Route: 173-miles give or take a few miles depending on if, and how many side roads you take.
Time: One long day or as part of a weekend adventure if you want to stop and see all of the attractions along the way.
Roads: On this road you get a little pavement, a little gravel, and a lot of turns to keep you awake! Note that they may have snow patches on them even during the summer. It’s best to ask on either side of the pass before getting into it.
Google Maps Full Route Guide: Map Link
For those of you who like to feel the pit of your stomach in your throat, want to climb over 11,000-foot passes, come curving around bends with guard rails that are just as likely to give your bike an extra push in the air opposed to slow it down on impact, and love to take in astonishing scenery on two wheels. The Beartooth Pass in Southern Montana is a road built for you!
Will start this route off in Billings Montana and work our way through the Beartooth Pass finishing off at the North entrance to the Yellowstone National Park. From here the options for road trip adventures can continue on into the park or motor-on north.
A look at the Moss Mansion through the lens of yesteryear. This is and was a very impressive estate that still holds its majestic appeal today. When in Billings, it’s worth a look.
The closest major city from which to start your Beartooth Pass adventure is Billings Montana. Billings offers up some excellent sightseeing options to do on your motorbike before leaving the city. Around Billings, you could drive out to the Rimrocks for some hiking and to get a great view of the city. You could make your way to Pictograph State Park to see some sites dating back thousands of years. You could even swing by the popular Montana Zoo in Billings. However, for something to get you thinking about possible promising business ventures or how you’d design your next 28-bedroom home. It’s worth motoring out to Moss Mansion.
Just when you thought coffee dates couldn’t get any better, wait ‘till your having one with a motorbike. MoAV Coffee is a great place to warm up your engine.
The Moss Mansion is a massive 3-story family home built with 28-rooms for the former owner Preston Boyd Moss. Moss was a businessman who had his hands in everything from lumber yards to banking and utility companies. The house features a stunning garden, marble fireplaces, walls with gold-threading, and is still decorated with original furnishings. You can do a self-tour, but the guided tours are naturally more informative. If you happen to be in the city in the evenings, you can take in some ghost stories at the facility.
If you only have time for the standard pre-ride coffee before heading out on the road. Check out MoAV Coffee for your friendly biker-accented coffee shop. MoAV roast their own beans, brew great coffee, and you can regularly find motorbikes making up some of the atmosphere inside the coffee shop. If you’ve rolled-up on a freshly washed Honda Cub, maybe they’ll let you bring it inside to play with the other Hondas ☺
Just look at the grill marks on that Carbon County Steak. If that doesn’t bring your bike stretching to a stop or your leather chaps quivering. I’m not sure what will.
Billings to Red Lodge 60-miles
From Billings you’re going to head southwest out of the city on the I-90, then turn onto the 212 at Laurel. Eventually, you’ll work your way down to Red Lodge and just outside of here, the Beartooth pass will begin at the Gallatin National Forest. The National Forest was founded in 1899 and is comprised of over 1.8-million acres of forest. A real beauty all its own, the drive through on the Beartooth will only make it better.
If you’re looking to grab some fuel for yourself before heading out over the pass, motor-up to Carbon County Steak House. The steak house is a reflection of the Montana rural area and is dress-up in a Cowboy-chic look. Reviews note comments like “Would give 10 stars if possible!” They’ll be happy to see you in the leather pants that came off the back of their steaks, and you’ll likely blend right in with the locals.
Sleeping Options Along The Beartooth
Anyone looking to make a weekend out of this route, or if you’re coming in late from another drive, there are many sleeping options of all variations along the way. Just as you enter from this side of the trip, there is the Two Bears Inn Bed and Breakfast. I think the name pretty much sums up what you could expect here. There is also the Rock Creek Resort a little further up the road. Rock Creek is your standard 3-star hotel with great views and slightly dated rooms. Then, for those of you wanting to pitch your tent, the pass is full of camping options. Just 9-miles up from the Two Bear, however, is a little side road with several camping options in one stop. Greenough Campground has the most reviews of the lot, but they’re close enough you can zip back and forth between them to do your own inspection first.
