To see a river form itself from a source is to witness a bit of alchemy in action. For the Snake River, this bit of wonder unfolds in a remote, northwest corner of Wyoming called Two Oceans Plateau. Water from ground and sky is pulled together into tiny rivulets by the Earth’s gravity. From seemingly nothing comes a ribbon of life.
As the Snake River descends from this rarefied patch of the Continental Divide, it grows, meandering left and right, incessantly seeking a path of least resistance. It moves south along the base of the Teton Range by Jackson, Wyoming, then back northward to pick up the Henry’s Fork in Idaho.
Traveling west through the state’s southern plain, the Snake powers hydroelectric plants, irrigates great fields of agriculture, and sustains entire wildlife ecosystems. The river skirts Boise and flows north again, through Hell’s Canyon and on to Lewiston. Finally, it moves west to Tri-Cities, Washington, where it joins the Columbia River for its last 325 miles to the Pacific Ocean.
Photographer Kirk Anderson spent four years as he calls it, “chasing the Snake,” in an effort to reveal the river through changing seasons, light and topography. “Snake River Discovered – Source to Confluence” documents over 1,200 miles of the river from the air, its banks and from the water itself. In his photo essay, Anderson shares his experience with this great river in stunning images that not only tell a story of a river, but of the West at large.