Photo © Mike Banville - AllTrips.com
Red Lodge, Montana is an area rich in history and adventure with endless recreation opportunities. Known as the Gateway to Yellowstone National Park through the scenic Beartooth Highway, Red Lodge is a quaint mountain town with a surprising abundance of restaurants and services. Western hospitality and a small town feel give way to the grandeur of the Absaroka-Beartooth Wilderness and surrounding mountains.
Traversing the Beartooth Plateau to Cooke City, Montana, the Beartooth Highway is a spectacular route through the tallest peaks in Montana and accesses the northeast entrance of Yellowstone National Park.
Named after the Nez Perce Indian tribe’s Chief Joseph and connecting to the Beartooth Highway just outside Cooke City, the 47 mile Chief Joseph Scenic Byway follows the historic route of the Nez Perce as they tried, unsuccessfully, to evade the US Calvary into Canada. The road passes through the Shoshone National Forest and the Absaroka Mountains.
Along the northeastern boundary of Yellowstone National Park, the Absaroka-Beartooth Wilderness protects some 944,000 acres of pristine land in both Montana and Wyoming. Spanning both the Absaroka and Beartooth Mountains, the area provides outstanding backpacking, fishing, and skiing opportunities.
Near Fort Smith, Montana the Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area showcases Bighorn Lake, river and the canyon that made the area famous. The Whitetail Dam, named after Crow Indian Chief Yellowtail, created the 71 mile Bighorn Lake which is a popular destination for fishing and boating.
The Yellowstone Wildlife Sanctuary promotes conservation and protection of Montana’s wildlife, caring for wildlife unable to return to their natural habitat. The center offers a unique opportunity to observe the animals in an intimate setting.
The Carbon County Museum in Rawlins, Wyoming showcases historic people, Native American Tribes who inhabited the areas, and the Union Pacific Railroad, which was instrumental in the development of the areas remote towns.
From Red Lodge, the northeast corner of Yellowstone is accessed via the Beartooth Highway through the small mountain towns of Cooke City and Silver Gate. Inside the park boundary, the Lamar Valley spans as far as the eye can see. With fishing along the Lamar River, various hiking trails, and the Slough Creek campground, this is definitely a place to spend some time.
The town of Red Lodge has several city parks including City Park and Lions Park. In addition, the City Pool and local Skateboard Park offer great pit stops for the kids.
Opportunities for recreation are only limited by the amount of time you have to spend in the area.
From December through March and often into April and May, winter abounds with miles of snowmobiling trails outside of Red Lodge on the Beartooth Highway and surrounding mountains. Skiing opportunities are available at local resorts as well as in the backcountry of the Absaroka and Beartooth Mountains.
With a relatively short summer season, optimum summer travel to Red Lodge and the surrounding area stretches from late June to early September. World class fishing in glacial lakes, countless trails for backpacking and hiking, and plenty of peaks to climb surround Red Lodge.
Other Area Attractions Resources
Absarokee, Montana sits along the Montana Dinosaur Trail.
Plan a vacation to the Black Hills of South Dakota.
Head over to Cody Wyoming to tour the Buffalo Bill Dam.