South Pass Geography

“Based on the nature of the modern landscape and its historic significance, South Pass extends west from Independence Rock to the Little Sandy Crossing, 122 miles over the old Oregon Trail or about a hundred-mile flight for a crow. . . .

Early travelers considered themselves in South Pass from the Last Crossing of the Sweetwater River until they reached the west-flowing waters of Pacific Springs west of the summit. Twenty-two miles to the northwest, fur traders (and eventually the Lander Cutoff) used an ancient Indian trail to cross the Continental Divide at a small ridge a few yards east of Little Sandy Creek. The Oregon, Mormon Pioneer, California, and Pony Express National Historic Trails crossed the Continental Divide at the southern edge of the gap in the mountains, just west of the magnificent Oregon Buttes and immediately north of Pacific Butte and the broken country of the Jack Morrow Hills.”