Beartooth Highway Montana/Wyoming

PopUpSteve

Administrator
Staff member
Gold Supporting Member
Dec 22, 2002
21,292
Southeastern PA
The Beartooth Highway is truly one of the most scenic roads in America. This 68 mile road climbs up into the Beartooth Mountains and traverses out of the Northern parts of Yellowstone National Park, alone the Montana/Wyoming border, exiting near the town of Red Lodge in Montana. These are quite a few National Forest Service campgrounds along the route including my personal favorite, Island Lake. Camping fees are $15 per night, all primitive camping. It’s a very small window of opportunity to enjoy this place as the road opens in mid to late June and closes with the first snows after Labor Day. The campgrounds normally open the first week in July and close on Labor Day.

Ascending the mountains is best from the West, out of Yellowstone. This is a nice gentle climb up several sets switch-backs, almost to the point of not noticing the fact that you are approaching 11,000 feet at the pass. Coming up from the East, out of Red Lodge, you’ll climb up over 3,400 feet in one set of switch-backs to Rock Creek Vista Point at 9,000 feet and then on up to the pass. Another approach, coming up from Cody Wyoming, will bring you up and onto the Beartooth Highway at just about the middle of its 68 mile length.

If you ever plan on taking the epic cross country trip to Yellowstone, make sure you make time to stay up in the Beartooth Mountains. Your only regret will be not making the journey.

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kcsa75

Super Active Member
Gold Supporting Member
Sep 9, 2013
5,931
Kansas City
We drove the Beartooth in 2015 when we went to Yellowstone NP. On the way up heading east, we stopped to take a photo and I got to talking with a guy who had come from the other direction. He said (I'm paraphrasing) "you're going to see something, stop to take a picture and think its the greatest thing you've ever seen. Then your going to get back in the car, go around the corner and see something more beautiful. And it'll be that way the whole way."

He was right!

As Steve says, if you're going to be in the neighborhood you CANNOT skip the Beartooth Highway. Photos posted are great but they don't hold a candle to seeing this with your own eyes. [:)C]
 

FlyboyTR

Member
Sep 4, 2018
25
Mobile, AL
Excellent write up and pictures...thanks for sharing! I will be in that area in about two weeks. Due to time constraints on the drive between Glacier and Madison campground in Yellowstone...I was going to pass on Beartooth. But...I may have to go back and rethink that. Thanks for spuring on the excitement!
 

Scififan

Member
Jan 23, 2022
19
Montana
I live in Montana and this drive is so spectacular that we try to go over it every year. Be prepared for some wind though!
 

AZjayco91

Member
Dec 22, 2019
44
No Pho AZ
Red Lodge is a beautiful place to be in, visited there over 10 years ago and it left a lasting impression. The Beartooth pass is a great trip. Thanks for the images.
 

gladecreekwy

Super Active Member
Sep 25, 2016
1,789
Jackson Wyoming
Excellent write up and pictures...thanks for sharing! I will be in that area in about two weeks. Due to time constraints on the drive between Glacier and Madison campground in Yellowstone...I was going to pass on Beartooth. But...I may have to go back and rethink that. Thanks for spuring on the excitement!
It’s not open. Neither will Madison Campground. It opens May 5th, Beartooth not till almost June. (See pic above)
Edit. My bad. Didn’t look at the date of this post.
 
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PopUpSteve

Administrator
Staff member
Gold Supporting Member
Dec 22, 2002
21,292
Southeastern PA
@Overland, You may still be able to enjoy the Beartooth, in part. If you come at it from the West (out of Yellowstone NP at Tower/Roosevelt), the road should be open at least as far as route 296, which, taking that road, would bring you down to route 120 and then to Cody WY. Or you could reverse the route, going from Cody to upper Yellowstone NP. Route 296 is also a beautiful drive, so I'm told.

And route 212 (The Beartooth Highway) may be partially open beyond 296 but most likely not to the pass. Check with WY & MT DOT before heading up into the mountains.

Here's a link to TBH status:

Make sure you dress and are prepared for ALL 4 Seasons! When I did my X-country in 2017, I was in 108 degrees temps at Hover Dam and a few days later, 29 degrees up at Island Lake in the Beartooth Mts.
 
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Overland

Active Member
May 1, 2013
528
Bristol, Pa
Here's a pic I found on the net.. so cool. This is during construction in the 40's.

Steve, I just might see at least part of it the way you describe.. from Cody to upper YNP.

12 days.. I'm getting fidgety

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