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Beartooth Highway, Montana
Fast Facts
Pack & Saddle
X-Country Skiing
Points of Interest Nearby
Family Travel Tips

Child at Vista Point Overlook, Beartooth Highway


Photo by Alfredo De Simone

The Beartooth Highway, a 68-mile stretch of US Highway 212 in Montana and Wyoming, is a gateway to outdoor activities and one of the most scenic drives in the United States. Not only does this All-American Road feature breathtaking views of the Absaroka and Beartooth Mountains, it passes through portions of three national forests - Custer, Shoshone and Gallatin - and sits on a million-plus acres of wilderness.

See forested valleys, glacial lakes, snow-capped peaks, fields of flowers, and waterfalls. Locate the rocky spires known as Pilot Peak and Index Peak as well as the pinnacle of sculptured granite aptly named Granite Peak. Traverse four distinct life zones - montane forest, montane meadow, subalpine forest and alpine meadow. Spot animals large - elk, mule deer and mountain goat - and small - pika, porcupine, pocket gopher, and yellow-bellied marmot. Search for signs of gray wolves, black bears and grizzlies. Spy on feathered friends, one hundred fifteen species of birds have been recorded in the Beartooth Corridor. Trace the route taken by General Sheridan in 1882. Enjoy the jaw-dropping panorama from the comfort of your car. Take to the trails in one of the highest and most rugged areas in the lower 48 states. Hike for half an hour. Go on a multi-day trek. Fish for Yellowstone cutthroat trout. Pitch a tent at one of thirteen national forest campgrounds. Explore the backcountry on a horse pack trip. Snowmobile on miles of groomed trails. Snowshoe and ski from the door of many Cooke City accommodations.
Absaroka-Beartooth Wilderness
Beartooth Mountains

Beartooth Mountains

Alfredo De Simone

The Absaroka-Beartooth Wilderness was established by Congress in 1978. It straddles the border between Montana and Wyoming. It sits within three national forests, Gallatin, Custer and Shoshone, and is managed by the Forest Service. It’s part of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. It’s nearly a million acres in size; 943,648 to be exact. The wilderness area contains two mountain ranges, the Beartooth Mountains and Absaroka Range. It’s home to Montana’s highest peak, Granite Peak at 12,807 feet, and counts 950 glacial lakes. Mountain goats, bighorn sheep, elk, deer, moose, marmots, coyotes, wolverine, cougars, lynx and bears - grizzly and black - inhabit the Absaroka-Beartooth Wilderness. The Beartooth portion of the wilderness is the more rugged of the two. It’s characterized by high, treeless plateaus and glacial landforms, such as such as cirques and moraines. It boasts more than 20 peaks over 12,000 ft and most of the area’s lakes. The Absaroka region, in contrast, has mountain meadows, spruce and fir forests, and trout-filled streams. Most of the wildlife is found in this part of the wilds.

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