Photos: Animas River aerials, May 2023

This page in our free multimedia library features aerial photos of the Animas River in southwest Colorado.

The Animas River begins high in the San Juan Mountains of southwest Colorado, flowing through Silverton and Durango before meeting the San Juan River in Farmington, New Mexico. These images were captured on May 26, 2023, the day when the river’s spring runoff peaked in Durango after a winter with a very deep snowpack in the watershed.

In 2015, a crew working at the Gold King Mine near Silverton accidentally released millions of gallons of toxic water into Cement Creek, a tributary of the Animas. The spill temporarily turned the river bright orange and led to emergency and disaster declarations as the contaminated water moved downstream.

See this video from our grantee New Mexico PBS for more on the spill’s effects and aftermath.

To learn more about the Animas River, see journalist Jonathan Thompson’s River of Lost Souls.

DateMay 26, 2023
LocationAnimas River, Colorado (map)
CreditMitch Tobin/The Water Desk with aerial support by LightHawk
RightsFree to reuse under Creative Commons license.

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