Five Rivers, Five Voices

Original Airdate: 
April 2012

Across a vast landscape, rivers cut to the very heart of life in the American West.

Some are wild, some harnessed by man. Some inspire and renew us, others stand as boundaries and battlegrounds.

Meet remarkable individuals who define their lives through five remarkable rivers. In his latest film, Five Rivers Five Voices, John Howe tells the story of five great American rivers and the evocative voices that define them.

A river trip on the Salmon River's Middle Fork is one of the most sought-after white water river adventures. KUED travels down the Middle Fork through one of the country's great wilderness areas, the Frank Church Wilderness Area, with river guide Codye Reynolds. Robert Redford also speaks eloquently concerning the wilderness experience.

The Yellowstone River flows through the heart of America's first national park, often called "America's Serengeti." It's the artery of a region that holds great migrating herds of elk and bison and is home to predators like grizzlies and wolves. Great, tumbling falls on the river have inspired countless painters and photographers. Contemporary photographer Thomas Mangelsen is one of the world's premier nature photographers, known for his work in Yellowstone, the Arctic and Africa.

Flowing through Big Bend National Park is a river of two countries, the Rio Grande. This controversial southwestern river serves as a fluid border between Texas and Mexico. Hispanic river guide Ernesto Hernendez Morales tells emotional stories of the river and a fragile landscape of spectacular beauty.

The San Juan, with its striking goose-neck features, may be Utah's prettiest river. The river snakes through a red rock paradise of hoodoos and spires, on most days running red like the earth around it. Near the river are archeological treasures. On canyon walls, ancient stories are chiseled in rock. Terry Tempest Williams, perhaps the West's best-known naturalist and writer, has long been inspired by this area of the West.

The lifeblood for many cities of the West, the Colorado River starts as a trickle of snow melt in Rocky Mountain National Park. Martin Litton is an environmental giant who stood with the best of his generation -- the likes of David Brower and Wallace Stegner. His passion is the Grand Canyon. One of the Colorado River's most vociferous protectors, Litton supported David Brower in his quest to prevent more dams from being built on the river. Litton pioneered the use of wooden dories in the Grand Canyon and started his own river running company that ran commercial river trips through the canyon. Sleek and beautiful, each of his dories bears the name of an environmental disaster. In most years, because of many uses, the river runs dry in the sands of Mexico before ever reaching its historic delta.

56 minutes
Closed Caption: 
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