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The Continental Divide Trail - the Photography of Leland Howard

NOTE: this exhibit appeared in June 2000. Click here to visit the current showcase.

All other exhibits: Click here to access

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Moon & Fog

East of the Anaconda-Pintler Wilderness, the Continental Divide Trail crosses the Mount Haggin Wildlife Management Area. At these lower elevations, stands of aspen and conifers are punctuated with islands of sagebrush and grassy meadows.

Limber Pine Stump

A weathered alpine spruce stump bears witness to the extreme weather conditions on the crest of the Divide near Bannock Pass. Higher peaks of the Beaverhead Mountains of the Bitterroot Range can be seen in the background.

Bear Hat Mountain Reflection

Bearhat Mountain, near Logan Pass in Glacier National Park, is reflected in numerous shallow tarns and in Hidden Lake. At this northerly latitude, near the Montana/Canada border, treeline is at about 6,000 feet. Krummholz (stunted and twisted trees) eke out an existence wherever the terrain is less steep and rocky.

Bitterfoot Range

On the windswept ridge of the Continental Divide, south of Morrison Lake in the Beaverhead Mountains, an afternoon storm clears in late August. The mountain range in the background is Idaho's Lemhis.

Desert Paintbrush & Lupine

Arrowleaf Balsamroot, Indian Paintbrush and other wildflowers grace a ridge above Blair Lake in the Centennial Mountains, on the approach to Taylor Mountain.


Sunrise and low-lying clouds in the Boulder Mountains paint a picture worthy of a master water-colorist. This photo was taken about two miles east of Champion Pass in the Deerlodge National Forest, north of Butte, Montana.


This unnamed and seldom-seen waterfall is near Pete Creek on the Continental Divide in the Centennial Mountains. The Centennail Mountain Range runs east/west for forty miles, forming the border between Idaho and Montana from Red Rock Pass to Monida Pass.

Lions Head Peak

It may be July, but at 10,000 feet, snowfields still decorate the high ridges near Targhee Peak in the Henrys Lake Mountains. This range forms an arc of the Continental Divide that links the Centennial Mountains with the Yellowstone Plateau.

Hope Lake

Hope Lake in the Anaconda-Pintler Wilderness emerges from a blanket of clouds at sunset. The Continental Divide Trail passes within fifty feet of this viewpoint, but trekkers will never know it is there unless they keep track of their position on a topographical map and climb a few feet to the ridgeline.

Lemhi Pass

Sunset as seen from the Continental Divide just south of Lemhi Pass. This is where Lewis and Clark crossed the Rocky Mountains twice. On their westward trek, they thought this 7373 foot pass would give them direct access to the Columbia River drainage, but were discouraged by the view of Idaho's Lemhi Range, whose snow-covered peaks posed yet another challenge.

Little Lake

At Little Lake in the Beaverhead Mountains, the first week of August is springtime and Lewis' Monkeyflowers line the stream banks. The leaves of this plant are edible as salad greens and hummingbirds sip nectar from the deep blossoms. In late afternoon light, Homer Youngs Peak reflects in the lake.

Lupine on Ridge

In the Beaverhead Mountains of the Bitterroot Range, it is possible to walk the actual Continental Divide above Jahnke Lake, but steep cliffs prevent a safe descent to Montana's Big Hole Valley. The hiking trail swings below this alpine terrain, where coulters lupine and other wildflowers form a foreground for snowcapped peaks.

Lupine close-up

This close-up view of lupine flowers highlights the starry beauty of the leaves. "Lupus" is Latin for "wolf", a reference to folk tales that credited the lupine with wolfing up nutrients from the soil, an idea since proven to be false. However, lupine is toxic to livestock. Lupine blooms from June to August along much of the Montana and Idaho Continental Divide Trail.

Sunset over Centennial Range

A fiery sunset blazes over Montana's Centennial Valley. The Continental Divide National Scenic Trail follows the crest of the Centennial Mountains that border this valley.

Dead Limber Pine

A lone tree stands sentinel over Meyers Hill near Dana Spring. This photo was taken in the evening light, looking eastward toward Marysville, Montana in the Helena National Forest.

Note: For best viewing, set your monitor to High Color or True Color (Thousands or Millions of Colors on MacOS) and at least 800x600 pixels. These images have been carefully prepared with a Gamma of 2.2 using the BruceRGB color space, which works well with most high-quality Windows monitors. If you use MacOS, choose a 2.2 calibrated Colorsync profile in Monitors/Color/Prefs or choose "Windows Default" in the Adobe Gamma control panel.

Copyright Notice: All photographs appearing on this page and direct links are the COPYRIGHTED PROPERTY of Leland Howard, and available for usage by license only. No form of reproduction or manipulation, including copying or saving as a digital file is permitted. Any unauthorized usage of these images will be prosecuted to the full extent of the U.S. Copyright Law.

About the Exhibit:

The Continental Divide is an 8,000 mile long geological uplift that forms the backbone of the North American continent, running from Alaska to the Panama Canal. It separates the land mass into the major watersheds of the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. The Continental Divide National Scenic Trail follows about 3,200 miles of the Divide as it meanders through the United States.

The Montana/Idaho segment of the trail is unique. It crosses the only wilderness areas in the lower 48 states that are prime grizzly bear habitat, and human traffic is virtually nil in many sections. Some areas are little changed since Lewis and Clark explored them in 1805.

Brother and sister team, Leland and Lynna Howard, hiked more than a thousand miles to complete a photographic and prose record of the Montana and Idaho Continental Divide Trail. Leland's photographs capture the gift of open spaces; of glacier-carved crags that push the trail down into valleys; and of stony passes on windswept ridges that hikers share with hawks and eagles.

About the Photographer:

Photographer, Leland Howard, goes the extra mile, both literally and figuratively, to capture images for his books, calendars, magazines articles, postcards, and stock photography.

Leland has a lifelong background of wilderness exploration and photography. He makes his living as a professional photographer, specializing in fine art nature photography. Leland's credits include such diverse publications as The National Geographic Society, The sierra Club, Sierra Publishing, PhotoGraphic, Healthy Planet, Westcliffe Publishers, Northwest Publications, and Brown Trout.

You can see more of Leland's images or buy the CDT books, from his web site:

Drop him an e-mail at to show your appreciation of his work.
Find photos of the Colorado Plateau in Land of the Canyons, the Photo Trip USA landscape photography guide book.


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