Beartooth Scenic Highway

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The Beartooth Scenic Highway opened to automobile travel in 1937, and is a National Scenic Byway, 68 miles in length winding through southwest Montana and northeast Wyoming. We left West Yellowstone early to avoid the traffic in Yellowstone and drove through the Park to the northeast entrance at Silver Gate where we stopped at the Log Cabin Café for a fabulous lunch. Then on to Cooke City where we went through the Cooke City Montana Museum that opened in July, 2014. It presents permanent exhibits on the history of the three communities of Colter Pass, named after the famous mountain man John Colter, Cooke City, and Silver Gate as well as exhibits on the Beartooth Highway. Not much else to see in Cooke City so we drove on over Colter Pass where we happened upon a black bear by the side of the road. Then we came to the sign marking the beginning of Beartooth Highway, it has been called “the most beautiful drive in America”, and the pass is usually open each year only from mid May through mid October, because of heavy snowfall at the top.

En route we passed numerous lakes typical of the Absaroka-Beartooth Wilderness Area, which we hope to backpack through at sometime. We stopped at the Top of the World Store at 9,400’ elevation, that was originally built on Beartooth Lake in 1934 then moved to this location in the 1960’s. The road had series of steep zigzags and switchbacks, and then levels off into a wide plateau  near the top of the pass at 10,947’ elevation, with spectacular panoramic views in every direction. We had a wonderful clear view of the Bear’s Tooth, a pyramidal spire rock formation carved by glaciers and the namesake of the Beartooth All-American Road. Click on thumbnail to view images

Nestled against Montana’s highest mountain peaks, Red Lodge is a place of extraordinary beauty and genuine warmth and a welcoming, Western-style hospitality that we experienced walking through the town.  Didn’t stay long as we had a long drive back to our RV but this is a town we would come to explore again. On the way back we saw large herds of buffalo and some elk as we passed through Yellowstone and were greeted with a fantastic sunset to end our fabulous day on the Beartooth Scenic Highway. Click on thumbnail to view images