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.
A cabin stands in a field, just off the highway. Its doors and windows are gone, and sunlight filters through gaps in the thick timbers. Its roof sags under its own weight. Behind the cabin, Montana’s Tobacco Root Mountains rise like a painted backdrop. Brown foothills dusted with pine trees give way to jagged gray peaks in the distance. The road and a barbed-wire fence are the only other human structures in sight. Continue reading Trucks Like Tree Rings