Beartooth Scenic Byway crosses the Montana/Wyoming border, and is the most beautiful road in either state. And for these states, that’s saying a lot. The byways is along Highway 212, between Cooke City and Red Lodge. I drove it this July. It’s only 68 miles from Cooke City to Red Lodge, but I stopped so many times (and hiked around and took pictures) that it took me all day. Thank you to those who told me to drive this road. It really is incredible. I haven’t said “holy fuck” so many times in one day for a long time.

Getting There:

The drive from Cooke City to the pass is nice on it’s own. There are a lot of lakes near the pass. I probably saw more than 100 lakes this day. 

Beartooth Scenic Byway

Beartooth Scenic Byway

Beartooth Scenic Byway:

Once the pass starts, there are a lot of switchbacks and elevation gain. This isn’t a pass that goes over a low, easy route. It goes to the highest point in 50+ miles!

Beartooth Scenic Byway

Beartooth Scenic Byway

The views are incredible. This is why I spent so much time stopped. Up at the top, I spent a couple hours walking around. There are views in all directions. Reaching them requires a bit of walking. I spent a lot of time walking north of the road. There is a high point with big views, but there is a moderate hill down from there – that goes down a couple hundred feet before dropping nearly straight down. I hiked all along that lower edge. It took a lot of hiking because it goes in and out, it’s steep, and it’s almost entirely covered in big rocks.

Beartooth Scenic Byway

Beartooth Scenic Byway

Beartooth Scenic Byway

Beartooth Scenic Byway

Beartooth Scenic Byway

Beartooth Scenic Byway

Beartooth Scenic Byway

I’m disappointed with my pictures. They really don’t do it justice. If/when I make it back again, I’ll have better technique and better equipment, and the time, if desired, to shoot sunrises and sunsets.

If you go to Yellowstone, you have to drive the Beartooth Scenic Byway!!