Heralded as one of the most scenic drives in the United States, the Beartooth Highway is a 67 mile stretch of US Highway 212 with breathtaking views of the Absaroka and Beartooth Mountains, in Wyoming and Montana, climbing to an astounding 10,947 feet above sea level. With 10,000 mountain lakes, 20 peaks reaching over 12,000 feet in elevation, and 12 national forest campgrounds, the Beartooth Highway is one of America’s most scenic drives.
This scenic drive has been called "the most beautiful drive in America”. Part of the National Scenic Byways All-American Road, it’s a winding and high road with lots of photo spots which winds its way through southwest Montana and northwest Wyoming and leads into Yellowstone National Park at its Northeast Entrance.
The highway has visitors from around the world. There are sheer drops virtually along the entire route and enough hairpins to make a whirling dervish dizzy. It’s not recommended at nights. The road climbs up the Beartooth Pass, at an elevation of 10,947 ft (3,337 m) above the sea level.
This section of U.S. Route 212 between Red Lodge, Montana and Cooke City, Montana, is the highest elevation highway in Wyoming (10,947 feet) and Montana (10,350 feet), and is the highest elevation highway in the Northern Rockies. In the surrounding mountains, glaciers are found on the north flank of nearly every mountain peak over 11,500 feet high. The road itself is the highest elevation highway in Wyoming (10,947 feet) and Montana (10,350 feet), and is the highest elevation highway in the Northern Rockies.
The drive is definitely worth it. There are many excellent photo opportunities. Don’t forget your camera! The road encompasses miles of stunning views through twisty hair pin corners, high elevations and steep grades. With 10,000 mountain lakes, 20 peaks reaching over 12,000 feet in elevation, and 12 national forest campgrounds, the Beartooth Highway is one of America’s most scenic drives. Witness the rare transition of lush forest ecosystem to alpine tundra in just a few miles on the highest elevation road in the Northern Rockies, and access the northeast entrance to Yellowstone National Park.
Because of heavy snowfall at the top, the pass is usually open each year only from mid May through mid October. Snowstorms can happen even in summers, and strong winds and severe thunderstorms can be usual. The expected driving time to complete the 69 miles (111km) is around 2 hours. Avalanches and heavy snowfalls can sometimes block some sections of the road and can be extremely dangerous due to frequent patches of ice. Conditions can change quickly and be harsh. Road closures can be frequent, so check conditions before traveling to this area.
The Beartooth Highway is an easy access to Yellowstone National Park at its northeast entrance. The weather conditions at the Beartooth Highway can be harsh, because it crosses some extreme parts of the country, reaching 10,977 and surrounded by 20 mountain peaks that reach over 12,000 feet. But summertime temperatures can range from the 70s on sunny days to below freezing during sudden snowstorms. Tracing the border between Montana and Wyoming in the Beartooth Mountains, the Beartooth Highway runs from Red Lodge, Montana to Cooke City along US Route 212.
The road is in dreadful condition and requires strong nerves to negotiate it. The Beartooth Highway was opened on June 14, 1936. Heralded as one of the most scenic drives in the United States, the Beartooth Highway, a National Scenic Byways All-American Road, features breathtaking views of the Absaroka and Beartooth Mountains, and open high alpine plateaus dotted with countless glacial lakes, forested valleys, waterfalls and wildlife.