When we came across the video clip by Sam Denby of Half As Interesting, the only thing that came to mind was, “How on earth is that possible?” The intriguing story of Two Ocean Pass, nestled in the scenic landscapes of North West Wyoming’s Teton Wilderness, is a hydrologic marvel.
This unassuming creek, often overshadowed by its vast surroundings, possesses a unique characteristic. It’s the only body of water that flows into the Pacific and the Atlantic Oceans. Yep, you heard that right!
Now, when faced with the decision, most rivers and streams choose a side. They either meander their way to the Pacific or the Atlantic. But Two Ocean Pass? It defies the norm. This creek, aptly named “Parting of the Waters,” has its own set of rules.
It’s like that one song that starts slow, making you think it’s a ballad, and then hits you with an upbeat chorus out of nowhere. Similarly, waters from this creek can eventually end up in one of four destinations: The Pacific Ocean, The Atlantic Ocean, the Arctic Ocean, or the Great Basin, based on where they start their journey.
However, the journey of these waters isn’t as straightforward as you might think. The water’s destination is determined by which side of three significant divides it falls on: The Great Divide, the Laurentian Divide, and The Great Basin Divide. The complex system is influenced by gravity and the high-elevation areas these divides run through.
However, life’s never simple, is it? These divides don’t just trace a neat line across the highest peaks. They have quirks, wrapping around indoor basins and lakes like ISA LAKE, WY, and Committee’s Punch Bowl in Canada. Suppose you ever fancied spiking the waters of both the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans. In that case, you only need to spike the Committee’s Punch Bowl.
The water from the Pacific Creek takes a scenic route of about 1353 miles, eventually joining the Columbia River, which borders Oregon and Washington, before greeting the Pacific Ocean. In contrast, Atlantic Creek has its own adventure, traveling through multiple rivers, giving the nod to cities like Bismarck, Omaha, and St. Louis before mingling with the waters of the Gulf of Mexico and, finally, the Atlantic.
While we marvel at this natural phenomenon, it’s interesting to think about humans’ challenges when manipulating water flow. Ask any civil engineer about moving water across the continental divide, and you’ll see them shudder. It’s no easy task. Take Colorado, for instance. A whopping 80% of its rain falls on one side of the Continental Divide, while 80% of its population resides on the other. Yet, in its infinite wisdom, nature has a tiny creek that effortlessly does what massive infrastructures struggle to achieve.
But wait, the story gets even more fascinating. In spring, when Two Ocean Pass floods, fish from the Pacific Watershed casually swim to the Atlantic. One such traveler is the Yellowstone Cutthroat Trout, found in Yellowstone Lake. It is speculated to have made its journey some 1400 years ago through this pass.
Now, after hearing such a captivating tale of nature’s wonder, how can one resist sharing it? So, here’s a video clip that beautifully captures Two Ocean Pass’s essence. Share it with your friends and family because some stories, much like cherished memories from the past, are meant to be passed down and celebrated.