Scenic USA - Montana

Beartooth Mountains

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Beartooth Mountains - US Route 212, Montana

Photo by Ron McEwen

     The territory surrounding Montana's Beartooth Mountains was so remote official government exploration did not occur until the late 1800s. This land, protected as the Absaroka-Beartooth Wilderness, harbors the state's highest mountain, Granite Peak. The remainder of the Beartooth Range makes up the highest altitude land in America, mostly topping the 10,000 foot mark. Crossing into Wyoming, the area could be viewed as an extension of Wyoming's Yellowstone National Park, still wild with a sizable population of grizzly bears and the reappearance of the wolf. Wolverines, bighorn sheep, mountain lions and the lynx add to the area's primitive reputation.
     Managed by the forest service, the Absaroka-Beartooth Wilderness was set up in 1978 and contains nearly a million acres. Because of the high altitude, much of the wilderness is treeless, marked with deep canyons, mountain streams and small lakes formed in glacial cirques. The extreme weather, seemingly forever cold and windy, keeps the Beartooth Scenic Highway closed the majority of the year. This view of the Beartooth Range is brighten by a summertime patch of fireweed and wildflowers, a delightful find on U.S. Route 212 as the highway approaches the Wyoming border.

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