The Columbia River's Odd Source

January 14, 2015


Photographer: Thomas McGuire
Summary Author: Thomas McGuire

Most rivers in the West begin as small, steep mountain brooks but not the mighty Columbia. The photo above shows the source of North America’s fourth largest river by discharge volume, a swampy valley bottom at the south end of Columbia Lake near Canal Flats, British Columbia. It’s about 10 ft (3 m) lower than the nearby Kootenay River, which flows into the Columbia 373 mi (600 km) downstream. Because Columbia’s flow is actually lower in elevation than its own tributary, some water from the Kootenay seeps into the bog to feed the Columbia.

Photo Details: Camera: Canon PowerShot SX50 HS; Exposure Time: 1/250 sec; F-Stop: 4.0; ISO 160; Focal Length: 4.3 mm; Software: Adobe Photoshop Elements 9.0 Macintosh.