The Continental Divide is a geologic wonder within the Rocky Mountains. The western slope drains into the Pacific Ocean while the eastern slope drains into the Atlantic Ocean.
What is the Continental Divide?
The Continental Divide, also known as the Great Divide, is one of the most iconic and essential mountain ranges in the Americas, dividing the continents in half and extending all the way from the Cape Prince of Wales in Alaska to the Strait of Magellan at the southernmost tip of South America. And lucky for us, the Continental Divide cuts right through Grand County, Colorado, delivering some of the most majestic views in the state.
The Continental Divide is a natural wonder with a great deal of ecological importance. Situated within the Rocky Mountains, it serves as a crucial hydrological division, delineating the watersheds of the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. Moreover, it plays a pivotal role in the water resources of the region and the broader American West. The meltwater from these towering peaks feeds into the headwaters of the Colorado River, a vital water source for agriculture, municipalities and industries across the state and beyond.
Things to Do on the Continental Divide
Grand County’s section of the Continental Divide boasts elevations exceeding 12,000 feet, making it a sought-after spot for outdoor exploration For a challenge, backpacking across the Great Divide is an unforgettable way to see it all by foot, with trail options ranging from 3 to 100 miles, offering meadowy valley views and dramatic summit landscapes. Whether you're a hiker, biker or winter sports-lover, the Continental Divide's influence on Grand County's landscape offers pristine alpine lakes, challenging trails and world-renowned skiing destinations.
If you want to experience all the drama and beauty of the mountain range without the huffing and puffing, try a scenic drive on Trail Ridge Road in Rocky Mountain National Park. This route is the highest continuous road in the country and holds the highest byway distinction. It's an all-American icon and an unforgettable experience here in Grand County.
The region is also habitat to an abundance of wildlife — from elk and mule deer to the iconic Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep and moose. So, bring your binoculars and see if you can spot some yourself. Just remember the “rule of thumb,” if you can cover the animal with your thumb, you’re at a safe distance.