- Beartooth Mountains are home to hundreds of alpine lakes created by glacial melt or rivers dammed by landslides.
- Most of these lakes are at higher elevations and either frozen or inaccessible during the winter.
- Opportunities to camp and hike along these mountain lakes.
- Some lakes do not yield fish, contact the rangers station before fishing.
Scattered throughout the Beartooth Mountains are sparkling alpine lakes, as blue as the sky. Many years ago, these lakes were either created as rivers dammed by landslides or formed by glacial melt. These lakes are excellent for summer fishing, hiking, and camping.
There are hundreds to thousands of lakes scattered throughout the Beartooth Mountains. From Red Lodge to Cooke City, numerous lake campgrounds and trailheads can be accessed via US 212. Lakes along this route include Greenough Lake, 8 miles south of Red Lodge; Beartooth Lake, 15 miles north of Cooke City; and several mountain lakes scattered atop the Beartooth Plateau. Wild Bill Lake is located along the Ski Run Road, southwest of Red Lodge. Along the East Rosebud Creek south of Roscoe, MT, there are several creek-fed lakes including the East Rosebud Lake. The West Rosebud Valley south of Fishtail, boasts Emerald and Mystic Lakes, beautiful cobalt blue lakes.
These lakes are open year-round. However, most are at high elevations and are frozen for most of the year. The lakes at the top of the Beartooth Plateau are inaccessible during the winter months due to road closure of the Beartooth Scenic Byway.
Camping is popular along the beautiful lakes of the Beartooth Mountains. Emerald Lake Campground offers near-by access to Emerald and Mystic Lakes. This campground also offers fishing and hiking opportunities. Emerald Lake campground offers a variety of amenities including fire-rings, toilets, tables, and hand-pumped water.
At the top of the Beartooth Plateau along the Beartooth Scenic Byway, hundreds of lakes freckle the horizon. Here, there are several scenic pullouts that serve as starting points for day hikes. At 10,000 feet, hikers have the opportunity to explore these crystal clear lakes, eat a picnic, or watch the mountain goats gather.
Only some lakes boast fish, whether naturally fed or stocked. So, if you are visiting these mountain lakes to catch trout or walleye, make sure you contact the ranger’s station first.
- Deep Lake
This lake is the result of an 800-foot dam formed by a landslide, and it is one of the largest and most popular fishing lakes in the Beartooth Mountains.
- Beartooth Lake
Located along the Beartooth Scenic Highway, Beartooth Lake is a great summer fishing destination where wakeless boat fishing is permitted.
- Island Lake
Known for Brook and Rainbow Trout, Island Lake is a popular fishing area year-round but especially after melted snow permits easier access.
- Lilly Lake
Non-motorized anglers are permitted to fish on Lilly Lake, known for its rainbow trout and grayling population.
- Rock Creek Drainage
The Rock Creek Drainage area, closest to Red Lodge, MT, covers approximately 623 square miles, containing 91 lakes in the Beartooth Mountains that average between 16 and 100 feet deep.
Wyoming has twenty-six of the lakes, Montana has 63, and 2 lakes are shared. Wild Bill and Greenough Lakes are the only lakes accessible by car.
Beartooth Ranger District
Red Lodge, MT 59068
Tel: (406) 446-2103