Beartooth Mountains in Montana

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Beartooth Mountains

The Beartooth Mountains are home to a massive trail system for hikers and horses, endless fishing opportunities, and the solitude that is harder to find in more popular wilderness areas. Read More

  • The Beartooth Mountains can be found approximately 150 miles southeast of Big Sky.
  • The Beartooth Highway is probably the best-known feature of the Beartooth Mountains.
  • There are no fees, i.e. entrance fees, camping fees, etc. associated with the use of the Beartooth Mountains.

Overview

The Beartooth Mountains are the highest range in Montana with numerous peaks higher than 12,000 feet elevation, with many permanent snowfields and a few glaciers. They lie to the immediate northeast of Yellowstone National Park. The majority of the Beartooth Mountains are permanently protected by means of Wilderness designation and are a part of the Absaroka-Beartooth Wilderness.

Hours/Seasons

As a designated Wilderness Area, the Beartooth Mountains are open year round. However, the amount of snow that can accumulate at the higher regions – up to 30 feet in any one winter – can be a deterrent to out door activities during those months.

The best time to visit the area is May to October.

Fees

There are no fees, i.e. entrance fees, camping fees, etc. associated with the use of the Beartooth Mountains.

If you arrange to use the services of an outfitter or guide for a hike, backpacking trip, horseback trip, snowmobiling, etc, there will be fees and costs associated with that activity.

Contact

Beartooth Ranger District
HC 49, Box 3420
Red Lodge, MT 59068
(406) 446-2103

Highlights

The Beartooth Highway

The Beartooth Highway is probably the best-known feature of the Beartooth Mountains. The Beartooth Highway is the section of US 212 that winds through Beartooth Pass to Cooke City and through the northeast gate of Yellowstone National Park.

The highway was built in the 1930s and is considered an engineering feat--even by today's standards. The 68-mile road hugs the mountainside along curving switchbacks that traverse up, across and back down the alpine plateau.

Hiking

Access to the Absaroka-Beartooth Wilderness Area is excellent. Numerous roads flank the wilderness area and in a few cases parallel the border. A few other roads, such as south of Big Timber, actually penetrate into the wilderness area (the boundary is on either side of the road). All these roads allow hikers a wide variety of places of access points and places to hike.

An example of just two of the many hiking trails follows:

  • Bannock Trail
    The Bannock Trail is an excellent trail for individuals of all ages. It is a short portion of the Bannock Indian route used to reach buffalo hunting grounds. Beginning at the small community of Silver Gate Montana the almost level terrain parallels Soda Butte Creek, a major tributary of the Lamar River, into Yellowstone National Park. The trail crosses several streams through open meadows and forest groves.
    This trail is best hiked from May to mid-October.
    Total Distance – 4.8 miles
    Elevation gain – 130 feet
    Trail Type – Out and Back
    Skill Level – Easy to Moderate
  • Corral Creek Trail
    Beginning near the town of Red Lodge, the Corral Creek Trail follows a narrow mountain drainage curving around Sheridan Point. The trail leads to the headwaters of Corral Creek on the Line Creek Plateau. The well-defined trail has five creek crossings in the first mile. It is a beautiful but strenuous hike, gaining more than 3,000 feet.
    This trail is best hiked from May to mid-October.
    Total Distance – 8 miles
    Elevation gain – 3200 feet
    Trail Type – Out and Back
    Skill Level – Moderate to Strenuous

Camping

Camping in or around the wilderness area is also excellent. Many designated campgrounds, combined with virtually unlimited informal campsites, provide for plenty of places for camping, whether it is for a night or for a week. Unless you are an extreme outdoorsman, wait for the warmer weather to toss out your sleeping bag.

Getting Here

If you are visiting either Yellowstone National Park or Cody Wyoming, you will venture into the Beartooth Mountains as you continue to travel north. Both routes will eventually take you to Cooke City, Montana.

The shortest route to Big Sky, Montana is through northeast entrance to the Park and out the west entrance, then north to Big Sky. The Beartooth Mountains can be found approximately 150 miles southeast of Big Sky.

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