Continental Divide Trail in Wyoming: 11 Facts You Didn't Know
Sure, Wy Not? The Continental Divide Wyoming Path and 11 Fun Facts about the CDT Trail
The Continental Divide runs clean through Wyoming, as does the namesake trail, the CDT. The trail and the state of Wyoming are marked by the sparseness of population and rough terrain. As such, the Canada-to-Mexico trail winds through the upper midwest and American Southwest but is only about 70% complete, according to many hiking enthusiasts.
Both the trail and Wyoming are rough-hewn places with geography and history that meant you had to figure things out on your own. But there are also many points along the way to “peak” your interest.
Here are eleven wild facts about this chunk of the Continental Divide Trail in Wyoming.
Wyoming’s Piece of the CDT is Over 500 Miles Long
Starting in the northwest corner of Wyoming, the CDT spills down through the Western half of the Equality State. Many guidebooks and resources put the length of Wyoming’s span at 525 miles, 550, or thereabouts. But the US Forest Service lists it as 510 miles. That begins at its entry into Wyoming from Idaho to its exit into Colorado.
The Continental Divide Trail Project Is Barely a Newborn Compared to Yellowstone National Park
The CDT was added as a project in 1978 to the Department of Interior through a series of national parks and national forest acts. Yellowstone National Park, the crown jewel of this daunting hike and Wyoming’s wildlife bonanza dwarfs the trail by over a century.
In 1872, Ulysses S. Grant declared Yellowstone was “hereby reserved and withdrawn from settlement, occupancy, or sale under the laws of the United States, and dedicated and set apart as a public park or pleasuring ground for the benefit and enjoyment of the people.”
Regarding exploration, development, and conservation, America’s first national park is Senior Partner, where the Continental Divide Trail is a junior intern.
Glyph Notes: Giant Petroglyphs from First Nations Peoples
The mountainsides and boulders along this portion of the continental divide trail Wyoming and its Wind River Range are dotted with images of beetles, winged creatures, and other curious illustrations.
Dinwoody Lake and Dinwoody Canyon’s red cliffs have probably the largest natural display in Wyoming of these ancient artworks. The state’s government commissioned a PDF booklet on these artifacts. It says that the Mountain Shoshone, a nation whose homeland included the canyon, was particularly interested in birds. And this is seen in the abundance of avians in this hard-scrabble mountainous oeuvre.
The Wind River Range – Yes, It’s That Cold
Hikers going through Wyoming can clamber past seven of the ten largest glaciers in the lower 48. That same Wind River Range, a series of summits running through the CDT, contains various glaciers, such as Knifepoint and “Sphinx.”
These behemoths slowly plowed their way through the region, creating countless peaks and valleys along with much of Wyoming’s continental divide trail topography. And this wasn’t just eons ago in various “-cene” eras. The possibility exists of live glacial activity on camera! Heavy glacial activity was still ongoing long after the first European contact and didn’t stop until about the 1850s.
Hikers refer to this spot as simply “The Winds.“
How High? Three Dozen Peaks Over 13k
According to the mountaineering website Peakbagger, there are over three dozen extremely high peaks in this fun-facts-dense Wind River Range. The site lists at least 32 summits over 13,000 feet in elevation. All of them sit in this comparatively small community of mountains (Including one called “Bobs Towers“).
Rocky Mountain High Runner-Up
Colorado has the highest elevation of any state. But Wyoming is runner-up. Those thirteen-thousand-foot-high peaks raise the standard elevation for the state considerably. Colorado’s average elevation only sits 100 feet above Wyoming’s 6700 feet.
Your Third-Grade Son Will Laugh at the Maps of the CDT
There are many fun and funny names for places and features along the continental divide trail Wyoming span; it’s not just “Bobs Towers.” If you want to introduce your child to the concept of paper maps, these names might pique his interest or make him laugh.
Names of Places and Features Along Wyoming’s Continental Divide for Your Ten-Year-Old Son
- Lake Butte
- Twin Buttes
- Twin Buttes North
- Pilot Butte
- Muddy Gap
- Soda Mountain
- Popo Agie
- Biscuit Basin
- Ones he will not like: Cauliflower Geyser
Great Split of the Oceans Runs Through Continental Divide Trail Wyoming
The Continental divide splits the flow of water. This wending ribbon starts at Alaska and goes all the way down to the tip of South America. From this geographic ridge, rivers east of the divide flow into the Atlantic Ocean (or Arctic way up in Canada), and rivers to the west flow into the Pacific Ocean. This includes the numerous rivers flowing through Wyoming itself.
At Two Oceans Pass in Wyoming, the waters meet and the waters part. According to Annie Carlson with the Yellowstone National Park Center for Resources, some fish have even traveled from one side to the other and swam from the Pacific to the Atlantic.
Most Remote Spot In the 48 in Continental Divide?
Just a dash east of the Two Oceans Pass is a very remote place in Wyoming. Hawk’s Rest is arguably the most remote location in the lower 48. Southeast of Bridger Lake, a US Forest Service Cabin sits on this plateau.
The most precise estimate available about just how remote this cabin is comes from Wyoming Catholic College, which places it 21 miles from any vehicle-accessible road.
DuBois Wyoming, a Small Town Along the Trail and Its Claim to Fame
Notorious Wild West outlaw Butch Cassidy spent a winter at a ranch in this well-heeled, artsy town along the trail, according to legend.
Like most things in and around DuBois (pronounced “DOO – boyz”), there is a lot of high desert and open space. The town is only about three square miles, but the zip code, 82513, is 1444.5 square miles! That’s for a population under 2,000.
Despite its small size, it serves as one of the few Wyoming supply stops for continental divide hikers, as numerous hiking blogs and sources say.
Pony Express and The South Pass
The early pioneers made their way through the Continental Divide by way of the South Pass. The by-way goes through South Pass City in Wyoming. This go-between was, for a time, the only realistic passage for early iron-and-wood wagons to navigate the Continental Divide.
South Pass was also part of an early private mail courier system, the Pony Express. A chain of stringy adolescent boys rode horses across the country in a series of mail hand-offs. There were many stops along the upper Southwest on their way to the West Coast. Soon after this, by the 1860s, Western Union ran telegraph lines through the thoroughfare.
Continental Divide Trail: Wyoming? Why Not?
This fascinating hub of geography and history in the Equality State is just one of the spans along the Continental Divide Trail. But it’s a fascinating trek through the forest, plateau, high desert, canyon, the ancient artwork of First Nation’s peoples, and a lot of US history.
Not to mention much of the splendid and strangely fulfilling absence of things that much of the West offers.