Beartooth Highway

Oh… wow! Charles Kuralt (of CBS’ “On the Road” segments for the Nightly News with Walter Cronkite) dubbed this “the most scenic highway in the USA”. At first we were very underwhelmed, then the road began climbing through numerous switchbacks, and boy did our tune change!

If you are driving to Yellowstone, an absolutely awesome route would be to take this highway from Red Lodge, MT to the NE entrance of the park (we actually did it the opposite way).


As we left Yellowstone, we came across the beautifully reflective Beartooth Lake, where I got some awesome shots, after I picked my jaw up off the ground. We were thrilled that the aspens were turning as we were driving through the upper West.


The road is 68 miles along US Route 212 in MT and WY. The highest point is Beartooth Pass, which is well above treeline.


It was fascinating to watch the trees become more stunted and then disappear altogether as we would round a corner and find ourselves in alpine tundra.


The myriad alpine lakes were a neat surprise. We had no idea that an area that dry and barren would have deep pockets of blue.


After numerous twists and turns, Steve showed me the map on his phone:


I was also loving the pink granite everywhere -


My pictures don’t really do the drive and scope justice. You really need to drive it yourself to experience the awesome beauty of this corner of the country.

As we drove back into WY, we descended into red rocks and sagebrush.


Wind River Canyon in the Indian reservation of the same name was a really cool drive, but unfortunately we were in shade through it all, so no good pics. Interestingly, there were numerous signs along the highway informing us about the type of rock layers we were passing through and their ages (i.e. Triassic 115-225 million yrs).


Another interesting thing we noticed as we drove back through WY was how many pronghorn were scattered about.


Then in CO, we got to see lots more aspens…


…and were surprised to see not only yellow, but even some red.


We went hiking all around a couple of small lakes that were purported to be great spots to see moose, with nary a one in sight. We were heading out of a scenic canyon drive, settling in for the long haul to NE, when a cow decided to trot alongside the road in a field.


After we stopped to let her cross the road, she disappeared into the surrounding forest.


Some final (random) thoughts on this 6000 mile road trip -

  • miles and acres of sunflowers in SD

  • we paced a several mile-long train in ID going 68 mph! (imagine what it takes to stop that??)

  • we repeatedly saw signs and barriers on highways (and even the Interstate) for closing them (how much snow DO they get?)

  • how did Hiland, WY (population 10) warrant an official road sign stating that?

  • as we crossed NE, it was freaky and very noticeable that about halfway across the state, there was suddenly mugginess in the air and green grass everywhere


That was our last look at CO, in contrast to “back home” in MO:


For those who might not know, both Steve and I were raised in MO (he near St. Louis, and me in SW MO - Springfield), and whenever we see country like this, it brings up waves of nostalgia.

So… we’re off tomorrow on our next road trip to explore part of the Southwest - NM, southern CO and TX.