Saturday, June 13, 2009

On the Road with Mike and Joanie

Dubbed “the most beautiful roadway in America” by On the Road correspondent Charles Kuralt, the Beartooth Highway climbs to an astounding 10,947 feet above sea level.

Since its completion in 1936, the Highway has awed millions of visitors with its astonishing views of one of the most rugged and wild areas in the lower 48 states.

This 65-mile section of US Hwy 212 stretches from Red Lodge, Montana to Cooke City, Montana and crosses some of the highest elevations in both Wyoming and Montana accessible to motorized vehicles.

At various overlooks, we could see the switchback roads at the lower levels of the mountains.

The Beartooth Scenic Highway is considered an incredible engineering feat. The idea for the highway came about when the coal mining industry of the area started to dwindle. Locals wanted to build the high mountain highway in order to attract tourists to the territory.

Along the 65 miles, we encountered hairpin curves, high mountain vistas,


granite cliffs (Pilot Peak and the jagged edge of Index Peak are most spectacular), wildflowers,

free-flowing rivers,

and alpine lakes. The Road itself is the highest elevation highway in Wyoming (10,947 feet) and Montana (10,350 feet) and is the highest elevation highway in the Northern Rockies.

Some highlights include the Beartooth Plateau, Clarks Fork Valley, Granite Peak (Montana's highest peak), and views of the Absaroka-Beartooth Wilderness.

Visitors can photograph wildlife, including mountain goats, moose, elk, marmot, mule deer, black bear, grizzly bear, and wolf. Here a friendly marmot seems to be posing for the camera-carrying traveler.

Speaking of posing, this snow-eating monster seems to be waiting for its next meal of a 20-foot snowdrift at the two-mile altitude.

Mike and Joanie served as our guides along the Beartooth Highway. We were very happy to have the driving responsibilities in cousin Mike's capable hands. All the better to take photographs.

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