Texas includes approximately 3,700 named streams and 15 major rivers that flow past 191,000 miles of varied landscape. Two of Texas' iconic rivers make up part of its natural borders--the Rio Grande to the south and the Red River to the north. The Brazos River, in central Texas, is the source of Possum Kingdom Lake, one of the state's clearest and deepest reservoirs.
The Rio Grande is probably the most famous and most scenic of Texas' rivers. Rising in Colorado at the base of Canby Mountain, the Rio Grande has about 1,248 miles located in Texas, and it makes up its southern border with Mexico. The river is virtually dry from about El Paso south to about Presidio, Texas, where input from an additional tributary contributes to its flow. Despite being the fourth-longest river system in the United States, the Rio Grande has relatively low volume of flow and is only navigable by small fishing boats.
The Red River, a major tributary to the Mississippi River, makes up much of Texas' northern border with Oklahoma. The river rises in two forks in northern Texas that join near Elmer, Oklahoma. Upstream from Clay County, recreational use of the river depends on periods of heavy rainfall runoff. The more popular recreational destinations begin at Lake Texoma near Denison, Texas, where the Denison Dam discharges water during the summer months to generate electricity. The rest of the river eastward to the Arkansas border near Texarkana is particularly active during this period.
At 840 miles, the Brazos River is the longest river between the Rio Grande and the Red River. Of the three forks--the Double Mountain, the Salt Fork and the Clear Fork--only the Clear Fork has year-round recreational use. Possum Kingdom Lake, known for deep, clear blue waters, is a reservoir of the Brazos created by the Morris Sheppard Dam. The best recreational use is found at the lake and points downstream (south) when the dam is generating. The 41.4-mile section of the Brazos River between Possum Kingdom and Highway 180 is among the most scenic sections of the Brazos, flowing through the rocky and wild Palo Pinto Mountains.