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Another Epic Drive - Beartooth Pass and Dead Indian Pass


View 2018 on mrb430's travel map.

Bearthooth Highway from Red Lodge to the Pass

Beartooth Pass is one of the most epic drives I've ever done. This was at least the third time I've done it but it took A LOT of patience to finally get through it with Scott this time. We had intended to take it from Big Sky over to Red Lodge, passing through a part of Yellowstone on our way. Unfortunately, this area had the most snow in ages this year and although Montana got their side open to the border by the target of Memorial Day Weekend, Wyoming didn't...and didn't...and didn't. They finally got their side open on June 1st. In their defense, there was a lot of snow on their side!
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The road starts out pretty benign, traveling into the valley. But then you start to climb...and climb...and climb through switchback after switchback.
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I think it was about here where I had to turn the wheel over to Scott. I had intended to drive so he could take it all in but it seems I've developed a fear of falling off the side of a cliff!
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See those switchbacks down there! Those were the EASY ones!
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Vista Point and the Hell Roaring Plateau
Finally, you reach the first real stopping point at Vista Point to look out over the Hell Roaring Plateau.
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And you are welcomed by these cute little guys scampering around the rocks! "Hell roaring you say? We call it home!"
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45th Parallel
After reaching the high alpine plateau at the state line, and having found some of all that snow everyone is talking about you reach the 45th Parallel.
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Halfway between the North Pole and the Equator is an obvious "selfie moment".
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Gardner Lake
Gardner Lake is the first of many alpine lakes to come. It's a beautiful spot and our first chance to get out and walk around and of course the first thing I notice is all of the wildflowers! The tenacity of these little alpine gems is amazing! Especially given the temperature had dropped to about 50 degrees and the wind was whipping about 20 miles an hour!
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The Bear's Tooth
Did you know there is actually a Bear's Tooth Mountain on the Beartooth Highway? I didn't. See that pointy peak? That's the one most people agree is "the tooth".
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West Summit - 10,947'
The road keeps climbing and the snow gets deeper and deeper, the wind blows harder and harder, and the temperatures get colder and colder and then you reach the summit! At this point I do still have my travel dress on but also a t-shirt, leggings, a wool sweater, and a Goretex jacket!
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Starting down the other side, the land opens up a bit, the switchbacks are gentler, there are people skiing down the slopes between switchbacks and taking advantage of the open snowy areas for kite boarding.
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Then you pick up the Upper Clark’s Fork of the Yellowstone River as you near Top of the World store with Beartooth Butte rising in the distance.
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Beartooth Lake and Beartooth Butte
After passing another frozen alpine lake, you reach Beartooth Lake with the Butte rising behind it and the river rushing out from it. It was awesoemthe sun came out and the temperatures rose, I shed a few layers after this stop!
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Pilot and Index Peaks
As you keep moving g down the Wyoming side, the Absarokee Range comes in to view and it's breathtaking stretching out before you for ever. Especially wonderful are Pilot and Index Peaks. They tower above and you can pick them out from the rest. In my opinion, these are the best peaks - the ones that are instantly recognizable.
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Lily Lake
Being who we are, we saw a dirt track heading off the highway and had to take it.
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Good thing we did because this was out reward!
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See if you can pick out Pilot and Index Peaks at the beginning of this video and later when we are almost to the lake.

Lake Creek Falls
Finally, just before our turn off, we came to Lake Creek Falls. It was a short walk so LOTS of people did it and it was pretty crowded but it was a pretty falls rushing with snow melt.
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Chief Joseph Scenic Byway and Dead Indian Pass

We decided rather than going back across Beartooth to head out on the Chief Joseph Scenic Byway back to Red Lodge and see some other sights. I'm glad we did; it was yet a whole other ecosystem and land form to see. Another set of switch backs to get over Dead Indian Pass, a deep gorge, and even towards the end some badlands-like formations.
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It was a great day of driving!

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Posted by mrb430 19:10 Archived in USA Tagged mountains montana beartooth off-roading redlodge Comments (3)

Relaxing in Red Lodge


View 2018 on mrb430's travel map.

Fin+Pin Lodge

We got into Red Lodge on Wednesday so we're three nights into our 10 night stay and we're already feeling like locals. Our house here is super comfortable, quiet, and cool.
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The best part is the kitchen! I went a little crazy at the grocery store but it was worth it to be able to cook!
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We're just a block off the main street, Broadway, so we walk to the bars and restaurants, to the store, and to sightsee.
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It's nice to be able to walk Cadeau around a neighborhood, too. And we get plenty of time to enjoy it - the sun rises at 5:30 and doesn't get fully dark until 10:30! This is the view off our back porch that faces West. They are the longest sunsets I've ever seen
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Beartooth Range

We are right at the base of the Beartooth Mountains. Coming into town from the North was really beautiful. It was almost as majestic as the approach to the Tetons.
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May and June are Bloomin'!

We did a nice hike our first day that followed a ridge out and then cut down through a beautiful meadow full of wildflowers to follow the West Fork of Rock Creek back.
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These Pasqueflowers are beautiful and then they develop the totally cool seed heads below.
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King of the Mountain!
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Mountain Forget-me-nots! So special and just everywhere in one particular open area.
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The next day we did a scenic drive over to the site of the Smith Mine Disaster. They have "preserved" the site as a memorial to the miners who died. It was interesting but I would have liked to be able to get closer.
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And of course there were more wildflowers. It's fascinating to see how the flowers change with the ecosystem.
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There were huge stands of this Fuzzy-tongued Penstemon that were a totally new one for me.
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And the Indian paintbrush was really orange here where other places it's been red. It was just covering the tops of the hills along with the Western Blue Flax. What a great combination.
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We plan to travel over the Beartooth Pass later this week so more to come on that. In the meantime, follow us on Instagram @arrradventures for (almost out) daily pictures and random silliness.

Posted by mrb430 10:25 Archived in USA Tagged wildflowers montana beartooth redlodge Comments (3)

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