Before we get started with this latest post on the Beartooth Mountains, we would like to introduce our readers to a new feature. If you scroll down the page and look on the right-hand side, we now have a list of categories that are set up by state. You can cross reference various subjects such as campgrounds, sightseeing, state parks, food, museums, and more. We are hoping this will help you find specific information that might be of interest to you in our past posts.
While staying in Cody, WY, we also wanted to visit the Beartooth Mountains to the north. The Beartooth Mountains are the highest range in Montana with elevations exceeding 12,000 feet.
The Beartooth Highway begins in Red Lodge, MT and continues back down into Wyoming and goes all the way to Yellowstone. We drove from Cody to the beginning of the highway in Red Lodge, drove about 50 miles of the highway, then we exited the Beartooth Highway as it began its descent and we headed back to Cody by way of Chief Joseph Scenic Highway.
Red Lodge is quaint, historic mountain town that calls itself the gateway to Yellowstone. The photo below shows the picturesque downtown area.
We took a little break in Red Lodge and let Molly stretch her legs along Rock Creek. You can see from the way Molly's ears are sailing it was a little windy. :-)
As we began the ascent from about 5,600 feet in Red Lodge to the highest point along the highway of almost 11,000 feet, we were glad we were in the car and not in the motor home. Maybe the brave souls in the 5th wheel in front of us were going to stop at one of the campgrounds in the Custer National Forest before the road got steeper and narrower. We don't know, because we passed them before we got very much farther. :-)
In spite of long climbs up 6 and 7% grades, we came across several bicyclists.
We took another break for lunch at a rest stop at nearly 10,000 feet in altitude.
The views were spectacular.
Even at these high altitudes with severe winter temperatures and a short growing season, wildflowers grow from cracks in the rocks and bloom with amazing beauty.
Paul is checking out how the harsh conditions have created so much character in this tree growing on top of a rock.
After lunch we drove on a little farther and stopped at an overlook above Twin Lakes.
Continuing on, now at an altitude of about 11,000 feet, we came to a huge snow field that extended all the way to a parking area by the road. We couldn't resist getting out of the car to let Molly play in the snow. In the photo below, she is just about to catch a snowball.
The Beartooth Mountains get up to 30 feet of snow in the winter! Where the snow had melted around the base of several large boulders, we could see there was at least 4 or 5 feet remaining in the snow field in the photo above in the middle of July. In a nearby area, the snow drift at the side of the road was higher than the roof of the Hummer that happened to be passing by.
Shortly after we began to descend, we saw fishermen on the shore of Long Lake.
A little farther along was Beartooth Lake with Beartooth Butte in the background.
The nice lady who took the above picture was on a motorcycle trip with her husband and another couple from Missouri headed for Washington, Oregon, and down the California coast. We were thinking...what a nice 2-month trip. Noooo, that was a 2-WEEK itinerary. Motorcycling is very, very big in the west. Many travel that way...and many have gray hair...baby boomers en mass! :-)
Below is a view from the end of Beartooth Lake where it drains into Beartooth Creek.
Along the Beartooth Highway there were a number of waterfalls...
... and around every bend there seemed to be Kodak moment.
As we said earlier, Beartooth Highway continues on to Yellowstone's northeast entrance; but for now, it was getting late in the day, and we wanted to return to our rig. We turned off the Beartooth Highway a little past Beartooth Lake and headed back to Cody. We would be heading to Yellowstone soon enough, but in the motor home and by a little easier route.