The San Juan, La Plata, and Animas Rivers have been a source of life and livelihood in the Four Corners region since before the towns had names.
Farmington, New Mexico, sits at the confluence of three rivers that both provided its early name (Totah, or “Among the Waters” in Navajo) as well as its first industry.
Beyond mere geographical features, the three rivers of Farmington, comprised of La Plata to the west, San Juan to the south, and the Animas, which flows through the city, creating the Farmington Peninsula, have life-giving properties that continue to shape Farmington’s identity and economic opportunities.
Where Does All that Water Come From?
The largest of the three is the San Juan River, a Colorado River tributary. It starts in the San Juan Mountains in Colorado and flows through New Mexico, Utah, and Arizona until it joins the Colorado River at Glen Canyon and Lake Powell Reservoir.
The Animas and La Plata Rivers are tributaries of the San Juan, meeting in Farmington, New Mexico. The Animas also starts in the San Juan Mountains before entering New Mexico, while La Plata is a 70-mile river that starts in the La Plata Mountains northwest of Durango.
The 3 Rivers Put the Farm in Farmington, New Mexico
Farmington’s first industry was farming, which was made possible by the three rivers. Irrigation ditches provided water for apple orchards, and apple harvesting soon became the region’s primary economic driver. At one point, an estimated 53,000 apple trees representing 65 varieties grew on 2,000 acres of farmland.
Today, the rivers irrigate over 150,000 acres of land in San Juan County, and about 40% of all the surface water in New Mexico flows through them, providing life to farms and people far beyond the Farmington city limits.
San Juan Regional Medical Center (SJRMC) has been providing quality personalized healthcare as the region’s only community owned and operated hospital since 1910.
The 3 Rivers Bring Beauty and Tranquility to the Present
Is work stressing you out? Go for a walk or a run along the more than eight miles of Animas River Trails. Need to feel even closer to nature? Try catch-and-release trout fishing in the Quality Waters of the San Juan River near the Navajo Dam.
Were you looking for some adventure to go along with your nature? There are multiple dedicated mountain biking trails in and around Farmington, or you can try kayaking or rafting along the Animas or San Juan Rivers.
All these opportunities to reconnect with nature on a daily basis infuse life in Farmington and the Four Corners region with a feeling of tranquility not found in many places.
The 3 Rivers as Key to Farmington’s Future
While Farmington locals know how beautiful, diverse, and awe-inspiring the Four Corners region is, the city is looking to promote these qualities to a broader audience in an effort to expand its economic base. The goal is to draw new visitors interested in outdoor recreation to the area, and keep them coming back.
Local partners, such as San Juan Regional Medical Center (SJRMC), provided a portion of the $1.2 million funding needed to create the newly-opened Among the Waters Trails, which connects the paths from the west side of Farmington to the trails to the east along the San Juan and Animas Rivers.
These public-private partnerships allow for new opportunities for economic development, introducing outdoor enthusiasts to a part of the Four Corners that they may have heard of but have yet to consider as a travel destination.
Just as the three rivers bring vital water and natural resources to areas far beyond Farmington, San Juan Regional Medical Center’s commitment to improving lives extends well beyond the borders of New Mexico into the wider Four Corners region.
Brought to you by San Juan Regional Medical Center. At San Juan Regional Medical Center, we believe in creating life better here for our community. Our goal is to provide you with the resources and tools you need to live a healthy life and enjoy the activities that make you complete.
San Juan Regional Medical Center— improving the quality of life for those we serve.
This corner of the world is our corner. Here we have chosen to live, work, and play.