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Santa Ana River: Map

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The Santa Ana River begins in San Bernardino County, Californiamarker, in the San Bernardino National Forestmarker. Its highest source lakes are Dollar Lake (9,220') and Dry Lake (9,065'), both on the northern flank of San Gorgonio Mountainmarker (11,499') in the San Gorgonio Wildernessmarker. Its watershed areas above an elevation of 8,500', which occupy a substantial portion of the watershed, receive the majority of precipitation in the form of snow. After traveling nearly through San Bernardino, Riversidemarker, and Orangemarker Counties, it eventually reaches its terminus between Newport Beachmarker and Huntington Beachmarker where it spills into the Pacific Oceanmarker. Despite much of the river being channelized in recent times, it still represents one of the largest river systems in Southern California.

Santa Ana River Tributaries

Due to Southern California's dry climate, dam control, and confiscation by local water agencies, very little water flows throughout the year. However, the Santa Ana River is prone to flooding in wet seasons. The Army Corps of Engineers considers it to be the greatest flood hazard west of the Mississippi River. It produced devastating floods in 1862, 1938, and 1969.

The 1938 flood was caused by heavy rains in the area that started on February 27, 1938. The river spilled over its banks on March 3, sweeping away cars, homes, and bridges, including Pacific Coast Highway. A total of 2000 people were left homeless and 19 people perished. As a result of this flood, the Prado Dammarker was built near Coronamarker in 1941. Officials in Orange Countymarker felt further protection was needed. The Seven Oaks Dammarker was completed in 1999, located a few miles north of Redlandsmarker.

In early 2005, Southern California experienced one of its wettest periods in recent history, which placed unusual stress on the Santa Ana River system. Prado Dam, which was under construction for expansion at the time, seeped water, and residents of the local communities of Corona and Yorba Lindamarker were evacuated as a precaution. The dam was damaged, but there was no major flooding as a result, and evacuated people were soon allowed to return.

A recreational bicycle trail runs along the river some , from Prado Dam near Corona to the Pacific Ocean. Other partial trails exist along the river. In Riverside County, a recreational path runs through the Hidden Valley Wildlife Area.
Image:Santa Ana River (North) Eastvale.jpg|
The Santa Ana River at the River Road bridge at the Eastvalemarker/Norcomarker border in Riverside County, Californiamarker looking upstream.
Image:Santa Ana River Mouth2.jpg|
The Santa Ana River mouth.
Image:Santa Ana River and Path.jpg|
A recreational path along the Santa Ana River near the mouth looking upstream.
Image:Mill Creek drainage, San Bernardino National Forest.jpg|
Mill Creek from Santa Ana River Trail.
San Bernardino National Forestmarker.
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