The Beartooth Pass, part of US Highway 312, connects Red Lodge, Montana, to Yellowstone National Park creating a squiggly asphalt line sixty miles through some of the most rugged and beautiful landscape the USA has to offer. It is consistently ranked in the top ten best drives in America, and often number one by motorcycle publications. It is a Scenic Byways “All American Road,” meaning that just driving it is a destination in itself.
This nearly perfect collection of curves and peaks starts just an hour from my home base of Billings, Montana, so I’ve driven it a lot. I’ve driven the Pass at night. I’ve been caught in surprise snowstorms. I know every curve in the road and many of the trails that leave the road behind for the glaciated summits and lake-jeweled valleys. So, I’m kind of bored of it, right?
Um, no. But, after so many experiences on the Pass, including seeing massive wildfires blacken mountainsides and being chased by mountain goats trying to drink my pee, not much surprises me about the Beartooth Highway anymore.
It’s pretty late in the year for a post like this, but that’s the way it works, sometimes.
2016 started out with a bang (or maybe a roar) with a trip to see the 58th running of the Daytona 500. From there, I went west enjoying desert storms and mountains wildflowers. While I hit a lot of places I’d seen before, I was able to explore those places more deeply. I also made it all the way to the opposite coast and saw the magic of the sun setting over the Puget Sound. It was a pretty good year, and I’m looking forward having the adventures that will go into next year’s retrospective!
It only takes a few miles of driving along the coast of Maine to realize why people flock here every summer. The ocean splashes against the rocky coastline, lobster shacks alternating from tacky to homey line the beaches and the locals are friendly. Even the tollbooth operators smile at you when you pass.
Mount Washington looms over coastal New England. At 6,288 feet, it is visible from the Atlantic Ocean, 80 miles away. The highest windspeed ever recorded was clocked here on April 12th, 1934 at 231 mph. The “home of the worst weather on Earth” is accessible by a winding toll-road, but (for once) I decide to leave the car behind and take the historic cog railway allowing me to sit back and enjoy the ride as it claws its way straight up the mountain.