Triple Divide Peak, Montana

January 14, 2003


Provided by: Tom Kotynski, Great Falls Tribune
Summary author: Rod Benson

The peaks shown in the above photo are glacial horns located in Glacier National Park, Montana. These pyramid-shaped features are formed as three or more glaciers erode the sides of a single mountain. The larger horn in the background is Mt. Stimson and the smaller one near the middle is Triple Divide Peak. It was given its name because runoff from each of its three sides drains into a different body of water. Melted snow from the southwest slope flows toward the Pacific, runoff from the east slope flows toward the Gulf of Mexico, and the north face drains to Canada's Hudson Bay.

The hikers are near the ridge that separates the Hudson Bay and the Gulf of Mexico. Such an area is known as a divide. These are higher areas that separate drainage basins. The most famous divide of all, The Continental Divide (a.k.a. the Great Divide) is also shown in the photo (red dashed line).

The photograph was taken looking toward the southwest. The yellow dashed line is the divide that separates the runoff that flows into the Gulf of Mexico from runoff that flows to the Hudson Bay. The area beyond Triple Divide Peak (including Mt. Stimson) is part of the Columbia River Basin. Snow that melts in that area flows toward the Pacific Ocean.

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