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Given that rivers have been a vital part of human activity for millennia, it’s about time that these flowing bodies of water got a day where they are given the love and appreciation they deserve. National River Day is here to bring some attention to the benefits that rivers continue to offer humans and also to remind people that rivers are natural resources that need to be taken care of! 

History of National River Day

Bodies of fresh waters, especially rivers, have been foundational in the development of human civilization. With the necessity for people to live very near a water source, the flow of rivers has often been one of the most important factors in determining where a family or larger community could settle. Providing a supply of steady drinking water as well as opportunities for keeping crops watered and even allowing for transportation and trade.

Sometimes quiet and sometimes ferocious, rivers offer not only sustenance for life, but they also provide opportunities for outdoor recreation. From fishing and canoeing to white-water rafting and stand-up paddle boarding (SUP), rivers can be sources of entertainment, exercise, and just a heap of good old fun! Just be sure to treat the water and the area surrounding the river with respect by protecting it from pollution and misuse.

Today, due to various issues including climate change and human interference, the water sources of the planet, including oceans, seas, lakes and rivers, are becoming compromised. Through pollution or by simply drying up, many of the world’s rivers are less healthy and less bountiful than they were even just a few years ago.

National River Day has been established to raise awareness about and show appreciation for the vital, life-giving source that rivers all over the planet!

National River Day Timeline

350 Million years ago 

Oldest Known River 

The Finke, in Central Australia, is believed to be the oldest river in the world.

10,000 BC

Mississippi River is formed 

A very important river in the US, the Mississippi is formed when glaciers from the last Ice Age recede.[1]


Nationwide Rivers Inventory (NRI) begins 

This effort to understand the ebb and flow of the rivers throughout the US comes about through the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act.[2]


Big River hits Broadway

This 10x Tony award winning musical hits New York’s Broadway to tell the story of Mark Twain’s Huckleberry Finn.[3]


Euphrates and Tigris rivers show signs of drying up

Satellite images show some of the lowest levels in human history for these important rivers in the Middle East.[4]

How to Celebrate National River Day

Pay some respect to the rivers of the world on this important day! In celebration of National River Day, show some love and get involved by implementing some of these ideas:

Learn About the World’s Rivers 

Get excited and involved with National River Day by getting educated about some of the most interesting rivers in the world. Raise awareness for this important day by learning and sharing some fun facts in person with friends and family, or on various social media outlets.

Check out some of these fascinating facts about rivers to get started:

  • Found in North Africa, the Nile river is considered to be the longest river in the world, measuring more than 4,100 miles long, flowing through eleven different countries. The Amazon river comes in a close second, at 3,977 miles.

  • In 2007, a Slovenian born marathon swimmer, Martin Strel, swam the entire Amazon river – complete with crocodiles, piranhas and more.

  • Rivers that run over cliffs eventually lead to stunning waterfalls. The highest one in the world is Angel Falls in Venezuela, measuring 3,212 feet high.

  • Rivers not only provide sustenance for humans, but thousands of different varieties of animals, plants, and at least 10,000 different species of fish.

Organize a River Clean Up

An excellent way to get involved with National River Day would be to grab a group of friends or some members of a volunteer organization in the community and head on over to a local river to do some cleaning up. Equipped with garbage sacks, trash sticks and rubber gloves, this would be a great time for a group of folks to spend some time picking up trash, debris, and litter. This is particularly important in regards to items made of plastic that will never biodegrade and can even be poisonous to the water source and the animals that depend on it.

Watch a Movie Featuring a River

Show some love to the life-giving rivers of the world by checking out a movie or film that features one. Get started with one of these:

  • A River Runs Through It (1992). This one features Brad Pitt, playing the son of a rural minister (Tom Skerritt), where they spend time fly fishing on the river.
  • The River Wild (1994). This thriller starring Meryl Streep and Kevin Bacon takes place almost entirely on a whitewater rafting river adventure.
  • Riverdance: The Animated Adventure (2021). Kids and adults alike will enjoy this animated film which teaches an appreciation of this dance as a celebration of life.
  • Green Days in the River (2014). This coming of age tale tells the story of a boy in a 1952 village who struggles with poverty, love and life.

Make Some Sustainable Water Choices

One of the best ways to get involved with National River Day might be to make some choices that will help to reduce the use of water personally and in the local area. Check out some of these important ways that households can live more sustainably and conserve water:

  • Install Low Flow Shower Heads. Use less water by installing modern shower heads in every bathroom in the house. It’s possible to save up to 3,000 gallons of water or more each year!
  • Collect Rainwater. Those folks who live in places where they need to water their garden or lawn can save on water by collecting it in a rain barrel and then using it as needed. Folks in Colorado or Utah may want to check with local legislation first to see if this is permitted.
  • Turn Off Faucets. Instead of letting the faucet run in the bathroom while brushing teeth or in the kitchen while walking over to the refrigerator and back, shut the water off every single time.
  • Save Water with Flushes. A new dual-flush toilet or a conversion kit for a current toilet allows less water to flow for flushes.

Join a Conservation Group

Many different conservation organizations are working to keep rivers clean or to clean them up after they have been polluted. They advocate with government agencies and companies to change laws that work to protect natural areas, including rivers. In honor of National River Day, join in by volunteering with a local group.

Those who feel like celebrating this unique waterways at another time of the year should look into World Rivers Day, which takes place in late September.  

National River Day FAQs

Where is Virgin River filmed?

Virgin River is a Netflix show filmed mostly in Vancouver, British Columbia in Canada.

Is the Euphrates river drying up?

A vital water source in western Asia, the Euphrates river is drying up due to climate change.[1]

What is the longest river in the world?

At more than 4,100 miles, the Nile is the longest river in the world.[2]

Where does the Mississippi River start?

The Mississippi River starts as a trickle from Lake Itasca in Minnesota and flows there all the way to the Gulf of Mexico, south of New Orleans.[3]

Who is in A River Runs Through It? 

This 1992 film featured Brad Pitt, Tom Skerritt, Joseph-Gordon Levitt and many others.

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