Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Beartooth Scenic Highway

Before I write about our drive yesterday I want to give you an update on the forest fire we saw Saturday. According to the Billings Gazette, the fire had started a couple of hours before we came into the area. By Sunday morning it had burned 7,800 acres and about 8 families in the Columbus town area had to be evacuated. Fortunately Sunday night this area had a nice steady rain, maybe that was able to quench the fire. Monday we drove a total of about 280 miles round trip to see the one of the most scenic highways in the country. We drove it in our little Fit and it was well worth every mile we drove. I will show here the first view of the mountains which we saw as we started out on that road trip. The mountains are a bit washed out because of the sun being so bright. That is all right, rather have that than a heavy cloud cover over them!
Beartooth highway begins at 5,600 feet and the road climbs steadily via numerous switchbacks until it reaches a plateau of 11,00 feet. On our drive up we were able to view various vistas of the mountain valley seen in the picture below. It is quite a breath-taking scene!
 The sights from the plateau, on the tundra, were equally impressive. When we arrived there the wind was quite fierce and it was sleeting. During the brief time we took to hike around the plateau we got quite cold, probably it was around 20 degrees fahrenheit. We were now closer to the ice fields which we had been seeing on our way up.
From the plateau we could look down below the timber line and see pine forests, also several lakes spread out below from where we were standing. According to the tour books from this summit we can see for 75 miles. What a view!
 We drove as far as Cook city Wyoming, and close to the entrance of Yellowstone Park, before turning around and heading back to Billings. We took a different route on our return home, so I will save that for my next posting.

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