Make sure there’s gas in the tank, fresh batteries in the camera, an extra sweater in the back seat, and at least three hours to spare before setting out on the 68-mile-long Beartooth Highway.
Built in 1936 and now a National Scenic Byway, the road climbs to 10,947 feet and crosses alpine meadows and snowfields. The Beartooth Highway is closed by snow most of the year—most years it’s open from the end of May to mid-October.
The road climbs Rock Creek Canyon out of Red Lodge  and switches back four times, crossing as many vegetation zones, starting in a valley of Douglas fir and lodgepole pine and topping out in alpine meadows strewn with boulders and wildflowers. Near Beartooth Pass, pink snow betrays the presence of high-elevation algae.
Watch for the Bear’s Tooth, a tall spire left after a glacier devoured the rest of the peak. North of the summit of Beartooth Plateau, Granite Peak juts above the landscape.