Beartooth Highway Finally Reopens After 12 Days; 10-Foot Snow Drifts Cleared

After 12 days, the famed Beartooth Highway is open again. Ten foot snow drifts and avalanches kept the roadway closed but now WYDOT is optimistic it will stay open through the summer.

Jimmy Orr

June 09, 20222 min read

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It’s been 12 long days, but Beartooth Highway has opened up — again.

The most “beautiful highway in America,” as it’s been called, links the northeast entrance of Yellowstone National Park to Red Lodge, Montana.

Nearly two weeks ago, it opened up for the season. But it was only a cameo appearance.

Twenty four hours later it was closed again.

Winter came back. Big time.

Some sections of the highway had more than 10 feet of snow. Couple that with avalanches on the Montana side of the highway and a 12-day closure doesn’t seem that out of the ordinary. 

Now, however, optimism is flowing.

“Now that temperatures are warming up, it should stay open for the rest of the summer,” said Cody Beers, a Wyoming Department of Transportation spokesman.

No guarantees though as it has snowed every month out of the year on the highway.

“These types of storms aren’t unusual at all,” Beers said, noting that storms over Memorial Day and Labor Day weekends are somewhat expected.

Despite the unpredictable weather, it’s a drive not to be missed, Beers said.

“It’s one of the most scenic views on the planet,” he said. “It’s awesome. It’s worth the drive. If you’ve never driven it, you should.”

Beers said a highway like Beartooth could never be built today but back in the 1930s there was a tremendous push to open up a road to Yellowstone from Montana.  

“It was a herculean effort,” he said. “People look forward to it. It’s one of the greatest drives in our country.”

Twenty two miles of Beartooth Highway are located in Wyoming. But the state doesn’t have jurisdiction over the road. That’s still a Yellowstone responsibility.

Beers said it’s what’s known as an “orphan road” — a road that exists within a state but another entity maintains it.

Beers mentioned that there are some ongoing closures, however. From Monday through Thursday between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m., the road is closed for construction. There are no closures Friday through Sunday.

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Jimmy Orr

Executive Editor

A third-generation Wyomingite, Jimmy Orr is the executive editor and co-founder of Cowboy State Daily.