Triple the Trickle-down Effect

There’s a mountain in Montana which claims an extraordinary impact on its natural environment over an area spanning many thousands of kilometres. Triple Divide Peak isn’t especially high (2,444m or 8,020 feet) but the water which falls on its slopes flows into three oceans: the Pacific, Arctic and Atlantic.

Triple Divide Peak

Triple Divide Peak, Glacier National Park, Montana

Water which trickles down into creeks and rivers flowing from Triple Divide Peak will travel across a vast expanse of North America before finding its way to the coast from Oregon right round to the Gulf of Mexico near New Orleans.

This gives Triple Divide Peak the rare distinction of being a hydrological apex. One other is known in North America: the evocatively named Snow Dome (3,456m or 11,339 feet) which borders Jasper and Banff National Parks in Canada. Waters from Snow Dome flow into the same Northern and Western river systems as waters from Triple Divide, as well as separately emptying into the Arctic Ocean via the Athabasca River.

There is apparently some disagreement about whether Triple Divide truly sends water to the Arctic Ocean. It channels water into the North Saskatchewan River and from there into Hudson Bay, which mostly sends water to the Atlantic Ocean. But the fact that water from one single elevated point can flow to the Atlantic via both Hudson Bay in the North-East and the Gulf of Mexico a long way to the South-East (not to mention the Western outflows to the Pacific) is simply incredible.

Snow Dome

Snow Dome, Jasper National Park, Canada

To paraphrase a famous saying, the journey to three oceans begins at one mountain-top (ok, two).

Photo Credits:
Triple Divide Peak—Thomas Kriese
Snow Dome—John Johnston

Archived under Geography.

Like this post? Share it with a friend.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *