Billings Stories and Tips

Introduction to the Beartooth Highway

The Beartooth Highway Photo, Billings, Montana

Montana and Wyoming are states where the adjective scenic is an understatement! There are rolling plains to the east, before they come crashing down in the central-west portion into the Rocky Mountains. The part where the plains meet the mountains in Montana is where I live. Montana is BIG. Actually, it is one of the biggest of the states, and there are many beautiful drives around, some amongst the most picturesque in the country. It so happens that one of these drives, called by a CBS correspondent the most beautiful drive in the US, is the Beartooth Scenic Highway. A 69-mile ride starting from the ski-resort town of Red Lodge slowly going up the mountains of the Beartooth Range, culminating at nearly 11,000 feet shortly after the Wyoming border, before a short loop back to Montana and the old mining town of Cooke City and the entrance of what is probably the country's best known natural treasure: Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming.
The Beartooth is a sub-range of the Absaroka Range, itself part of the Rocky Mountains system. Granite Peak (12,799 feet or 3,901m), Montana's highest mountain, is located in the Beartooth (and visible from my front yard).
After the closing of the mine of Red Lodge, prominent town citizens started to think about a way to bring prosperity back to the area. Thanks to the lobbying of the newspaper editor of the Carbon County News, Mr. Shelley, and a physician, Mr. Siegfriedt, Congress approved the money to build an access road through the mountain to reach Yellowstone National Park. President Hoover signed the bill and construction started. Road 212 was inaugurated in 1936, has been designated an "All American Road," and is listed as National Scenic Byway.
It is not open year-round though. Weather permitting, it is open between Memorial Day and mid-October.

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