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Continental Divide

Published online: Dec 09, 2007 Feature
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There's a string of mountains that rise gradually from Wyoming's barren Great Divide Basin in the southcentral part of the state and head northwest up into Grand Teton National Park and then Yellowstone National Park.

For much of the way, the Continental Divide is the spine of this range of mountains, where you'll find towering peaks, gnarly cliffs, rugged rock faces, forested hillsides and deep canyons with rushing waters.

This is the Wind River Mountains. Waters from the east side of the Wind Rivers flows to the Mississippi River while waters from the west flow to the Columbia and Colorado rivers.

It's also home to one of the most ambitious groomed trail systems in the United States-the Continental Divide Snowmobile Trail.

And its one heckuva place to ride.

The variety alone is almost mesmerizing. If you simply ride from one end of the 608-mile system to the other, that's a worth goal. But if you do choose that route, you'll be missing much of what the CDST has to offer. Just imagine the topography of the Wind Rivers between Point A and Point B-everything and more a sledder would want.   

There are some sledders who ride one part of the CDST and never see it all. And they're happy and content about that because of the great riding areas such as Togwotee or Dubois or north of Pinedale. Certainly it would take weeks but more like months and even years to explore the entire length of the CDST in the Wind Rivers. There's a lot of territory in there.

The CDST has flexed its muscle in the Top 15 Trails in the West for many years and has been in the top five for most of the time SnoWest has been conducting the reader survey. The CDST again finds itself at No. 2 after knocking West Yellowstone out of the No. 1 two years ago. And although SnoWest Magazine's survey focuses on the West, we think the CDST would be in the top five of any system in the snowbelt. It's big. It's bold. It's a blast.

The system begins (or ends, depending on where you start) in Lander, weaves its way through western Wyoming to Togwotee and on to Grand Teton National Park. The state of Wyoming has gone to a lot of work to mark and groom the trail so sledders have an idea where they are all the time. Making the options even more appealing is the fact, for the most part, there are services spaced all along the trail so that, if you do some planning, you'll have a hot meal when you want to, a chance to buy gas and places to lay your head at night. 

The sheer size of the CDST means there is every kind of riding available for every skill level. You can tackle part of the CDST one weekend, move on to another section the next week and so forth. Yea, it will fill up your winter.

The CDST is long on trails but not short on looks. Some of Wyoming's (or the entire West, for that matter) most impressive views come along the CDST. It's hard to beat riding with views of the Tetons or the snow laden Wind River Range as your backdrop.  Grand Teton National Park is high on the list when it comes to awesome views, mostly because of the Tetons.