REMAINS OF A RIVER: From Source to Sea Down the Colorado


Two friends. 113 days. 1,700 miles. One endangered river. From October 2011 to January 2012, Will Stauffer-Norris and Zak Podmore hiked and paddled from Wyoming’s Wind River Mountains to Mexico following the Colorado River system from its farthest inland source to the sea, filming and narrating on the fly. The resulting film series, Remains of a River, is a story of friendship, adventure and environmental degradation.

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Zak Podmore and Will Stauffer-Norris, two recent graduates, decide to paddle the Colorado River from source to sea. From October 2011 to January 2012, hiking and paddling, they travel 1700 miles from Wyoming to Mexico. Along the way, they walk the Wind River Mountains, paddle the Flaming Gorge Reservoir, the Canyonlands, Lake Powell, the Grand Canyon, and Lake Mead. Ultimately, the mighty Colorado is reduced to a trickle and they must hike through the Mexican desert to reach the sea. As they paddle downstream, they see firsthand the environmental damage done to the Colorado River and consider the ethics of draining a wild river to support a desert civilization. The film features a few interviews with characters they meet along the way, who help shed light on the complexities of the Colorado River.

Citizen Science map with images and data

Remains of a river map
Follow along, read their BLOG.



Produced and Directed by: Will Stauffer-Norris

Format: NTSC Widescreen
Region: All Regions
DVD Release Date: March 2013
Run Time: 47 minute feature and shorts
SUBTITLES: English for 47 min version
DVD Contains: 47 min, 22 min and 3 min versions, and companion media links

Colorado Environmental Film Festival,
Reel Paddling Film Festival
National Paddling Film Festival
Wild and Scenic Film Festival

Additional information

Weight 0.32 lbs
Dimensions 9 × 6 × 0.5 in
Pricing Options

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  1. staffadmin

    Reviewed by Cliff Glaviano,
    formerly with Bowling Green State University Libraries, Bowling Green, OH

    Highly Recommended

    Recent Colorado College grads Will Stauffer-Norris and Zac Podmore travel the length of the Colorado River from its source (Green River) in the Wind River Mountains of Wyoming to the dry Colorado delta in Mexico using flotation packs, kayaks, rafts or hiking on foot as the river system allowed, documenting the Colorado as part of The State of Rockies Project. As the cinematography makes a strong statement, little is said directly concerning wilderness and recreational use of the waterway opposed to the looming threat of increased water diversion from the Colorado Rivers watershed for irrigation and water resources for Denver, Phoenix, Tucson, Los Angeles and San Diego for drinking water and urban landscaping use. One comment contrasts the need for reservoirs to supply urban water needs with the original, wilderness course of the river some 500 feet below the surface of Flaming Gorge Reservoir.
    The recreational potential of the Colorado is highlighted in Will and Zac’s rafting trip through the Grand Canyon with family and friends, views of marinas at several reservoirs, and a delightful New Year’s Eve side trip to the Las Vegas strip. The wilderness remaining along the watershed is captured through excellent cinematography by the filmmakers, who also edited their footage into a quality presentation. Following the three-way split of the Colorado to Phoenix/Tucson, to Los Angeles/San Diego, and to Yuma AZ/Mexico, the adventurers chiefly follow irrigation canals as far as Morales, Mexico where they “watch as the river turns to lettuce.” At Algadones, Baja California, the canal becomes farm runoff that burns bare skin, and ends in a swamp. The last leg is hiking across the intertidal mud flats of the Colorado delta to the Sea of Cortez. From source to sea is 113 days.

    This video is highly recommended for all interested in exploring the intricacies of water in the American West. The filmmakers acknowledge the need for water diversion for irrigation and urban use while highlighting the remaining wilderness and current recreational opportunities along the watershed. Interviews with residents who experienced life on the lower Colorado before it was dammed and diverted to a trickle add emphasis to the arguments against further diversion of the Colorado’s water. Tough decisions will need to be made in order to retain the current levels of water harvesting along the watershed let alone to restore portions of the river to more natural historic flows. The value of the Colorado watershed is explored in the film as wilderness, as recreation, as commodity irrigation and drinking water, and finally as a way of life. This is a balanced overview that invites personal involvement in the ongoing discussions on the future of Colorado River water.

  2. staffadmin

    Remains of a River is an unforgettable story of friendship, adventure and environmental degradation. At turns inspiring and alarming, these ten short works will have you laughing, marveling, shaking your head, and maybe planning an adventure of your own.
    – From NRS Films

    Thanks for documenting your expedition for us. I shared your film with my middle school science class and they loved it. It is a really compelling mix of adventure, activism and goofiness. Among other things, students now have a clearer picture of what the delta looks like as the river dries up. Really gripping footage! We are excited to see more of your latest journey done the river. Thanks
    – From Vimeo comments

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