Skip to main content

2016 Summer Mountain Trip Part 14; US Route 212 on the Beartooth Highway

The morning following visiting Theodore Roosevelt National Park and Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument I headed west on I-90/US 212 from Hardin.  At Exit 434 I split away from I-90 over the Yellowstone River on US 212 headed towards the Wyoming State Line via the Bear Tooth Highway.


The Beartooth Highway is a 68.7 All-American Road section of US Route 212 from Red Lodge, Montana west to the Northeast Entrance of Yellowstone National Park.  The Beartooth Highway highway is notable for climbing over the 10,947 foot Beartooth Pass of the Beartooth Mountains (a sub-range of the Rocky Mountains) located near the Montana/Wyoming State Line.

The Beartooth Highway closely aligns to a path that Civil War General Phillip Sheridan took in 1872 returning to Billings from an inspection tour of Yellowstone National Park.  A roadway was completed over Beartooth Pass in 1936 and became part of US 12 in 1939.

USends.com on US 12 End Points

In 1959 US 12 was rerouted to Missoula and US 312 was commissioned to take over the former routing from Forsyth over Bear Tooth Pass to the Northeast Entrance of Yellowstone.

USends.com on US 312 End Points

In 1962 the current designation of US 212 was rerouted over Bear Tooth Pass to the Northeast Entrance of Yellowstone.

USends.com US 212 End Points

As stated above the Beartooth Highway designation of US 212 begins in Red Lodge, specifically at the junction with MT 78.  Red Lodge is the current Carbon County Seat, the community historically has roots in mining.  Coal was discovered near Red Lodge in 1866 followed by Gold deposits in 1870.  It wasn't until 1880 treaty with the Crow Nation that allowed American settlers to move into the Red Lodge area by 1882.  Red Lodge had a peak population of about 6,000 residents by 1915 but the community started to decline with the mines.  When the Beartooth Highway opened in 1936 it revitalized Red Lodge given it had direct access to Yellowstone National Park.  US 212 and Beartooth Highway traverse Red Lodge on Broadway Avenue.



Red Lodge lies at about 5,500 feet above sea level.  The Beartooth Highway/US 212 leaves Red Lodge headed west along Rock Creek which quickly enters a large canyon.


The Beartooth Highway/US 212 ascends four massive switch backs and rises several thousand feet above Rock Creek.  The road grade is surprisingly steady but rockfall was a constant hazard.







The Beartooth Highway/US 212 ascends into an Alpine climate and over the State Line into Park County Wyoming.






Numerous alpine lakes line the Beartooth Highway/US 212 approaching Beartooth Pass.




Despite the somewhat flat surface there is very little obstruction of the surrounding terrain from the 10,947 foot Beartooth Pass.







The Beartooth Highway/US 212 descends from Beartooth Pass to Wyoming State Route 296 where it picks up Lake Creek.




The Beartooth Highway/US 212 continues northwest from WY 296 and enters Park County, Montana.  The Beartooth Highway/US 212 enters the communities of Cooke City and Silver Gate before ending at the Northwest Gate of Yellowstone National Park at the Wyoming State Line.  Cooke City and Silver Gate are inhabited year round which means that winter access is made through Yellowstone National Park to US 89 in Gardiner as Beartooth Pass closes seasonally.






Part 15 of this series can be found here:

2016 Summer Mountain Trip Part 15; Yellowstone National Park and the Grand Loop Road

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Paper Highways; California State Route 1 through the Lost Coast

For all the accolades and praise that California State Route 1 gets for being a top notch coastal highway one fact tends to get overlooked; the highway was never finished!  In this edition of Paper Highways we look at the failed path of California State Route 1 through the Lost Coast.



Part 1; the history of Legislative Route 56 and California Route 1 through the Lost Coast

The Lost Coast region consists of the undeveloped coastal areas of Humboldt County, Mendocino County, and the King Range.  The Lost Coast region roughly spans from near Rockport in Mendocino County north to Ferndale of Humboldt County.  The Lost Coast region is known for having rugged terrain which rivals what is seen in Big Sur.  The Lost Coast has several small communities such as; Shelter Cove, Whitehorn, and Petrolia.

In 1933 Legislative Route 56 was extended south to LRN 2 (US 101) near Las Cruces and north to Ferndale to LRN 1 (also US 101).  Prior to 1933 the legislative description of LRN 56 had it's nort…

Where the hell is Hill Valley? (US Route 8 south/US Route 395 east)

Recently I made a visit to Universal Studios near Los Angeles.  While on the back lot tour I came across a piece of infamous movie-borne fictional highway infamy; the location of town square of Hill Valley, California on US Route 8/US Route 395.


The above photo is part of the intro scene to the first Back-to-the-Future movie which was set in 1985. To anyone who follows roadways the signage error of US 8 meeting US 395 in California is an immediately notable error.  For one; US 8 doesn't even exist anywhere near California with present alignment being signed as an east/west highway between Norway, Michigan and Forest Lake, Minnesota.  To make matters worse US 8 is signed as a southbound route and US 395 (a north/south highway) is signed as an eastbound route.  At minimum the cut-out US 8 and US 395 shields somewhat resemble what Caltrans used in the 1980s.

Assuming Hill Valley is located on what would have been US 395 by 1985 what locales would be a viable real world analog?  US 39…

US Route 99 to Visalia?...

Something that I noticed awhile back while doing map research regarding US Route 99 in Fresno was that the highway intended to be originally routed through the City of Visalia.



The early originally planned alignment of US Route 99 in Visalia

To be clear US 99 was never actually routed through Visalia and ended up bypassing the City in favor of a direct route from Goshen southeast to Tulare.  US 99 within San Joaquin Valley was aligned over Legislative Route 4 which in turn was added to the State Highway System as part of the 1909 First State Highway Bond Act.  LRN 4 for a time was aligned through Visalia via; Mineral King Avenue, Main Street, and Mooney Boulevard.  This early alignment of LRN 4 through Visalia can be seen on the 1924 Division of Highways State Map.


The initial draft of the US Route System was approved by the Secretary of Agriculture during November of 1925.  The US Route System with in California was approved by California Highway Commission with no changes recommended…