this can only end well…
As we exited the Lamar Valley and slowly began to increase elevation, the hordes of fellow tourists began to trickle off, as most visitors turned around to return to Jackson or West Yellowstone. Originally we had contemplated leaving Jackson and heading south or east, but our hosts told us in no uncertain terms “if you’re here, on a motorcycle – you’ve got to ride through Beartooth Pass”. We are quite lucky to have received that piece of advice, because the Beartooth Highway proved to be one of the most spectacular rides of the trip. Located on the Montana/Wyoming Border, this winding road is an All-American Highway, and has been called the most beautiful drive in America.
Our photos don’t do this place justice, but do a quick google image search to see some breathtaking images. Hot and humid down in the park, the temperature consistently dropped with elevation, and the we crested the top of the pass to snow-covered fields and sweeping views of the mountains.
Just before the pass there is a small tourist-trap type settlement where we stopped to refuel and prep for the ride ahead
After sitting through some construction and cresting the flat top of the pass, the long descent began. I quickly lost track of the number of 180 degree hairpin turns we were taking, but I clearly remember the sheer drop-offs on one side of the road, and just how short those guard rails looked close-up. We were still only a few days in of full riding, and I was still gaining comfort and confidence on the bike so was a bit apprehensive. An experienced rider on a sport bike would surely have a more exhilarating ride down.
After successfully negotiating the pass, we decided to push on Eastward towards a presumed campsite in the Custer National Forest.
First we headed north to Billings, then decided to jump on 90 for a short spell and then take Route 212 across Montana to the big blob of green that hopefully held our resting spot for the evening. It took us a lot longer than originally anticipated to get through Yellowstone and the Pass, so the sun began setting as we turned onto 212 and entered the Indian Reservations. As buildings became sparser and road signs disappeared, we slowed down a bit so as not to have any unexpected confrontations with critters running across the road. By the time we reached the National Forest it was nearly 11:00, with no signs or maps indicating campsites nearby. After some brief consultation, we struck out under the magnificently starry skies to the nearby town of Broadus, population 400, and the “Wavingest Town in the West”
After a few beers with some colorful locals, we decided to shack up in the only motel in town, and strike out again in the morning. While we only put in about 450 miles that day, it sure felt like a whole lot more!
Stay tuned for some videos from the Pass.