The Beartooth Highway, Hwy 212, travels through some of the wildest and most scenic mountain landscape in the country.
Most of the enjoyment of this journey is simply the spectacular scenery and the viewpoints from overlooks. If you have the time, add some short hikes to your drive, or even get out onto an alpine lake.
Find out why a road was built in such a challenging and isolated environment. (Spoiler: folks like us are the reason).
We’ll show you where to look out for Bear’s Tooth – a jagged tooth like rock along the mountain range isn’t marked, but obviously caught the attention of the Crow People who gave its descriptive (translated) name.
Detour about 3 miles off the highway on an unpaved spur road to see the disused fire tower, and say hello to volunteers at the Visitor Center – July/August at Clay Butte Lookout.
If you have snagged a reservation at the most sought after campground on the drive at Island Lake, consider yourself lucky. It’s the setting off point for a host of activities.
On a drive with excellent views around every corner, the Vista Point Observation Site is a notable place to stop.
And the highest point along the mountain drive is West Summit Overlook, tapping out at 10,947 feet. Hold onto your hats, it’s often pretty windy here.
From Red Lodge or Cooke City
Allow 1 day
68 miles between Cookie City and Red Lodge
The Beartooth Highway is one of the most breathtaking routes that you can take to Yellowstone National Park. This 68-mile stretch of U.S. Route 212 is one of America’s most scenic drives, and as a result was designated as an ‘All American Road’.
Starting from the Red Lodge in Montana, this spectacular high mountain road climbs up to an elevation of almost 11,000 feet through alpine lakes, 12,000 foot peaks and pine forests to Cooke City.
The Beartooth Highway typically opens from late May to early October, weather permitting. Current opening and closing dates are available on the Yellowstone National Park website.
To drive the Beartooth Highway takes around two hours without stopping, but you’ll want to allow a full day for sightseeing stops and hikes along the way.
With sheer drops for most of the drove and numerous hairpin curves, driving at night on the Beartooth Highway isn’t recommended but the road is fully paved and safely driven by visitors from all over the world.