I love scenic byways. They promise to share interesting drives and breathtaking views. Beartooth Highway and Chief Joseph Scenic Byway do not disappoint.
Advice: Fill your fuel tank. Check your oil. Make sure your tire pressure is good. Take a few snacks, a picnic, and something to drink. Throw your jacket in the backseat. Plan for a full day of driving and stopping. When going downhill, downshift to avoid burning your brakes. And enjoy the views!
Beartooth Highway (aka US-212) runs from Red Lodge, Montana into Wyoming and back up to Cooke City, Montana. Chief Joseph Scenic Byway (Route 296) starts (or stops) along the Beartooth Highway in Wyoming and ends (or begins!) at route 120.
We started our scenic drive in Red Lodge, Montana on the Beartooth Highway, reached the peak of 10, 947’ elevation, heading toward Cooke City. However, we did not go to Cooke City as we chose to make a loop back toward Red Lodge by taking the Chief Joseph Scenic Byway until it ended, then took route 120 back into Montana and crossed back to Red Lodge on route 308. This was an all-day event. There was some smoke haze in the air due to wildfires from Colorado and California, but it did not take away from the beauty gifted to us on this drive. My pictures might give you a sense of it, but I hope you get a chance to experience it for yourself.
One last thought for fellow RVers … although we saw people driving large motorhomes or pulling their RVs on these byways, we enjoyed the views much more because we did not have the added stress of worrying about our rig going around tight switchbacks, dealing with steep grades, or having space to park at various turnoffs.
Enjoy the ride and the views!
Scenes from the Beartooth Highway:
Scenes from the Chief Joseph Scenic Byway (last picture is of the town of Red Lodge):