The renowned Beartooth Highway (Highway 212), is a 65-mile route over the Beartooth Mountains with the Beartooth Pass at 10,947 feet, and is surrounded by the Gallatin, Shoshone, and Custer National Forests and sits in a million-plus acre wilderness. The Beartooth Mountains, east of Yellowstone Park, are part of the Yellowstone Ecosystem. This highway is renowned as one of the most scenic highways in America and offers visitors extraordinary views of a variety of ecosystems; a range from pristine alpine landscapes, lush forests, to grasslands sets the stage for over 400 plant species to grow, which is more flora than any other mountain range in North America.
The Beartooths are home to over 300 pristine lakes and waterfalls, some 300 feet . The Beartooth Mountains are some of the planet’s oldest rock with some dating at nearly four billion years. The highway, itself, is the highest elevation highway in the Northern Rocky Mountains. Twenty of the surrounding mountain peaks tower above 12,000 feet; Granite Peak (the highest in Montana) stands at 12,799 feet. Much of the area is covered by glaciers with glacial rock spread across many of the surrounding plateaus. There are about 25 small glaciers that exist today in the Beartooths. The U-shaped valleys were once V-shaped before the massive glaciers slowly ripped through the rocks. The name of the mountain range comes from a rugged peak that has the shape of a bear’s tooth.
While the majority of the Beartooth Mountains are protected as wilderness, part of the range lies outside the wilderness boundary. This unprotected area provides an incredible trail system to hikers, horseback riders, and climbers. Because of the abundance of wildlife ranging from elk to grizzly bear, it is important to take all safety precautions when venturing into this area. It is an incredible area and is right in our back yard.