Iconic Drives in the U.S.: Beartooth Scenic Byway

Driving through the U.S. and its iconic drives has been a dream of mine since I was a little girl browsing through travel magazine in my parents living room. Just hearing their names: Route 66, Pacific Coast Highway, US Highway 1, Blue Ridge Parkway, Great River Road, bring a vision of exotic places and breathtaking photographs seen on glossy paper.

This summer I had the great pleasure to discover one I want to add to the list: Beartooth Scenic Byway.

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After spending the night in Red Lodge and having a wonderful dinner at one of the best restaurant in town, we started the climb to the top of the pass.

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The first part of the road winds its way through a canyon and lush lodge pole pine forest. Then the road opens up onto alpine tundra, clear alpine lakes, and snow that linger through the summer months. We found ourselves in the middle of glacial cirques passing through the top of the pass at 10,947 feet, down to the western town of Cook City and the northeastern entrance of Yellowstone National Park.

It is my understanding that this is the only National Scenic Byway in Wyoming, the first road to be constructed under the Park Approaches Act of 1931, and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Views along the road are spectacular. If you are afraid of heights you may want to find a driver that is not, the first part of the climb from Red Lodge can be intimating.

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A stop at the top of the pass, and the short climb to the actual summit is a must do. Bring a warm jacket, even in the summer. The winds can be strong and the difference in temperature from the bottom of the hill is significant.

My boyfriend made this ride 6 years ago in August with his son, and the pass was closed until 10:00 am because of snowfall at the top.

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The pass can be busy during the season especially with motorcycles, but just enjoy the ride!

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