A Rainbow of Rivers Around the World

Who Needs the Beach With Rivers Like These?

From New York's Hudson River to the aptly-named "Muddy" Mississippi, there are many rivers that don't have a great reputation, in beauty or cleanliness. 

However, if you travel across the globe you'll soon realize that rivers don't have to be ugly, let alone brown. As it turns out, rivers occur in a whole rainbow of colors, as you're about to see below.

  • 01 of 05

    Caño Cristales in Colombia

    Caño Cristales
    ••• Colombia's Caño Cristales is literally a rainbow river. Mario Carvajal via Wikimedia Commons

    The literal translation of caño cristales is "crystalline tube," or something close to it. The tangible manifestation of this phrase -- when you lay eyes upon Caño Cristales, located in the Colombian Amazon more than a day's drive from Bogotá -- is something that's nearly impossible to put into words.

    Well actually, it's quite possible. Thanks to an endemic plant known as Macarenia clavigera, the river gains a pinkish-red tint from about July-November, which combines with its usual blue-green hue to give off a perfect prism of colors: A rainbow river, if you will.

  • 02 of 05

    The Neretva in Bosnia and Herzegovina

    River Neretva and city of Mosta
    ••• The River Neretva and city of Mostar. Getty Images/Lassi Kurkijarvi

    In the two decades that have passed since the end of the conflict in the former Yugoslavia, tourism to the Balkan States has surged, to Bosnia and Herzegovina in particular. A major reason for this is the picturesque bridge in the city of Mostar -- and a major reason that bridge looks so good is the bright blue-green waters of the Neretva River, which flows directly below it.

  • 03 of 05

    Rio Celeste in Costa Rica

    Suspension wooden bridge crossing Rio Celeste river, Costa Rica
    ••• Suspension wooden bridge crossing Rio Celeste river, Costa Rica. Getty Images/Matteo Colombo

    Costa Rica is full of natural wonders, so it should come as no surprise that the country gets a nod on this list. Although the name "Rio Celeste" might evoke something to do with the night sky, it actually translates to (daytime) "Sky Blue River," which is the perfect description of this water. It's so blue you'll have a hard time believing it's real, let alone differentiating it from the azure Costa Rican sky above you!

  • 04 of 05

    Confluence of the Rhone and Arve Rivers in Switzerland

    Rhone/Arve Confluence Geneva
    ••• The combination of the Rhone and Arve is definitely more than the sum of its parts. Lucky Laura via Flickr

    If there's one continent that will disprove any assumptions about the muddiness of all rivers, it's Europe. A notable exception to this rule is the Arve River, a muddy river that flows near Geneva, Switzerland. Of course, this is Europe, so there is an exception to the exception: The confluence of the Arve and the blue-green Rhone, the contrast between which is one of the most beautiful expanses of fresh water in the world.

    Continue to 5 of 5 below.
  • 05 of 05

    The Green River in Utah

    Sunset over Green river overlook
    ••• Sunset over Green River overlook. Getty Images/Matteo Colombo

    It probably won't come as a surprise to you to learn what color Utah's Green River is. What's less expected of people who cool off from the desert heat in this body of water is how much more beautiful the green water looks when it contrasts with the extremely red desert around it. Although it's unlikely that you would find yourself here during the month of December, you'll definitely feel like it's Christmas if you're lucky enough to take a dip in the Green River.