Mountain Matron

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Here's what the Rio Grande, Continental Divide Elevation 4,585 feet, Interstate 10, and New Mexico really have in common - Mountain Matron

Posted on September 29, 2017 at 9:45 PM

Here’s what the Rio Grande, Continental Divide - Elevation 4,585, Interstate 10, and New Mexico really have in common - Mountain Matron

The Rio Grande flows through three U.S states eventually creating a border between Texas and four states of Mexico in an astounding length of 1,900 miles. Those statistics rank it among the top 5 longest rivers in North America. The Rio Grande starts in the snow-filled San Juan Mountains of Colorado continuing generally south through New Mexico along the border of Texas and parallel states of Mexico eventually funnelling its way into the Gulf of Mexico. The river has an expansive entirety of 336,000 square miles, yet because of the arid nature of much of its lower region only half of its existence contributes to the river's flow.

There had been long-time controversial border disputes of ownership between the U.S and Mexico because of the river’s shifts in flow at the Texas and Mexico junction. In 1968 Texas ends the 114-year argument by diverting the water to a 190-mile concrete channel below what is now Big Bend National Park retaining U.S protection as Rio Grande Wild and Scenic River.


  • In 1828, after the abolishment of slavery in Mexico, slaves from Texas would cross the Rio Grande to seek freedom
  • In the 1800’s more than 200 steamboats used the Rio Grande as a transportation route between Brownsville and Rio Grande City.
  • The Rio Grande has been placed on the Most Endangered Rivers list 6 times between the years 1993 & 2003
  • Before rushing into the gulf coast the Rio Grande slices three magnificent canyons varying from 1,500ft. - 1,700ft. creating a “big bend”   (Read more at Big Bend National Park)

The Rio Grande, Continental Divide, Interstate 10 and myself became acquainted on my recent traveling from Phoenix, Arizona to El Paso, Texas to Las Cruces, New Mexico back to El Paso, and then on the return home to Phoenix.

About 5 hours into this trip, heading eastbound approximately 30 minutes past Lordsburg, New Mexico occupying a quiet deserted Interstate 10 I crossed paths with the Continental Divide and the Rio Grande. It was dark and I saw nothing but the green signs posted near the highway. Fortunately for me I was ready with my phone on hand and fast enough to photograph the river as a passenger moving 80mph 6 days later on my way home. I wasn’t however as lucky when shortly after we reached the clearly marked sign acknowledging the 4,585ft. elevation portion of the Continental Divide. You will see a sign for both on both the east and westbound lanes of Interstate 10 between Lordsburg and Deming, New Mexico.


After spending 7 days in two new to me states, mostly indoors, it was quite interesting to experience the region from a historic and geographic perspective.


  • What are your most interesting facts about the Rio Grande, New Mexico or Texas? Comment below.

Categories: Articles Of Aspiration, Travel

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