Definition- What's a Coulee?

Of all the questions I've been asked since starting this blog, the most frequent is this: What the heck is a coulee?

And the answer is, this:


And this:


And this:




It's smaller than a valley, wider than a ravine, deeper and longer than a draw. In our area they have been carved by creeks into the flat plain left behind after the massive glacial sheets of ice retreated back to the mountains at the end of the last ice age. Since the word is of French origin, I assume we have the early French Canadian trappers to thank for its prevalence, given that they were the first white men to venture into this area.

So now you now. It's not a gulch, a gulley or a gorge. It's a coulee.

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7 comments:

Laura Savage said...

I. Love. This.

No matter where I see or hear this term (which magically is a lot since I've started cyber-friending you) I think of you always and smile.

William Hamrick said...

Just make sure you don't get your outfit stuck at the bottom

Kari Lynn Dell said...

Been there, done that, have the broken tie rods to prove it.

jersey guy said...

Hearing the term coulee takes me back to my years in Montana working as an oil well formation technician. I've worked many a rig in many a coulee from Cut Bank to Roundup, Judith Gap to Plentywood. I love Montana, though I'm a native of the NYC area in Jersey (I'm 73).

Kari Lynn Dell said...

Jersey guy: Do you miss the wind too? Plenty of it in all the places you mentioned!

Kari Lynn Dell said...

Some day I will learn how to operate my own blog. In the meantime see my ever so witty reply below. Or above. Argh.

Doug Renick said...

Thanks for your help.