The Beartooth Highway

The route features mountains with peaks at more than 12,000 feet in elevation and the Custer, Gallatin and Shoshone National Forests.

The Beartooth Highway is more than just a road, it is a popular destination point for many tourists. The 68-mile highway runs from the Yellowstone National Park northeast entrance across historic mining settlements of Silver Gate and Cooke City, past the Beartooth-Absaroka Wilderness, over the Beartooth Plateau and down switchbacks into Red Lodge.

The highway begins and ends in Montana but a large part treks through the northwest corner of Wyoming and is surrounded by the Custer Gallatin and Shoshone National Forests.

For tourists wishing to extend their stay, there are 13 campgrounds and more than 200 campsites along the highway. Several campgrounds in the Custer Gallatin National Forest allow travelers to reserve spots, while most other campsites welcome guests on a first-come-first-serve basis. Higher-elevation campgrounds are closed until July and lower-elevation sites open on or before Memorial Day weekend.

One popular site is the Island Lake Campground in the Shoshone National Forest. Pitch a tent for $15 a day, then take a two-mile hike to the Top of the World Store, where you can rent paddleboats, canoes and fishing equipment.

Many travelers hike the high-elevation trails between June and September. Backpackers can follow the trails for a day-hike or camp overnight. Hikers are advised to prepare for unpredictable weather, even snow in summer. All campers and hikers should remember that this is bear country; be prepared and use safe food storage practices.

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Cross-country skiing is another popular activity on the Beartooth Highway, with unending fresh mountain snow for the avid and extreme skier.

Hit the slopes at the challenging Gardner Headwall or take advantage of Cooke City’s out-the-door skiing access with unlimited paths to forge in the snow.

If you have wanderlust, it’s time to take the high road to your panoramic destination on the Beartooth Highway.

For more information, call (406) 446-1718 or check out beartoothhighway.com.

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