San Benito River

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San Benito River
San Juan River [1]
Hernandez Reservoir from Laguna Mountain.jpg
The San Benito River valley and Hernandez Reservoir
Country United States
State California
Region San Benito County
 - location southeast of Santa Rita Peak in the Diablo Range.
 - elevation 4,920 ft (1,500 m)
 - coordinates 36°19′58″N 120°35′03″W / 36.33278°N 120.58417°W / 36.33278; -120.58417 [2]
Mouth mouth
 - location at its confluence with the Pajaro River.
 - elevation 115 ft (35 m)
 - coordinates 36°53′47″N 121°33′46″W / 36.89639°N 121.56278°W / 36.89639; -121.56278Coordinates: 36°53′47″N 121°33′46″W / 36.89639°N 121.56278°W / 36.89639; -121.56278 [2]
Length 109 mi (175 km)
San Benito River is located in California
San Benito River
Mouth of San Benito River

The San Benito River is a river on the Central Coast of California. From its headwaters southeast of Santa Rita Peak in the Diablo Range, it flows northwest between the Diablo Range and the Gabilan Range, traveling for about 109 miles (175 km),[3] past Hollister, California, where it turns west into the San Juan Valley where it follows the northern hills before turning north to its confluence with the Pajaro River, about 15 miles (24 km) upstream from the river's outlet in Monterey Bay. The San Benito River is longer than the Pajaro River and it drains more area, but it has proportionally lower flows. The streambed is usually dry during the summer, as the Central Coast receives almost all of its rain during the winter.

The surrounding mineral soils come from serpentine which has naturally occurring asbestos. Mining of asbestos, sand, gravel and gypsum has and continues to degrade the watershed. In portions of the river you will find homeless camps, trash, concrete, mining damage and maybe a fossil. Benitoite was first discovered in the headwaters of the river. Benitoite, was named after the county San Benito.

The river is dammed near its headwaters at Hernandez Reservoir, which was built in the early 1960s for irrigation supply and flood control. The lake has a storage capacity of 18,000 acre⋅ft (22,000,000 m3).

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Gudde, Erwin G. California Place Names: A Geographical Dictionary. Berkeley, California: University of California Press, 1949; p.298
  2. ^ a b U.S. Geological Survey Geographic Names Information System: San Benito River
  3. ^ U.S. Geological Survey. National Hydrography Dataset high-resolution flowline data. The National Map, accessed March 15, 2011