Reach (geography)

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A reach is a length of a stream or river, usually suggesting a level, uninterrupted stretch.[1] The beginning and ending points may be selected for geographic, historical or other reasons – and may be based on landmarks such as gauging stations, river miles, natural features, and topography.[2][3]

Example: Hanford Reach National Monument, Washington State, USA. The last significant free-running (undammed) section of the Columbia River in the US

A reach may also be an expanse, or widening, of a stream or river channel. This commonly occurs after the river or stream is dammed. A reach is similar to an arm. The term "reach" can also refer to:

  • An extended portion or stretch of land or water;
  • a straight portion of a stream or river, as from one turn to another;
  • a level stretch, as between locks in a canal;
  • an arm of the sea extending up into the land.

As of 2015, the US Board on Geographic Names records 334 place names in the US with the characterization of a named "reach".[4]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Macfarlane, Robert, "Landmarks", Hamish Hamilton Press, 2015
  2. ^ Hydrologic Definitions, Science in Your Watershed, USGS
  3. ^ Glossary: stream-related terms, StreamNet
  4. ^ USGS Survey GNIS Database