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Beartooth Highway

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Ride Stats:

  • Distance: 64 miles / 103.0 km
  • Ride Time: 2-4 hours
  • Approximate Fuel Costs: $4.86
  • States Visited: Montana, Wyoming
Submitted by:
OpenRoadRider pro

The Beartooth Highway is one of the most spectacular National Forest routes on this continent. Travel it yourself and see why Charles Kurault called it 'America's most beautiful highway.'
Start your journey at the border of Custer National Forest in Montana. You'll have the ultimate high-country experience as you drive through the Custer, Shoshone, and Gallatin National Forests to the Byway's end near the northeast entrance to Yellowstone National Park. You'll see rugged mountains, icy glaciers, and alpine meadows full of wildflowers. Perhaps you'll even spot a moose or grizzly bear.

Since its completion in 1936, the Highway has provided millions of visitors a rare opportunity to see the transition from a lush forest ecosystem to alpine tundra in the space of just a few miles. The Beartooth area is one of the highest and most rugged areas in the lower 48 states, with 20 peaks reaching over 12,000 feet in elevation. Glaciers grace the north flank of nearly every towering mountain peak.

The first recorded travel across the Beartooth Pass area occurred in 1882, when General Sheridan pioneered and marked a route across the mountains from Cooke City to Billings.

Fisherman in Clarks Fork of Yellowstone River (WY) [3]Looking for something to do? Look no further. Recreational opportunities are abundant here. In warmer months, hike across broad plateaus, and view and photograph wildlife like Rocky Mountain goats, moose, black bears, grizzly bears, marmots, and mule deer. Take a guided horseback trip, fish for trout in the streams and lakes adjacent to the Byway, and camp in the 12 National Forest campgrounds in the area.

Wintertime brings lots of snow and all the activities that come with it. Though the route is officially closed, cross-country skiing and snowmobiling is available from many trailheads. Red Lodge, Montana invites downhill skiers and snowboarders to spend the days on the slopes and the evenings in front of a fire while snow lightly falls outside.

For an experience in western heritage and stunning natural wonders, no drive delivers like the Beartooth Highway

Alpine climate is rigorous, and severe weather conditions can occur any month of the year. For example, during the summer temperatures range from the 70s on sunny days to below freezing during sudden snowstorms.

The Wyoming part of the Byway is generally open seasonally from Memorial Day weekend to mid-October depending on snowfall. To check road conditions and opening and closing dates travelers should call the Red Lodge Chamber of Commerce at 406-446-1718. The road is normally plowed by Memorial Day, but closures are common through June due to spring snow storms. From the opening near Memorial Day, the road is seldom closed more than one day to remove the snow.

It is not uncommon to experience blizzard type conditions both in the spring and the fall, especially at higher elevations. When these events occur, travel is slowed considerably or the highway is closed until it can be reopened by maintenance crews.

Best Time to Drive
Driving from Red Lodge to Cooke City (east to west) in the morning and west to east in the afternoon will reduce glare.

US 212 west from its junction with WY 296 into Cooke City and Yellowstone National Park opens in early May for the springtime/summer travel season and remains open until mid to late October as snow conditions allow.

US 212 south over Beartooth Plateau to its junction with the Chief Joseph Scenic Highway (WY 296) opens the Saturday of Memorial Day weekend and remains open until mid-October as snow conditions allow.

High Season

Shoulder Season
Check with the local ranger station or the Red Lodge Chamber of Commerce before traveling the Byway in May, September or October.

Off Season
The Byway is generally closed due to snow from October through April.

This is a motorcycle ride in the states Montana, Wyoming. This motorcycle route has 10 scenery characteristics and other road conditions to help you plan your road trip. This motorcycle map was created by OpenRoadRider in March. Click here to see other Motorcycle Roads by OpenRoadRider

Rider Photos:

  • Motorcycle Ride Picture 1 for Beartooth Highway
  • Motorcycle Ride Picture 2 for Beartooth Highway
  • Motorcycle Ride Picture 3 for Beartooth Highway
  • Motorcycle Ride Picture 4 for Beartooth Highway
  • Motorcycle Ride Picture 5 for Beartooth Highway

Ride Scenery:

Historic SitesUrban/ResidentialParksFall ColorsLakesForestMountainsRuralRiverFarm Land

Best Time to Go

Spring, Summer

Road Characteristics:

Straight RoadSweeping Curves RoadHillyAdequate

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Previous Comments from other Riders:

KenMaples says:

Pone of the must do rides. Rode it in early August on the way to Sturgis.
Wed Dec 17, 2014 at 11:59 PM

Dwight59102 says:

From Cody Wyoming ride the Chief Joseph Highway to the Beartooth Pass over to Red Lodge Montana or vice versa. It is a beautiful ride either direction. You can make a great dayride loop out of it. I ride it four or five times a year and always enjoy it.
Sun Feb 3, 2013 at 11:38 AM

felon says:

Rode this last in year on July 1, 2006. It was 90 degress when we started out from Cody. As we crossed the top of the pass there was 3 feet of snow on the ground!! Pretty exciting for a Florida boy!! Stopped and rolled around in it. Road was clear, no problems. It WAS the most spectacular ride I have ever been on and I have been riding over 35 years.IT IS A MUST RIDE!!!

Just rode it again, 8/26/07, this time east to west, WOW!!! A brand new perspective!!!
Fri Jan 11, 2013 at 9:10 AM

JoeMc says:

Did it in '98 what a ride!Definitely going to do it again. Thanks for the nice informative report.
Fri Jan 11, 2013 at 9:09 AM

mcw999 says:

Fantastic ride, easily one of the best anywhere for mountain scenery. Alternative - start from Red Lodge, take the road down to Cody WY. It's a really nice ride through high valleys and over Dead Indian Pass.
Fri Jan 11, 2013 at 9:09 AM

Quicksilver says:

A fantastic road! Will definately do this again. The wife was a bit spooked as she doesn't do heights very well, but once she got to Chief Jo highway she was much better. What great views and beautiful winding corners.
Fri Jan 11, 2013 at 9:09 AM

SKJenkins1 says:

Great ride 2009. Lots of scenery and switch back curves.
Fri Jan 11, 2013 at 9:09 AM

Terry_Cox says:

What a amazing ride. I rode through the Beartooth Pass on my way to Sturgis coming from
Arkansas August 2010. I went through the Tetons and Yellowstone which was really nice but cannot come close to the thrill of the beartooth pass. Out of all the thousands of miles on the bike over the years I was like a kid at chrismas on this ride. The best best part was when I spotted the beartooth. gotta do this one, what a cool day it was.
Fri Jan 11, 2013 at 9:09 AM


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