- continental divide
1. a divide separating river systems that flow to opposite sides of a continent.2. (caps.) (in North America) the line of summits of the Rocky Mountains, separating streams flowing toward the Gulf of California and the Pacific from those flowing toward the Gulf of Mexico, Hudson Bay, and the Arctic Ocean.[1865-70, Amer.]
* * *Most notable watershed of the North American continent.The mountains comprising it extend generally north-south, thus dividing the continent's principal drainage into waters flowing eastward (e.g., into Hudson Bay in Canada or the Mississippi River in the U.S.) and waters flowing westward (into the Pacific Ocean). Most of the divide runs along the crest of the Rocky Mountains, through British Columbia in Canada and through the states of Montana, Wyoming, Colorado, and New Mexico in the U.S. Its central point is Colorado, where it has many peaks above 13,000 ft (3,962 m). It continues southward into Mexico, roughly paralleling the Sierra Madre, and into Central America.
* * *▪ mountain ridge, North Americafairly continuous ridge of north-south–trending mountain summits in western North America which divides the continent's principal drainage into that flowing eastward (either to Hudson Bay in Canada or, chiefly, to the Mississippi and Rio Grande rivers in the United States) and that flowing westward (into the Pacific Ocean). Most of the divide runs along the crest of the Rocky Mountains, through British Columbia and along the British Columbia–Alberta border in Canada, and through the states of Montana, Wyoming, Colorado, and New Mexico in the United States. It continues southward into Mexico and Central America, roughly paralleling the Sierra Madre Occidental and the Sierra Madre del Sur, with their associated ranges in Central America. In general usage the name continental divide is applied to the main water parting in any continent.
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