Beartooth Scenic Byway

Beartooth Lake

Beartooth Lake

While hanging out in Gardiner, Montana before visiting Glacier National Park and Yellowstone, Scott and I kept hearing about what is apparently the most famous place we have never heard of, the Beartooth Scenic Byway. We looked into it a bit and found the late CBS News correspondent Charles Kuralt called the highway, “The most beautiful drive in America”.  He should know; doubly.  It seems Mr. Kuralt simultaneously kept two families with whom he could potentially make the jaunt with.  With this endorsement from the man who practically invented the modern “On the Road” television genre we decided to make it a part of our rambling plans.

Turns out the 64-mile stretch of US Highway 212 from Red Lodge, Montana to Cooke City, Montana which snakes along a series of ziz-zags and switchbacks roughly along the Montana / Wyoming border is very lightly traveled. It meanders through three national parks within sight of a score of peaks soaring to over 12,000 feet and over an 11,000 foot pass.  Because the pass is open only from late May to late September, it is a seasonal but worthwhile indulgence.

We left Yellowstone about noon and began driving eastward along the highway. The scenery in the park was so amazing we couldn’t imagine something nearby yet largely unheard of that could compete.  By the time we passed through the appealing town of Cooke City and reached Beartooth Lake we were believers. Every turn brought even more improbable scenes of beauty. By the time we finished in Red Lodge we were amazed that not more people make this remarkable drive.

Gardner Lake Trail Head

Gardner Lake Trail Head

Scott Helping Out Some Bikers With a Group Shot

Scott Helping Out Some Bikers With a Group Shot

Long Lake

Long Lake

You Might Also Like

Author: Jonathan Look

In 2011 Jonathan Look decided to change his life and pursue adventures instead of comfort and possessions. His goal is to travel the world solo; one country at a time, one year at a time. To accomplish this he got rid of most of his possessions, packed up what little he saw as necessities and headed out. His goal is to spend ten years discovering new places, meeting new people and taking the time to learn about them, their values and their place on this tiny planet. He embraces the philosophy that says a person is the sum of their experiences and rejects the fraud of modern consumerism that makes people into slaves of their consumption. He doesn't intend to be modern day ascetic, just more mindful of his place in the world and to make decisions according to that new standard.

Share This Post On