It takes its name when the Spaniards during the conquest of Mexico saw the original inhabitants of the shore of the river fishing with some artifacts like baskets which they calls " nazas" , for that reason it was known " river of nazas".
The river is the divider between the cities of Gómez Palacio in Durango and Torreón in Coahuila. The town of Torreón is named after a tower that was built in the area by Don Leonardo Zuloaga's administrator, Pedro Santa Cruz, to observe the water level of the Nazas from afar
The Nazas has served as one of the most important natural resources enabling development in the Lagunera Region since the middle of the 19th century.
All of its waters are locked in the Francisco Zarco and Lazaro Cardenas dams, both located in Durango, which have significantly reduced the once mighty flow of the river. However, the state of Coahuila gets it annual share by mutual agreement between the state governments. Indeed, on its way, it fills smaller water bodies like the Palmito dam (in Torreon, Coahuila) and the Santiaguillo lagoons. The river ends in the Mayran and the Caiman Lakes in the Tlahualilo region.
There is an amateur annual kayak competition from Rodeo to Lerdo, both towns, in the State of Durango.