Top Ten Scenic Drives in the United States
From the old mining town of Red Lodge in southern Montana, the Beartooth Highway quickly enters hill country, then begins to climb higher. Millions of years ago, great masses of metamorphic rock were thrust up from the earth and became the vast plateaus that rise above the road; canyons were carved out by the flow of glacial ice. After a few tortuous switchbacks, a pull-out on Vista Point offers a 9,200-foot view across Rock Creek Canyon to the Beartooth Plateau.
In Wyoming the road keeps climbing and turns back along the edge of the canyon, overlooking glacial lakes. Driving past wildflower-laden meadows, you'll reach the western summit of Beartooth Pass, which tops out the drive at 10,947 feet. On the way down, look first for Beartooth Falls, then for another thunderous waterfall near Lake Creek. For one last spectacular view before you head to road's end near Yellowstone, climb the old fire tower, Clay Butte Lookout, for a sweeping vista of Montana mountains.
Just the Facts
Route: From Red Lodge (MT) into Wyoming, across Beartooth Pass, and west to the northeastern entrance of Yellowstone
Length: 68 miles (three hours)
Season: Late spring to fall
Features and activities: Camping, hiking the Beartooth Loop, and picnicking and fishing at Beartooth Lake
More scenic drives:
More on the Beartooth Highway
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication