The Beartooth Highway

Beartooth Highway panorama
Beartooth Highway panorama

A candidate for the most scenic highway in America? I think so. When planning our 2016 Yellowstone vacation we hadn’t originally intended to continue north into Montana, but when I read this claim in Lonely Planet I knew we had to travel the Beartooth Highway. 64 miles of mountain pass from Cooke City to Red Lodge – what’s not to love?

Cooke City

Northeast Yellowstone
Northeast Yellowstone

We still had a large and beautiful chunk of Yellowstone to drive through before reaching the Northeast Entrance Gate, so by the time we got to Cooke City we were ready for an early lunch and a wander. It’s not exactly what I would call a city, but just look at those vistas!

We discovered that the town had a lovely little museum dedicated to the early miners in the area, Cooke City being the major camp for prospectors from 1869, so we looked at that too before heading back onto the highway to continue the adventure.

Clay Butte

Pilot and Index Peaks
Pilot and Index Peaks

After Cooke City, the road dipped back into Wyoming. These two peaks beguiled us all the way and we paused in several places to photograph them. Our next major stop was Clay Butte Tower which involved a three-mile drive on a gravel road. The tower used to be a fire lookout but now functions as a visitor centre.

Top of the World

Back on the main highway, we made slow progress because there were just so many beautiful places to stop, for example Beartooth Lake followed by a welcome visit to Top of the World Store for coffee.

After this, the road began a serious climb, until we reached Beartooth Pass, the highest point on the road at 10947 feet. It was blowy!

Summit to Red Lodge

Then it was all downhill with another couple of stops at Gardner Lake and our second Montana State Line of the day. This one claims to be the highest state welcome sign in the US.

At the end of the day we arrived in Red Lodge, another charming old town, which was to be our base for the next couple of nights. More about it next time!


67 thoughts on “The Beartooth Highway

  1. the eternal traveller February 20, 2017 / 11:26

    There’s nothing like a wonderful view to make a road trip amazing. Fantastic photos!


  2. Suzanne et Pierre February 20, 2017 / 13:59

    It is indeed a beautiful road. We did it from the other side (from Montana to Yellowstone) and in October with snow on the ground. It is nice to see what it looks like in summer. (Suzanne)


    • Anabel Marsh February 20, 2017 / 14:27

      I bet it was really beautiful in snow too – though I’m not sure I’d have liked it as a drive in the snow!


      • Suzanne et Pierre February 20, 2017 / 14:33

        Actually, we took a chance because 12 miles before the highway started there was a sign indicating that the road was closed but when we arrived it had just reopened. The driving wasn’t very difficult (though I must admit that being Canadian we are used to driving on snowy road). I will post a few pictures on the blog shortly to show you what it looked like. I have posted one picture so far if you are interested to see it but it doesn’t show the road.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Donna February 20, 2017 / 15:25

    Absolutely stunning views and I love the name ‘Bear Tooth Pass.’ Embarrassingly, I have a list of places to visit solely based on place names alone (Hot Coffee, Mississippi, Two Egg, Florida, Saint-Louis-du-Ha-Ha, Quebec, etc., etc.) I can now add ‘Bear Tooth’ based both on the recommendation of “most scenic highway in America”, as well as its cool sounding name!


  4. susan@onesmallwalk February 20, 2017 / 15:33

    Love the picture of the two of you. America doesn’t do quaint villages as good as you guys do, but the wow vistas seem to be everywhere. 🙂


    • Anabel Marsh February 20, 2017 / 16:27

      We were lucky that another couple came up just as we were leaving so they took our picture and we took theirs! Wow vistas, yes, quaint villages, maybe not – but I do like these little western towns.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Birgit February 20, 2017 / 16:53

    Wow…now this looks amazing and I want to drive there myself! It looks so picturesque. This further confirms why I would love to visit Montana


    • Anabel Marsh February 20, 2017 / 17:22

      It was amazing, Birgit. Hope you get a chance to go there some day!


  6. hilarymb February 20, 2017 / 16:58

    Hi Anabel – what a wonderful trip – beautiful part of the world … stunning … lovely to see and read … cheers Hilary


  7. Liesbet February 20, 2017 / 17:14

    I love the scenic highways in the US, especially out west and especially when there are a lot of places to pull over and enjoy the views! Great photo of the two of you, Anabel!


  8. Amy Parmeter February 20, 2017 / 17:40

    Beautiful images and details! Feel like I’ve just been on a trip!


  9. Su Leslie February 20, 2017 / 19:06

    Stunning! Would love to visit, but perhaps not in the next four years.


  10. Eunice February 20, 2017 / 20:44

    Fab scenery, and the sky looking down the road at Cooke City looks gorgeous 🙂


  11. Heyjude February 20, 2017 / 23:50

    Driving in the US is a dream away from the cities. Always places to stop and admire the view, unlike our highways where you can never stop. And how can anyone resist a place with the name Beartooth – I guess that comes from the shape of the peak? You had a fab road trip Anabel, I am quite envious. So Canada beckons next – which part?


    • Anabel Marsh February 21, 2017 / 07:17

      And the views are so amazingly big to us from our fairly small island! Yes, one of the peaks is Beartooth. We’re off to the Canadian Rockies this summer, can’t wait for that.

      Liked by 2 people

      • Heyjude February 21, 2017 / 12:04

        So, Banff, Lake Louise and Jasper? I was going to do a road trip around there from Vancouver on our last Canada trip, but decided on another visit to the Island as it was October and I didn’t know what the weather would be like. A road trip is no good if you can’t see the views!


  12. Kathleen Jennette February 21, 2017 / 02:20

    Ah now, this is a place I have actually driven and ridden my motorcycle through. It is beautiful and serene. Everyone must visit our Parks and enjoy them and this one can’t be missed.


    • Anabel Marsh February 21, 2017 / 07:22

      I’m not surprised – we met a lot of motorcyclists and it was obviously a great road for them. Apart from the poor guy we met at Top of the World whose bike had broken down…..

      Liked by 1 person

  13. anotherday2paradise February 21, 2017 / 03:23

    Lovely vistas, Anabel. We loved our Yellowstone road trip. We started at Jackson Hole and must have gone a different route. Many roads weren’t open because of the snow. Maybe next time we’ll try the Beartooth Highway. 🙂


    • Anabel Marsh February 21, 2017 / 07:24

      We came from Jackson too and just assumed we’d go back that way until I read about sounded irresistible!

      Liked by 1 person

  14. restlessjo February 21, 2017 / 08:33

    The backdrop to Cooke City is wonderful, isn’t it? Life sounds good right now, Annabel 🙂


    • Anabel Marsh February 21, 2017 / 08:45

      It’s a tiny place but we wished we could have stayed at least a night there. Plenty of trails roundabout but because we did the whole highway in one day we didn’t have time for walking.

      Liked by 1 person

  15. Ann Coleman February 21, 2017 / 15:00

    Thanks for the information and the photos! Montana is yet another place I haven’t been but hope to go to. The more I read about other people’s travels, the more I am ready to pack my suitcase and go.


    • Anabel Marsh February 21, 2017 / 15:13

      I could certainly do that today as I look out at grey skies and rain!


  16. greenpete58 February 21, 2017 / 16:40

    I think Charles Kuralt said this was his favorite stretch of road in America. Great photos…thanks!


    • Anabel Marsh February 21, 2017 / 17:39

      I think it became mine too! Thanks for commenting.


  17. lindseylivings February 22, 2017 / 11:31

    I’m from Montana and I love seeing people post about it, or even Wyoming. I can’t believe how pointy Pilot peak is, it reminds me of the mountain from the Grinch if it was droopy. Beautiful pictures!


    • Anabel Marsh February 22, 2017 / 13:35

      Thank you – I’m so pleased to have a comment from somebody from Montana!

      Liked by 1 person

  18. BeckyB February 22, 2017 / 12:00

    oh my . . . . what a glorious highway and looks like you had much of it to yourselves. Despite lots of family in the USA we are not keen to visit the country at the moment, feels to divisive. Then when I see glorious vistas like this, I think to myself how can I stay away.


    • Anabel Marsh February 22, 2017 / 13:37

      Yes, it was very quiet – surprisingly so. America is a beautiful country but it’s off my agenda at the moment too.

      Liked by 1 person

  19. Jessica (Diverting Journeys) February 22, 2017 / 17:34

    Happy to see you’re writing about your American road trip again! I’ve got a pretty extensive Google map full of places I still need to visit in the States (since I don’t seem to make it much farther than Ohio these days), and your posts are useful for filling out the West. I’ll definitely be adding that miners’ museum!


    • Anabel Marsh February 22, 2017 / 19:56

      Such a pretty place! I have quite a list of posts still to do about that trip, I just never quite get round to it.


  20. Blue Sky Scotland February 23, 2017 / 10:53

    Only one million people in Montana for such a large state so not surprised the roads were empty and the views expansive. Glasgow was voted a Lonely Planet top city recently- cant really see that myself considering all the worldwide competition on offer and the state of the city centre right now :o)


    • Anabel Marsh February 23, 2017 / 15:26

      Oh, I don’t know, I’ve been living here over 30 years and I’m still finding new things to enjoy. For its size, I think that’s amazing!


  21. Sarah Ferguson and Choppy February 27, 2017 / 17:07

    Gorgeous! I’ve never done the Beartooth, but I think next time we are out there I will have to remedy that situation!


  22. Diane Frisch February 28, 2017 / 09:41

    So beautiful! I am glad to have you to show me around my own country! I have so many national parks yet to see. Yellowstone is for sure on the short list. so many places to visit. Thank you for sharing, the photos are great!


  23. Sartenada March 12, 2017 / 07:15

    How beautiful landscapes. Your photos re wonderful. Thank You.


  24. jazzfeathers March 15, 2017 / 11:30

    Fantastic views. Isn’t it wonderful when the road you should drive anyway going from one place to another turns out to be worth in itself? (I might have said something phylosophical here… unwittingly 😉 )


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