Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Continental Divide Interrupted

In the Teton Wilderness of northwestern Wyoming the Two Ocean Pass creates a small hole in the Continental Divide. North Two Ocean Creek flows across a ridge and then splits into two distributaries, Atlantic Creek and Pacific Creek. Atlantic Creek flows into the Yellowstone River, then to the Missouri and Mississippi Rivers, Gulf of Mexico and Atlantic Ocean. Pacific Creek goes to the Pacific Ocean via the Snake and Columbia Rivers.
This joining of waters allows fish such as the cutthroat trout to migrate across the divide, from the Snake River to Yellowstone Lake (source National Park Service.)

There are several other gaps in the Continental Divide as shown on this map. 

The areas with double red lines are endorheic basins. They do not drain externally-water flows into swamps, the ground, or it evaporates. The Great Basin (in brown above) is a large example of this. I plan to travel through there next week and may have more details about that region.

There are a couple of other places where waters cross the Continental Divide in North America. These include Divide Creek near Kicking Horse Pass in the Canadian Rockies and Isa Lake in Yellowstone National Park. Isa Lake (autocorrects to "is a lake") has streams that flow westwards to the Atlantic and eastwards to the Pacific which is totally backwards!

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