shores each day.

Address: Colorado River, AZ

6: Hanalei River, Hawaii

Hanalei River, Hawaii
Flickr/Jeff Muceus

Located on the north shore of Kauai, the Hanalei River is one of the most beautiful rivers in America that flows from Mount Waialeale for 15.7 miles before it drains into Hanalei Bay.

The river provides habitat to a number of migratory fish species, including gobies, Newcomb's snail, and crustaceans.

For outdoor enthusiasts, there are options for kayaking up the river into the National Wildlife Preserve of Hanalei. Along the way, you can admire the gorgeous flora and fauna that the island offers before soaking up the sun on the Hanalei Bay beach.

Address: Hanalei River, HI

7: Snake River, Wyoming

Snake River, Wyoming
Flickr/Todd Kulesza

The Snake River extends through three American states: Idaho, Wyoming, and Washington.

Visitors will find a variety of natural landscapes that the river runs through including valleys, mountains, and plains. Locals claim the best views can be found in Hells Canyon, which is a large gorge situated near the borders of Oregon, Idaho, and Washington.

The Snake River empties into the Columbia River as it finishes its 1,000-mile journey that begins in Wyoming.

Address: Snake River, WY

8: Animas River, CO

Animas River, CO
Flickr/Mike McBey

Running 126-miles, the Animas River meanders through the San Juan Mountains in southern Colorado. Animas River is a favorite location for rafters who want to explore its extreme rapids.

The river is also a popular destination for game-fishing. One of the reasons travelers head to the Animas River is the Durango and Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad. The train takes riders through the picturesque region providing beautiful views of the Animas River.

9: Tennessee River, Tennessee

Tennessee River, Tennessee
Flickr/Zlatko Unger

The Tennessee River has iconic views from the cliffs that overlook it. The river flows 652 miles and joins the Ohio River as its largest tributary. Due to numerous dams being built along the Tennessee River, several lakes have been formed. The Tennessee River is part of the Great Loop, allowing boat travelers to explore the US without leaving the waterways.

Address: Tennessee River, TN

10: Allegheny River, Pennsylvania

Allegheny River, Pennsylvania
Flickr/Nick Amoscato

Travelers to Pennsylvania and Western New York have long known the wonders of the Allegheny River. The river doesn’t offer whitewater rapids like the rivers in the American mountain west, but it does give boaters the chance to casually float down the river for a relaxing day out.

Boats can enjoy scenic views of the Allegheny National Forest and the lush woods situated near the river. The Allegheny River meanders past small Pennsylvania towns giving visitors the chance to explore America’s northeast.

Address: Allegheny River, PA

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