Parting of the Waters – Moran, Wyoming - Atlas Obscura

Parting of the Waters

Moran, Wyoming

Creek water that starts here has a 50/50 chance of ending up in the Atlantic or the Pacific. 


High in the Bridger-Teton National Forest, there is a creek that splits in two. If you were a trout, you could choose between swimming down one stream to the Pacific Ocean, or down the other to the Atlantic. The place is known as Two Ocean Pass, and the exact spot is called Parting of the Waters.

About 35 miles southeast of Yellowstone National Park, Two Ocean Pass sits along a remote meadow on the Continental Divide Trail. Here, at the headwaters of North Two Ocean Creek, the terrain flattens out and the creek splits into two tributaries, the Pacific Creek and the Atlantic Creek, each heading off in opposite directions to join up with progressively bigger and bigger rivers.  

Accessible only by hike or horse, Parting of the Waters marks the start of these divergent journeys, one a 1,353 mile trip to the Pacific via the Snake and Columbia Rivers; and the other, 3,488 miles by way of the Yellowstone, Missouri and Mississippi Rivers, and finally the Gulf of Mexico to the Atlantic.

According to the National Park Service, the convergence of the two creeks creates an east-west migration route for cutthroat trout, who use it to get from the Snake River to the Missouri. Lewis and Clark tried to find this Northwest Passage. They should have just followed the fish.

Know Before You Go

Two Ocean Pass/Parting of the Waters are in Bridger-Teton National Forest in northwest Wyoming.

There are excursions (horseback and hiking) from Moran, Wyoming, about 20 miles away. Moran is at the junction of Hwy-89 and US Hwy-26, and is one of the main entrance points for the park.

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