There’s beauty around every bend of the Beartooth Highway. It’s is is more than just a 68-mile stretch leading fromconnecting the towns of one Red Lodge and Cooke Citypoint to another. It’s , ita National Scenic Byways holds the designation of All-American Road, a designation that means it’s considered a “travel destination unto itself” withing it has features that do not exist anywhere else in the United States and are unique enough to be tourist designations on their own. —unrivaled views of the wild, rugged Absaroka and Beartooth Mountains, and wide-open high-alpine plateaus dotted with countless glacial lakes, lush forested valleys, cascading waterfalls and wildlife in abundance.
This bucket-list beauty drops jaws at every turn. It sits in the middle ofwinds through 900,000 acres of pristine wilderness spanning three National Forests. There are 20 peaks tower over 12,000 feet,’ including Granite Peak—, the highest peak in Montana, which is consideredand one of the most difficult peaks to climb in the United States. The Beartooth Mountains are known to be one of thesome of the most biologically unique mountains in North America. The granite and crystalline metamorphic rocks are approximately 4 billion years old (, making them some of the oldest on earth),. Therthey contain over 400 species of plants and the grizzly bear population is one of the largest outside of Alaska and Canadain the lower 48.
There’s a reason scenic road trips are quintessentially American. They allow for easy discovery and exploration of extraordinary places. Heading to Yellowstone National Park? Don’t just take the scenic route, take the most scenic route. Added Bonus: Both Red Lodge and Cooke City are impossible towns not to explore. If you have the time, you’d be ahead to do just that.
The The roadBeartooth Highway usually opens Memorial Day weekend, and it doesn’t open quietly. Red Lodge throws an annual road-opening celebration with live music, good eats and local spirit, because the highway is just that beloved (for good reason). The road usually closes mid-October, but that just depends on what the weather decides to do. If this scenic drive is not already on your vacation list, go right ahead and add it.now is the time! For more information, visit BeartoothHighway.com.
Traveling on two wheels? The Beartooth Highway was voted the #1 motorcycle ride in the United States by members of the American Motorcyclist Association.
Prefer to pedal? Go the distance in the open air on a Beartooth Highway cycling trip.
Services along the route are limited to rest areas, interpretive sites and the famous Top of the World Store. However, you’ll find everything you might need—plus a hearty helping of hospitality—in Red Lodge and Cooke City, Montana’s gateways towns for this one-of-a-kind scenic byway.
The Beartooth Highway has plenty to offer outside of the car, too; it’s national forestland, after all. You’ll find cross-country and downhill skiing, hiking, photography opportunities, trout fishing, horseback riding and even camping in the area’s 13 National Forest campgrounds. When the highway closes to automobiles during the winter months, snowmobilers power up and ride the route.
Drive the destination and explore the Beartooth. It’ll never leave your rear-view.
ROUTE: Red Lodge to Cooke City
ROAD: U.S. Highway 212
TIME: 3 hours, minimum