Wyoming is home to many lakes that are all unique in their own way. However, there’s one lake in Wyoming that is like no other lake in the world. It not only has one unique feature, but two.
Isa Lake is located in Yellowstone National Park. It lies halfway between Old Faithful and West Thumb Geyser Basin on Grand Loop Road.
The lake was first discovered by Hiram M. Chittenden in 1891. He ran across this lake while exploring the best routes between Old Faithful and West Thumb.
Chittenden named the lake after a woman from Cincinnati. Her name was Miss Isabel Jelke. It's not known who she was or why the lake was named after her.
The lake actually straddles the Continental Divide at Craig Pass. The only way to distinguish the Continental Divide from other mountain ridges is by the water flow which is what makes Isa Lake so special.
As is the case with most lakes in Wyoming, the mountain snow melts and the runoff fills up this small narrow lake causing something very unusual to happen.
It causes the lake to drain in a very unique way. Isa Lake is the only natural lake in the world that drains into two different oceans.
The western end of the lake flows to the Atlantic via the Firehole River, to the Missouri and Mississippi Rivers and then on to the Gulf of Mexico. The east end runs into Shoshone Lake, on to Lewis, Snake, and Columbia Rivers and on to the Pacific.
Not only is Isa Lake the only natural lake in the world that drains to two oceans but it also has another unique feature. It drains backwards since the Atlantic Ocean is actually east of the lake and the Pacific Ocean is to the west.