Red Lodge, MT
The number one reason we wanted to do a return visit to Red Lodge was the opportunity to drive the Beartooth Highway, one of the most beautiful roads in the country. We have driven the road twice before on motorcycles around the same time of year, but we wanted to see what this heavy snowfall this past winter looked like.
The Beartooth Highway is the section of U.S. Highway 212 between Red Lodge, Montana and Wyoming just north of the town of Cody. It traces a series of steep zigzags and switchbacks, along the Montana-Wyoming border to the 10,947 foot high Beartooth Pass. The approximate elevation rise is from 5,200 to 8,000 feet in 12 miles in the most stunning of landscapes. The late CBS correspondent Charles Kuralt called the road “the most beautiful drive in America.” Most of this blog is made up of pictures, as words cannot describe the beauty of the Beartooth Mountains.
About half way across the 30 mile drive is the state line. Crews on the Wyoming side just finished clearing the snow off the highway two days earlier.
The highest point on the road is in Wyoming, so the snow is deeper there. We saw many spots where skiers were hiking up hillsides to enjoy a ride back down.
There is a single tow line for skiers on the Wyoming side. Since the road just opened, allowing travel to the tow line, it wasn’t operational yet but they were working on it.
Heading down the south side of the drive the snow decreased, but the scenery maintained its beauty.
We turned around and headed back north to re-cross the pass. At one point we could see the road ahead zig-zagging in front of us in a series of switchbacks.
Friends Steve and MonaLiza (Lowes Travels) visited the pass a few years ago during July. We looked at their blog from that visit and found a very cool photo of the elevation sign at the high point on the highway. MonaLiza gave us permission to include the photo for comparison.
The scenery we observed driving over the Beartooth was stunning! The trip will undoubtedly be the highlight of our visit to Wyoming and Montana.
We’ll be in Red Lodge for a few more days and have a couple of hikes planned during that time. More on those later . . .