Disappearing Rio Grande

New? Start here.

Why Follow the Rio Grande

by Colin McDonald | Feb. 11, 2015

The Rio Grande is disappearing. Demand for water is growing as snow packs shrink, rain patterns shift and average temperatures rise faster than they ever have in the past 11,000 years.

Read more

Taking a Break, Day 41

Erich Schlegel takes a break from the drive from Cochiti Lake to Austin at Monahans Sandhills State Park. Photo by: Erich Schlegel

Erich and I are taking a break from the Rio Grande and from posting blogs for the next week. We have logistics to work on and research to do. We also need to catch up with loved ones.  I’ll be heading back to the river on Aug. 6 to meet with Pueblo leaders and ask for permission to paddle across their lands. Erich should be able to follow a few days after and we will hopefully be paddling again by Aug. 10.

Above is a photo that Erich took of himself sleeping on the sand dunes of Monahans Sandhills State Park, where we stopped on the drive from Albuquerque to Austin yesterday.

To comment on this post or ask a question, please visit the expedition's Facebook page.


To report on and understand the haphazard irrigation system the Rio Grande has become and the changes it is going through, Colin decided the best approach would be to travel the length of the Rio Grande by foot and small boat.

He knew it would give him a unique perspective on a river that few understand. It did require many long days of moving slowly and camping on muddy riverbanks, but Colin likes that sort of thing.

The benefit was it provided access to people who wanted to share their stories and experiences with the Rio Grande. Via Facebook and chance encounters, Colin made instant friends who opened their homes. They provided help from loaning their trucks to their cell phone contact lists to help tell the story of the Rio Grande.

The trip would not have been possible without their help, along with the dedicated assistance of David Lozano, Jason Jones and Daniel Dibona, who drove thousands of miles to get people and boats in place.


Jessica Lutz
Mike Kane
Project Editor
Barbara Hosler
Copy Editor
News Apps Team Lead | @rdmurphy
Google Journalism Fellow | @jessihamel
Web Designer | @been_hussln
Editor | @ATXjj