All roads lead to Red Lodge. One, however, has been labeled as among the most scenic routes in Montana. With views of the Stillwater River Valley and Absaroka- Beartooth Mountain Range, Highway 78 is sure to offer an experience that even the locals deem amazing.
Highway 78 is a 47 mile two-lane road, spanning from the I-90 Junction at Columbus to Red Lodge, MT. This route winds its way through the Stillwater Valley and Carbon County, passing beautiful rolling hills and magnificent views of the Stillwater River and Beartooth Mountains. Wildlife and historical buildings are also plentiful along this stretch of road. Allow yourself a whole day to experience all the things that can be seen and done along Highway 78.
Attractions along Highway 78:
- Fishing Accesses: Stop for fishing or a picnic at one of the various fishing accesses along Highway 78, including Fireman's Point and Swinging Bridge.
- Beartooth Ranch: Once owned by Mel Gibson, this ranch is one of the largest and most scenic in the Stillwater Valley.
- Absarokee's Old-Fashioned Drive-In: Offering shakes and burgers, this drive-in gives customers a unique dining experience reminiscent of the 1950's.
- Shopping and Dinning in a Small Montana Town: There are several little towns along Highway 78, all with less than 2,000 full-time residents. Columbus, Absarokee, Fishtail and Roscoe all offer souvenirs from local vendors and artists, as well as authentic Montana cuisine from one of their various restaurants.
- Big Red Barns: This stretch of road is notorious for being littered with several brilliant red barns that tower above the green fields they were built on.
- Hiking, Camping and Fishing in the West Rosebud Valley: Past Fishtail, there are several opportunities to hike, camp and fish at various points along the West Rosebud River, including Emerald and Mystic Lakes.
- Historic Points: This area is rich with historical buildings and events, including old school houses, Lewis and Clark's Expedition, and the Bozeman Trail. Stop at one of the “Historical Point” road signs and read about this area's history.
- Views of the Beartooth Mountains: From Columbus to Red Lodge, there is always a breathtaking view of the Beartooth Mountains.
- From Interstate 90: Take Exit 408 at Columbus. Travel south through town, across the Yellowstone Bridge and veer right at the fork in the road.
- From Red Lodge: At the North end of town, take a left off Highway 212 onto Highway 78.
The best time to travel Highway 78 is during the late spring/early summer. The grass is often greener, and the baby animals are plentiful. Also, rush hour can get very busy with the numerous commuters in this area, so try to schedule your drive accordingly.
Lastly, remember to take it easy. Slow down and turn your lights on; this is a two-lane highway with lots of wildlife. You don't want to risk hitting any critters!
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