Follow the Water

Credit: Platte Basin Timelapse project

Follow the Water
By Katie Nieland, Center for Great Plains Studies

At the end of January, I attended a screening of the documentary Follow the Water from NET about photographer Michael Forsberg and filmmaker Pete Stegen’s 1,300-mile trip through the Great Plains following the watershed of the Platte River.

The 55-day journey includes storms, rescues, snow, and prairie, but the packed house at the screening indicates the idea of exploring the Great Plains through a waterway resonates. Earth Day—Monday, April 22—is the official PBS broadcast date for the program, check your local station for times. You can also see an 8-minute story about Mike and Pete’s river journey see River of Surprises:

There are several ecotourism providers we’ve highlighted on our site who offer different ways to explore rivers.

What makes Great Plains rivers special?

Around half of the rivers of the region start in the Rocky Mountains, including the Platte River. They pick up water from snowmelt and springs along their way from west to east. Rivers traveling west to east usually gain water volume as they go. Some important river systems of the Plains include the North and South Saskatchewan Rivers, the Assiniboine, the Missouri, the Yellowstone, the Platte, the Kansas, the Arkansas, and the Red River. Within each of these systems, hundreds of tributaries, and creek create a pattern of water systems. (Great Plains Encyclopediaollow-water