Beartooth Pass Sleeping Options
- Two Bears Inn Bed and Breakfast
- Rock Creek Resort
- Greenough Campground
- A number of other campgrounds along the pass
Image: Jan Horgen via Google
The Rock Creek Vista is a must stop along the way. Either to let your bike cool down at the 9,000-foot level, or to stretch your legs from all the tense holding on they’ve been doing to your fuel tank.
Sightseeing Points Along The Beartooth. Lake Fork Trailhead to Rock Creek Vista Point 12-miles
While you bend, and peg scrape, or burn up your brakes along the pass. You’ll likely want to give you and the bike as many options for quick breaks and little stops along the way as possible. For those of you who like to do a bit of off-asphalt exploring, you can drive out to the Lake Fork Trailhead for some excellent views of the area. There is a hike from here that will bring you to some nice fishing too.
Rock Creek Vista Point to Beartooth Basin Summer Ski 7.2-miles
A little further up the road and a bit further up in the air is the Rock Creek Vista Point. Sitting at 9,190-feet, you’ll have some impressive views to marvel at over the vast forest below. Most people that stop here are happy for the bathroom break and enjoyed sharing their lunch with the local chipmunks.
A look at the Cat with the lightest work schedule of all ski hills in America. This cute little Cat is typically only employed from late May to early July
Beartooth Basin Summer Ski to Beartooth Pass Vista Point 0.5-miles
To mix up your summer motorcycle ride with what would usually be winter skiing. Stop by the lifts and trade your tire tread for slick skis at the Beartooth Basin Summer Ski. One of the few places in America where you can actually ski in Summer. Even if you don’t ski, the motorcycle ride up here is, and you can sit and enjoy a beverage while watching others slip and slide down the ski hill. The season is generally late May to early July, weather dependent of course.
Beartooth Pass Vista Point to Top of The World Store 8.7-miles
Up and up we go, and as you do the views get better and better. At over 10,000-feet, you can make your next stop at the Beartooth Pass Vista Point for a full 360o view. It’ll likely be chilly up here so stay bundled and keep an eye on the road. As you can never be sure that there will not be snow on the road no matter what time of year it is, we suggest you drive with caution. At the Vista Point, you can likely get in a good snowball fight or hike around to different viewpoints.
A flag firmly planted at the Top of The World.
Top of The World Store to Clay Butte Lookout 5.9-miles
Located on the Wyoming side of this drive, the Top of The World Store is just as it sounds. Sitting at 9,400-feet, the store is a must stop along the way to pick up everything from souvenirs to food and drinks. They also sell fishing licenses, fuel, ice cream, artwork, camping supplies, and can even set you up with a place to sleep. The views are impressive as the rest of this route, and you’re likely to see some wildlife in the area.
Coming this way one of the final lookout posts is the Clay Butte Lookout. The detour is along a winding gravel road, keep that in mind for the type of bike you are on and how much it likes gravel. Once you get to the top though, you’ll be rewarded with outstanding views, a bathroom break and some options to grab some good while you’re here. You can even take a hike up to the old fire tower for better pictures, or to try and get some cell phone reception!
Sightseeing Points Beartooth Pass
- Lake Fork Trailhead
- Rock Creek Vista Point
- Beartooth Basin Summer Ski
- Beartooth Pass Vista Point
- Top Of The World Store
- Clay Butte Lookout
Wow, look at this shot by @cadencrawford from the lookout at Clay Butte. Stunning!
The End of This Line. Clay Butte Lookout to Yellowstone National Park North Entrance 79-miles
As this incredible Beartooth pass comes down out of the gripping heights, through the Gallatin National Forest and meanders along the river Lamar River. You can take the Grand Loop Road, the 79-miles towards the Yellowstone National Park North Entrance. From here you can continue the adventure in and around the Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming, or make your way North towards Bozeman and get to know some more of Montana’s Big Sky beauty.