Big Sandy River (Arizona)

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Big Sandy River
Country United States
State Arizona
County Mohave, La Paz
Source Between Hualapai and Aquarius ranges
 - location East of U.S. Route 93 near Hualapai Indian Reservation, Mohave County
 - elevation 2,435 ft (742 m) [1]
 - coordinates 34°55′21″N 113°37′37″W / 34.92250°N 113.62694°W / 34.92250; -113.62694 [2]
Mouth Bill Williams River
 - location Alamo Lake State Park, La Paz County
 - elevation 1,237 ft (377 m) [2]
 - coordinates 34°18′38″N 113°31′36″W / 34.31056°N 113.52667°W / 34.31056; -113.52667Coordinates: 34°18′38″N 113°31′36″W / 34.31056°N 113.52667°W / 34.31056; -113.52667 [2]
Length 55.7 mi (90 km) [3]
Basin 1,988 sq mi (5,149 km2) [4]
Location of the mouth of the Big Sandy River

The Big Sandy River is an intermittent stream in Mohave and La Paz counties in northwestern Arizona in the United States. It begins where Cottonwood Wash and Trout Creek converge in the Hualapai Indian Reservation east of U.S. Route 93 then flows past Wikieup south of Kingman. It is 55.7 miles (89.6 km) long[3] and joins the Santa Maria River to form the Bill Williams River at Alamo Lake State Park.


The Big Sandy drainage basin covers about 2,000 square miles (5,200 km2) in Mohave, La Paz, and Yavapai counties.[4] The Hualapai Mountains are west of the river, and the Aquarius and Mohon Mountains lie to the east and southeast, the Juniper Mountains further east, and the Peacock Mountains and Cottonwood Mountains to the north. Hualapai Peak at 8,417 feet (2,566 m) is the highest point in the basin.[4]

Except for the northeastern part of the basin, aquifers supply a median well flow of 300 US gallons (1,100 L) per minute and up to 2,000 US gallons (7,600 L) per minute at Cane Springs, along Route 93 north of Wikieup.[5] The largest spring in the Bill Williams River watershed is south of Cane Springs in the Big Sandy watershed; it discharges at 1,600 US gallons (6,100 L) per minute.[5] Much of the water pumped from the basin is used in mining operations in the Bill Williams area. The Big Sandy basin, as of 2000, had a population of 1,142 people.[6]

In 2001 the Line Siting Committee of the Arizona Corporation Commission voted 8–1 to deny a request to build a power plant in the basin, on grounds of environmental incompatibility. The proposed plant, fueled by natural gas, would have required 2,400 to 2,500 US gallons (9,100 to 9,500 L) of water a minute to cool its steam turbines. An endangered bird, the southwestern willow flycatcher, resides in the basin, which has one of the few riparian areas remaining in Arizona.[7]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Source elevation derived from Google Earth search using GNIS source coordinates.
  2. ^ a b c "Big Sandy River". Geographic Names Information System. United States Geological Survey. February 8, 1980. Retrieved March 28, 2013. 
  3. ^ a b "The National Map". U.S. Geological Survey. Retrieved March 7, 2011. 
  4. ^ a b c "Geography of the Big Sandy Basin". Arizona Department of Water Resources. December 28, 2012. Retrieved March 28, 2013. 
  5. ^ a b "Hydrology of the Big Sandy Basin". Arizona Department of Water Resources. December 28, 2012. Retrieved March 29, 2013. 
  6. ^ "Population of the Upper Colorado River Planning Area". Arizona Department of Water Resources. December 28, 2012. Retrieved March 28, 2013. 
  7. ^ "Regulators Reject Big Sandy Power Plant Proposal". The Daily Courier (Prescott, Arizona). September 16, 2001. Retrieved March 29, 2013. 

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