Cliff Lake, along the Beartooth Highway

Charles Kurault once called the Beartooth Highway, "America's most beautiful highway." The Beartooth Highway covers about 69 miles along US Highway 212 between Red Lodge and Cooke City, Montana. This is some absolutely spectacular countryside among the Absaroka and Beartooth Mountains near the northeastern corner of Yellowstone National Park.

The route travels through the Custer, Shoshone and Gallatin National Forests. The stretch of highway between Red Lodge, Montana, and Wyoming Highway 296 (the Chief Joseph Scenic Highway) is closed in winter by snow. But when that road is open, this is an incredible way to make the drive to the northeastern entrance of Yellowstone National Park.

For many miles along the road you'll have the Absaroka-Beathtooth Wilderness to the north and the North Absaroka Wilderness to the south. This is high mountain country with lots of wildlife out and about.

The route of the Beartooth Highway was originally built by soldiers under the command of General Philip Sheridan when he was in charge of Yellowstone National Park. In order to carry out his mission of protecting the park and preserving what was still left of its natural wonders, his men built the trail in 1888 to bring supllies overland from Red Lodge, Montana. The highway we see today was first widened and paved in the 1930's and finally opened to vehicular traffic in 1936.