December 16


8 Intriguing Adventures in the Continental Divide Trail

By Jonathan

December 16, 2022

The continental divide trail is an exciting destination that borders the Pacific Ocean on the west and the Atlantic Ocean on the East. It is the dramatic sibling in the fascinating three-crown family, alongside the Pacific Crest Trail and the Appalachian Trail.

Beautiful view of the glacier national park from the continental divide trail
Beautiful view of the glacier national park from the continental divide trail

As a seasoned or beginner hiker, you need to visit the continental divide trail, which will allow you to traverse five states; Montana, Idaho, Colorado, Wyoming, and New Mexico. The trail stretches over a distance of 3100 miles.

The continental divide is a wild mountain range that extends from the Mexican border to Canada. The continental divide trail runs along the ridges of the continental divide, and it is the remotest trail system you will ever encounter.

Expect to experience great adventure and meet many people since this trail accommodates everyone, including bicyclists, motorcyclists, and backpackers. Riding through the trail on a motorcycle takes about two weeks.

Expect to get to places where there is little to no civilization. It is not just a hike but an adventure, a wild trek that must be on your bucket list.

How to Prepare for the Adventure in the Continental Divide Trail

An elevation sign post along the continental divide trail
An elevation sign post along the continental divide trail

The Continental Drive Trail can drive you crazy if you do not plan effectively. Here are some things you should do to have a beautiful experience on the trail.

Go for Medical Checks

Some health conditions do not show unless you get a thorough body checkup. You should get checked before hiking the Continental Divide trail to rule out any health issues cropping up. Your body needs to be healthy to withstand hardships on the terrain.

Get fit

Training tips for hiking

After being cleared by your doctor, you will need to strengthen your body by engaging in rigorous physical activity. Remember you will be on the move for extended periods and you. Get into an exercise regime for the few months before the continental divide trail hike; otherwise, you will be too frail to complete the trail.

Do in-depth Research about the trail.

Get a lot of information about the Continental divide trail, including the looming challenges and the awaiting adventures. You can get this information from blogs written by other hikers, the official park website, and conversations with those who have been here before.

Get the Permits 

The continental divide trail traverses five states, each with its regulations. Get to know the permits that you will need to access different locations. Prepare in advance to save time looking for passes while on the trail.

A first-aid kit

After getting the medical checkup and working out, you still need to be prepared for any eventuality. A first aid kit will help you respond to injuries before you can call for help if needed. The kit must contain pain relievers, bandages, disinfectant, antihistamines, prescription medicine, and a sanitizer, among other necessary medical essentials. (Get one here)

Get a map and a compass. 

How to use map and compass

You should be sure of your direction while on the trail. Hiking on the continental divide trail is a long trek, and you want to maintain direction. Learn how to use the map and compass; it can be challenging for a beginner. Get as much help as you need from the guides along the trail.

Personal Items

You need comfort while on the trail, which means you should have sufficient personal effects. These include toothbrushes, toilet paper, bathing soap, body oil, a hat, sunscreen, and sunglasses.

Water Purification Chemicals 

You must drink lots of water while trekking on the continental divide trail. You might need help getting ready to drink water in the woods, but there are many sources of clear water that you can consume after purifying. It is easier to carry water filters than all the water you will need for the trip. The latter will be bulky.


It would help if you had sufficient lighting to move within the camp at night. Get a headlamp (See here) that uses batteries and can also charge using solar energy. Since you will be in the woods most of the time, it might get dark early, yet you still need to prepare food and a place to sleep. You also need a lamp to hang outside the tent to keep animals away.

Have enough food

You can only hike well through the Continental Divide Trail if you have the energy. It would help if you had more carbs and proteins in your diet. Once in a while, you will find good local food you can have for a change. Remember, you are relying on canned food throughout the trek, and a change once in a while will not hurt.


Even after planning and buying everything that you will need, cash in hand is a must. It will be helpful when you need to tip the guides and locals for the little help here and there. Also, your card can fail for some reason or even get lost when you need to pay for something urgent.

Amazing adventures on the Continental Divide Trail

A continental divide trail is a place of adventure, and there are hundreds of activities that you can enjoy. There are many reasons for you to visit this fantastic place, such as:

Adventure #1: Thru-hiking

A group of backpackers on a trail
A group of backpackers on a trail

Thru-hiking makes it to the top of our list since it is the biggest adventure you can engage in on the continental divide trail. Most seasoned hikers agree that this trail is the most challenging, but the experience that comes along is unforgettable. You can connect with the wild side of nature while enjoying the panoramic views.

For the best thru-hiking experience, we suggest you engage professional hiking planners. Because of their knowledge, they will help you through huddles that would otherwise challenge you. They will advise on the gear to buy and the best season to be on the trail and help you budget effectively.

The most adventurous route you should take is the continental divide national scenic trail. The US Forest Service decided upon the course since it runs close to the divide, is straightforward, and is mapped on GPS.

However, you can choose your adventure using alternative routes if you are an adventurous soul. You may, however, go a long distance before meeting people since this choice is rare. All courses are well-labeled, but you will still need to refer to your map to ensure you are headed the right way.

