Beartooth Mountains, Montana
by Susan Ayers
(Fort Worth, TX)
Beartooth Peak Montana
Oh where to begin... I learned to ride at the age of 40 and haven't stopped since. Every year the boyfriend and I spend 10-13 days on the road. We have gone to DC and down the Blue Ridge. Across Tennessee, Kentucky, and Arkansas. I ride a 2000 V-Star 650 and he rides a 1999 Road King..
August 2009, 13 days and 3442 miles later, I managed to mark 7 items off my bucket list. What a ride.
Beartooth Pass and the Chief Joseph Scenic Byway are the two main roads through the Beartooth Mountains. Beartooth Pass peaks out at 10,947 feet, complete with glacial ice in August. It brings you out at Cooke City Montana, just outside the NE gate of Yellowstone. The Chief Joseph Byway is a lead off of Beartooth Pass and brings you down into Wyoming.
There just isn't an ugly spot on either roadway. There are twists, turns, breath taking views, and breath holding scary switchbacks. Both roadways are closed from October through March and even that is weather permitting. We came up the Beartooth and about one third the way up you come across this really big sign that says: "Road construction ahead, MOTORCYCLES USE EXTREME CAUTION". Hmmm...
We had to stop for a pilot truck to take us up the next one third of the pass. 18 miles of loose dirt and gravel. Not the kind that makes up a dusty road. No, this is the kind that you should have a dirtbike for. The kind that when you transition from pavement to dirt? You just sink a few inches and hold your breath. Oh did I mention there are no guardrails? NONE... The only thing I knew to do was scoot forward on my seat, plant both feet on the boards, say a prayer, and switch to dirt bike brain mode. What a BLAST!
White knuckled and grinning the whole way up. The boyfriend is WAY back there and laughing at me. I have just regressed to my teenage, fearless years and man, if that doesn't make you feel good, nothing will.
We stayed 3 days in Cooke City and toured the park which is an amazing ride in itself. When we headed out, we came back out the Beartooth and turned down the Chief Joseph. The Chief Joseph follows along the river. Spectacular curves with tall walls and tall trees. It takes you through the local reservation and lots of pull offs for pictures.
I have probably 400+ pictures of the whole trip and you can see most of them and a ride report on my blog.
I hope you enjoy the read and feel free to follow along for the ride...