Parting of the Waters

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Topographic map showing Two Ocean Pass and the Continental Divide (green)[1]

Parting of the Waters is an unusual hydrologic site at Two Ocean Pass on the Great Divide, within the Teton Wilderness area of Wyoming's Bridger-Teton National Forest. Two Ocean Pass separates the headwaters of Pacific Creek, which flows west to the Pacific Ocean, and Atlantic Creek, which flows east to the Atlantic Ocean. At Parting of the Waters, at 44°02.571′N 110°10.524′W / 44.042850°N 110.175400°W / 44.042850; -110.175400Coordinates: 44°02.571′N 110°10.524′W / 44.042850°N 110.175400°W / 44.042850; -110.175400,[2] North Two Ocean Creek flows down from its drainage on the side of Two Ocean Plateau and divides its waters more-or-less equally between its two distributaries, Pacific Creek and Atlantic Creek. From this split, Two Ocean Creek waters flow either 3,488 miles (5,613 km) to the Atlantic Ocean via Atlantic Creek and the Yellowstone, Missouri and Mississippi Rivers, or 1,353 miles (2,177 km) to the Pacific Ocean via Pacific Creek and the Snake and Columbia Rivers. In the marshy area of Two Ocean Pass adjacent to Parting of the Waters, water actually covers the Continental Divide such that a fish could swim from the Pacific Ocean to the Atlantic Ocean drainages. In fact, it is thought that this was the pass that provided the route for Yellowstone cutthroat trout to migrate from the Snake River (Pacific) to Yellowstone River (Atlantic) drainages.[3][4]

This site received designation as a National Natural Landmark in 1965, bearing the official name of Two Ocean Pass National Natural Landmark. However, Parting of the Waters, by which this site is more commonly known, is actually located about 0.4 miles (0.64 km) northwest of the low point of Two Ocean Pass, where North Two Ocean Creek emerges from its drainage basin on the side of Two Ocean Plateau.

Inasmuch as North Two Ocean Creek splits into streams which flow separately to the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, the entire drainage of North Two Ocean Creek lies within an area that makes up the "Continental Divide" at this place. Note: the following citation declares that South Two Ocean Creek exhibits this same "area" phenomenon, but that aspect of the cited material appears to be an error, as water flowing down this creek has no split and generally flows only to the Atlantic Ocean. [5]

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References[edit]

  1. ^ Modified portion of the Two Ocean Pass Quadrangle, Wyoming-Teton Co. USGS Topographic Quadrangle, 1996: Note the 1996 quad does not show a split in the continental divide; however both the 1959 Two Ocean Pass, Wyoming 15 minute quadrangle and the 1982 Yellowstone National Park South, Wyo. 30x60 minute quad do show a split in the continental divide which includes the drainage basins of both North Two Ocean Creek and South Two Ocean Creek. The divide split is 8.7 kilometres (5.4 mi) in length.
  2. ^ Two Ocean Pass, Wyo, 7.5 Minute Quad, US Topo, USGS, 2012
  3. ^ "NPS: Explore Nature » NNL » Sites". Nature.nps.gov. 2012-06-28. Retrieved 2015-02-24. 
  4. ^ "The Popular science monthly". Archive.org. Retrieved 2015-02-24. 
  5. ^ Both the USGS 1959 Two Ocean Pass, Wyoming, 15 minute quadrangle and the 1982 Yellowstone National Park South, Wyo., 30x60 minute quadrangle show a split in the continental divide which includes the drainage basins of both North Two Ocean Creek and South Two Ocean Creek. The divide split is 8.7 km (5.4 mi) in length.

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