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Rocky Mountain National Park


Continental Divide National Trail

The entire Continental Divide National Scenic Trail corridor is approximately 3,100 miles (4,988 km) long, extending from the Canadian border in Montana to the border of Mexico in New Mexico. About 1,900 miles (3,211 km) of the corridor contains existing trails or primitive routes. Considerable trip planning will be necessary to determine your specific route. The corridor varies from 4,000 feet (1,219 m) to over 13,000 feet (3,962m) elevation above sea level. Existing and proposed trails along the route traverse a variety of privately and publicly owned lands. The variety of situations encountered in the 3,100-mile corridor necessitate different land use and travel regulations and conditions.

In 1997 the route through Rocky Mountain National Park was adjusted and now consists of approximately 30 miles of spectacular scenery. In the park, the Continental Divide National Scenic Trail route does not entirely travel the actual Divide, however the most breathtaking section is above treeline, consisting of high peaks and fragile alpine tundra. Travel is through is in the montane and sub-alpine life systems at elevations of 8,000 (2,438 m) to 11,500 feet (3,505 m).

In north to south direction, the route enters the park on County Road 491. It then follows the River Trail north until it intersects with Trail Ridge Road (Highway 34) Near Green Mountain Trailhead. At this point the route follows the Green Mountain Trail east to the Tonahutu Creek Trail where it heads north and east to the junction of the North Inlet Trail. Here the route touches the actual continental divide at an elevation of 12,324. The North Inlet Trail is followed south and west to the town of Grand Lake. Once through Grand Lake, the route heads south along the East Shore Trail and exits the park at the south boundary. The route is entirely along existing, well-maintained trails.

Should you decide to travel the Continental Divide National Scenic Trail through the park for a few hours or several days, here are a few considerations:

The air is thin at these high altitudes between 10,500 feet (3,200 km) and 13,000 feet (3,962 km). Travel is slow and strenuous. Lightning danger accompanies early afternoon thunderstorms. Travel above treeline should be accomplished early in the day. Winter lasts about nine months on the Divide, from September through May. Arctic conditions prevail making travel extremely hazardous, if not impossible, during this season. Always practice Leave No Trace hiking and camping skills.

Continental Divide Map
The 'red' line shows the path of the Continental Divide



Document Information
Source: National Park Service; magazineUSA.com
Last modified: 20070426
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