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So I have just begun with world-building, and this is my first map. As you can see on the map, a small range of mountains splits from the main mountains. What I wish to have is a long river that goes from North to South, but that mountain range can be an issue (I'm not sure if it is).

The river that I have drawn goes from Night Lake in the New Mountains and end near the delta in Fiin Sea. Is it possible that a river can travel in such a way?

Map

PS I know my drawing skills are horrible

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    $\begingroup$ It's called a gorge or canyon. Here is the Danube crossing the southern Carpathians at the Iron Gates; the Olt crossing the Transylvanian Alps at the Red Tower Gorge; the Brahmaputra crossing the lofty Himalayas through the Yarlung Tsango Gran Canyon, the deepest canyon in the world. And there are very very many others. Minus one for complete lack of research. $\endgroup$
    – AlexP
    Jun 13, 2021 at 17:06
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    $\begingroup$ This does not look like Romania or Arizona.. when sea level rises in the above peninsula design, the sea could flood the entire western part including some of the valleys, and your river may simply connect to the flood and stay in existence, while the moving water mass (river+tides) causes the valley to erode. When the sea level lowers again, the river may proceed through the deepened valley. a few million years of sea level cycles - ice ages - can make the valley deeper and deeper, until it becomes a Fjord. The sea is there to stay. $\endgroup$
    – Goodies
    Jun 13, 2021 at 18:58
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    $\begingroup$ Interstate 15, Arizona, USA--It follows a river through a small mountain range. The river was there first. $\endgroup$ Jun 14, 2021 at 5:06
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    $\begingroup$ Nah, your drawing skills are good enough :). As a worldbuilding improvement, you might wish to fill in a rough topography map to help you detail heights. In art programs like Krita (it's free :) ) or photoshop (it's not free :'( ), you can add in a layer, then switch to it and try different setups without redrawing your layout, as long as you remove the white. Here, I've removed the white of your scan and rotated it for you $\endgroup$ Jun 14, 2021 at 10:11
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    $\begingroup$ @Gustavo you are too kind, my friend. Thanks a lot. $\endgroup$
    – Momobear
    Jun 16, 2021 at 14:06

4 Answers 4

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Rivers can pass through mountain ranges

Mostly they carve out a path over many, many years. Their erosive properties can make underground rivers as well. Though going straight through a large existing mountain range is more difficult. Possibly porous rock and weaker sediments allowed (over time) to create underground rivers, which eventually caused collapses and the river taking much of the debris with it over time. This can be aided by water flow down the mountain itself. Again, this is a slow process, likely making your mountains much less sharp. More like old rounded Caledonides in Norway than the young sharp Himalayas of just a few million years old.

It is also possible that the river was already there when the mountains formed. During the process of rising the river might've been waylaid several times, but kept eroding the rising ground.

You might even show this by an existing, or previously existing lake(s) just before the mountains as the flow of water was regularly reduced at the mountain. If the area has active tectonics the mountains can also still look young.

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    $\begingroup$ If the river predates the mountains, wouldn't this make more sense with a young range? $\endgroup$
    – dspeyer
    Jun 14, 2021 at 6:52
  • $\begingroup$ @dspeyer yes, over time the river'd have either cut its way through soft stone and/or started meandering to find a path around harder stone. $\endgroup$
    – jwenting
    Jun 14, 2021 at 7:00
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    $\begingroup$ @dspeyer That sounds as if you believe rivers to be younger than mountains. this is, mostly, not true. Mountains form, and erode away to nubs, and vanish. New mountains form in roughly the same region, and fade away again. Rivers keep on rivering as long as there is ocean for water, and sunlight for power. Wear on a mountaindestroys it. Wear on a river just makes it more river. $\endgroup$
    – PcMan
    Jun 14, 2021 at 7:00
  • $\begingroup$ @dspeyer exactly. I'll update it later, as I didn't make it clear. $\endgroup$
    – Trioxidane
    Jun 14, 2021 at 7:08
  • $\begingroup$ @Trioxidane I didn't give much thought to the history of the mountain and the river (Now I think I should have). However, in the story which takes place in the Spring Meadows (FYI Spring is a flower here), there is the part where the MC's rival/friend asks him to show his castle (more like a hut)—It's a game scene—before they set to their journey. The MC takes him to a small elevated plane or hill; from there, his castle was visible, as it was situated in between the trees, on the foot of that land. So, maybe Caledonies would be correct, I guess—I know little about Caledonies. $\endgroup$
    – Momobear
    Jun 16, 2021 at 0:05
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Meet the real world analogy of what you're asking for, the Danube:

enter image description here

At this point it's kind of pointless to ask or debate if it's possible because, well, there it is.

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  • $\begingroup$ without an explanation the map is not enough for people unfamiliar with the areas geology. $\endgroup$
    – John
    Jun 14, 2021 at 13:33
  • $\begingroup$ The map clearly shows the Danube rising in mountains, crossing a flatish area, crossing more uplands, crossing a broad plain, and cutting through another set of mountains. You don't need more familiarity unless you're incapable of understanding a very basic map. $\endgroup$ Jun 14, 2021 at 15:19
  • $\begingroup$ @KeithMorrison I was asleep most of my geography lecture, but I have studied enough to see that a river originates near Stuttgart, cuts three ranges and forms a small delta. It's clear to me😂😂 $\endgroup$
    – Momobear
    Jun 16, 2021 at 0:14
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Downstream must always be downhill.

The flatland north of the mountains could be a high plateau, such that the mountains are steeper but (in the passes) not actually higher.

Or the gap between individual mountains could be no higher than the flatlands. That's pretty rare, but possible with cinder-cone volcanos.

Or the river could flow through a canyon, possibly because the river predates the upthrust of the mountains.

All of these are rare. This is generally not something you'd expect to see.

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    $\begingroup$ It is more common than you imply. For example, the Rio Grande cuts through several ranges because it was there before the ranges uplifted. In some cases, the process creates some spectacular canyons such as the Santa Elena canyon. $\endgroup$
    – David R
    Jun 14, 2021 at 14:27
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Many mountain ranges throughout the world have gaps between mountain ranges where rivers flow. The gap may be the result of a major geological fault or due to stream erosion. Do the same.

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    $\begingroup$ Quite often, the river was already there when the mountains rose. As the moutains rose, the river kept eroding the valley, keeping it at (or at least near) its previous level. $\endgroup$
    – AlexP
    Jun 13, 2021 at 17:09

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