This Earthcache will place you at Targhee Pass in the Henry’s Lake Mountains on the Idaho-Montana border.
A continental divide is a topographic boundary, usually along an elevated terrain but not always the highest. Precipitation (rain/snow) that falls on one side of this boundary will drain downhill into a body of water such as a river, lake, reservoir, sea or ocean. Precipitation on the other side will go downhill on that side.
The divide is not permanent, it can change due to tectonic forces, isostatic adjustments of the earth crust, and climate forces can alter drainage patterns or block outlets.
There are four distinct continental divides in North America:
The Great Divide
The Northern Divide
The Eastern Divide
The St. Lawrence Seaway Divide
The Great Divide is the one most of us think of as The Continental Divide. This is the longest of the divides, starting at Cape Prince of Wales Alaska and ends at Tierra del Fuego near the southern tip on South America. In North America, the Great Divide mainly runs North to South and separates Westward drainages headed towards the Pacific Ocean or the Sea of Cortez from the Eastern drainages headed towards the Atlantic Ocean and Gulf of Mexico.
The Divide enters the United States in Montana following along the crest of the Rocky Mountains. It makes up part of the Montana-Idaho border and then goes through Wyoming and Colorado. It continues south and exits the United States at the boot hill of New Mexico.
The Great Divide can provide some breathtaking scenery from high mountain peaks in Montana, Wyoming, Colorado, to lava beds and somewhat flatlands of New Mexico. The Divide goes through Glacier National Park, Yellowstone National Park, Rocky Mountain National Park, and the El Malpais National Conservation Area.
The coordinates listed will take you to a pull-off at the Idaho-Montana border where you will find a sign welcoming you to Idaho. Also, on that sign is a smaller sign that lets you know you are on the Continental Divide.
Note 7/2019: It appears that folks have been placing stickers on the Continental Divide sign and the elevation may not be clearly visible. It should read 7,072 feet.
Post a picture of you/your group next to the sign with your GPS. If possible show the elevation that your GPS is showing. (optional)
E-mail me the answers to these questions:
1. Based on the elevation showing on your GPS, does it match that of the sign? If not what do you think might be the geologic reason?
2. What would be a better title for the Continental Divide sign? (Hint: What is the topic of this Earthcache?)
3. Precipitation that falls in Idaho will go towards which Ocean/Gulf?
4. Look at the terrain around you (North and South). Does it look like the Divide is following along the highest elevation in this area or not?
Be sure that you provide your e-mail address when you send the answers to the above questions so that I can respond to your answers faster. I will respond to all, as I feel it is an important part of owning an Earthcache.
Gonzalez, Mark A., Summer 2003, Continental Divides in North Dakota and North America: North Dakota Geological Survey Newsletter, v. 30, no. 1.
Lambert, David, and The Diagram Group, The Field Guide to Geology, New Edition, Checkmark Books, 2007
The National Atlas of the United States:
Congratulations to Team GCHound on their FTF on June 16, 2008!
They came all the way from Indiana.