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Tuesday, September 20, 2011

The Beartooth Highway - WOW!

I am a big fan of high altitude vistas.  Looking out in all directions and seeing miles and miles of valleys, mountains, lakes, and wilderness are experiences I look forward to and I remember fondly.  I take a bunch of photos even though I know the photos never do justice to the vastness and beauty that we see.

On my one and only trip to Yellowstone (so far - I plan to go back) I made plans to ride US 212 a.ka. the Beartooth Highway that connects Montana and Wyoming by way of Beartooth Pass.  The Beartooth Highway is designated an "All-American Road" which means the US Department of Transportation deems the road worthy of being a tourist destination unto itself, due to the scenic uniqueness.  Of the 120 National Scenic Byways there are only 31 roads with the distinguished All-American Road designation.
The motley crew at the state line
The  Beartooth Highway runs 66 miles from Red Lodge, MT to Cooke City, MT (northeast gateway to Yellowstone NP) crossing the MT/WY state line twice.  The 38 miles stretch between WY 296/ Chief Joseph Highway (another great road) and a point about 12 miles west of Red Lodge, MT is the most scenic, invigorating, and challenging portion of the road.
The Beartooth Highway twisting up the mountain
The road reaches an elevation of 10,947 ft. at Beartooth Pass.  Cliff hugging switchbacks, tight curves, steep grades, and mountain plateaus make for an amazing stretch of pavement.  The high elevation makes drastic weather changes a constant possibility so riders should be prepared.  When we rode up on July 15 the temperature dropped about 25 degrees from the Beartooth Highway/Chief Joseph Highway intersection to the pass and state line.  We had to stop and bundle up before we got too high.  Glad we did since it was cold and windy at the pass.
Heading towards the pass
At the pass and at the MT/WY state line we enjoyed the vast scenery.  It was amazing.  The mountain lakes were deep blue, the peaks were still snow capped, the meadows were alive and green, and the vibrant tundra stretched out around us.
 Twin Lakes 
 Beartooth Mountains
Forest and stream on west side of the pass
There is one store along the route known as the "Top of the World Resort."  You can get fuel, snacks, drinks, t-shirts, and souvenirs.  There is also a nice area with picnic tables to sit and enjoy the surroundings.  The staff was very friendly and informative.  We enjoyed a nice break on top of the world.  If one was so inclined the resort has lodging available.
Top of the World store - a great place stop
View from the store
We hit the pass around noon so the chance to see much wildlife was not good.  We were too late (or too early depending on how you want to look at it).  Once we got off the pass and was nearing Cooke City we did see some bison.
Bison roaming near the road - watch out!
The Beartooth Highway is a great All-American Road and is well worth the ride.  The beauty and the fun is intense.  If you get to that area of this great country make sure to include US 212.  You will not be disappointed.

3 comments:

  1. In my travels Yellowstone was never warm enough to make. Now with the trailer I might be able to fit it in. Grandbabies might be included. I won't tell their parents if I reattach the sidecar.

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  2. I rode BTP last year! What an incredible road! Beautiful pictures and a great post. Thanks for letting me relive it agian!

    Ride Safe!

    Jared
    UtahMotorcyclist.org

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  3. Some great photo's there....

    Tony T
    All Around The World

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