Adventure #2: Cross country Skiing and Snowshoeing

Skiers having fun
Skiers having fun

If you love winter games, you will love cross-country skiing and snowshoeing at the continental divide trail. This location that borders Lake Louise has the best snow and wide roads. You will also enjoy beautiful views while interacting with skiing champions from different parts of the world.

Anyone can enjoy skiing and snowshoeing on the continental divide trail because the elevations are relatively low. The trails are wide enough to accommodate both novice and armature skiers. Since you are out there to enjoy some adventure, there is no pressure to ski the whole trail. You can do the length that you are comfortable with.

For the best experience, get to the location early to experience the dogsleds moving across the snow. The most appropriate time for a skiing adventure is between mid-November and April.

Adventure #3: Camping

Camper’s tent set up for the night
Camper’s tent set up for the night

Camping on the continental divide trail is an epic experience you must include in your bucket list of adventures. You can access places with your four-wheelers if you only want to camp without hiking.

To have the best adventure, we suggest using the services of tour operators who will advise you on the best places to set up your camp. You can also decide to explore independently, and you will be required to get a camping permit from the park’s authority.

Be prepared to spend your night in the most uncivilized place; hence you must carry power backup at least to keep your phone on. If you choose to employ camping planners’ services, they will provide you with food and a tent. However, independent campers are required to bring all the amenities they will need.

Adventure #4: Horseback riding

A horse rider on a trail in the forest
A horse rider on a trail in the forest

Is horseback riding one of the items on your adventure bucket list? If it is, the continental divide trail is where you need to be. The conditions are favorable for horse riding in August before the snow starts falling.

Before going on the ride, you need to seek permission and guidance from the park service, who will also confirm whether the conditions at higher altitudes are safe. We recommend you ride on the horses provided by the park service because they have been tested on the terrain and found capable.

Visibility is necessary for the horse; if it is foggier, turn around and return. You want to avoid falling down a cliff because you and the horse need to see ahead clearly.

Adventure #5: Mountain biking

A rider doing a stunt on a biking trail
A rider doing a stunt on a biking trail

The continental divide trail has a designated bike riding trail, the most recognized off-road cycling route in the United States. You can plan bike packing on this trail which stretches up to 2700 miles. One thing we guarantee you is that the course will test your endurance. We recommend intermediate to expert level bikers since the experienced can be gruesome to beginners.

Once you hit the trail, be ready for an adventure of a lifetime. You will ride through river valleys, mountain wilderness in the middle of nowhere, open grassland, and the beautiful Chihuahuan desert as you exit from the Southern end.

The Tour Divide, an annual bike race, takes place here, and the participants get to ride the whole trail without outside support. They are only allowed access to public facilities, bike shops, motels, and stores.

This race commences on the second of June every year and has no entry requirements. The best completion record lies at 13 days, 22 hours, and 15 minutes.

Adventure #6: Fishing

Fishing in a creek on the continental divide trail
Fishing in a creek on the continental divide trail

Yellowstone National Park is the best place to stop and fish as you traverse the continental divide. A pass there is gentle enough to allow fish to swim as they cross from the Pacific to the Atlantic.

When you come to this point, get out your fishing rod or modify one and catch a fish. It could be your chance to change your diet from canned food. The species you are most likely to come across is trout fish at the two ocean pass, among other nonnative fish that swam into the pass many years back.

Adventure #7: Wildlife viewing

Javelina walking briskly on the trail
Javelina walking briskly on the trail

There is very little human activity along the continental divide trail, making it a comfortable habitat for wild animals. Expect to come across rare wildlife species such as the Javelinas, grizzly bears, black bears, moose, and even the fantastic bison from the nearby Yellowstone National Park.

As you move along the trail, be wary of wild horses and pronghorn antelopes which might cross your path. Bighorn sheep are also a common sight. While camping in the forests, you will hear the howling wolves at night.

As you enjoy seeing the animals, do not get carried away. Carry your caution with you and maintain a safe distance. Be very keen with the signage because some will rightly warn you of the danger of wild animals in the area. Stay away from such places.

Adventure #8: Sightseeing

A beautiful view of the peaked mountains
A beautiful view of the peaked mountains

The continental divide trail is home to a beautiful landscape. Here you will come across the most rewarding views, whether hiking, enjoying the rough ride in your four-wheel machine, or biking.

Some of the views that await you here include Mount Edwards Peak, Torreys Peak, Grays Peak, Torreys Trailhead, and Grizzly Peak, among others. Make sure you take lovely photos for keepsakes.

While in Colorado, you can enjoy the splendid view of the Rocky Mountains’1000 summits. Then there is the extraordinary view of the La Garita and San Juan wildernesses. You should also make a point to visit the millions of acres of Weminuche wilderness, where you will see the Needle Mountains and the glacial valleys.


I hope you find this guide helpful as you plan to visit and adventure on the continental divide trail. Visiting the trail for whatever reason should be fun and adventurous, and that is why I saw it necessary to share this valuable information with you.

The most important thing is you have fun while you are out there. I look forward to your comments on what you think about this article. Let’s talk in the comment section. If I have inspired you, feel free to like, share and subscribe.

About the author

My name is Jonathan J. Williams, a 36-year-old male, and hiking is my oxygen. It is my source of life. I hike on good days and bad days for relaxation and exercise. Backpacking and camping go hand in hand with camping; the three define my life. The trails and mountains keep calling at me.

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