Monday, June 25 – Red Lodge, Montana

Mary Ann’s cousin, Charlene, arrived from Ohio for a visit on Thursday with a wish list of things to do. Yesterday, after significant discussion, we decided to drive to Red Lodge, Montana. The point was not to visit Red Lodge, a town with a name but not even a dot on our AAA map. The point was to travel US Route 212 from the Yellowstone northeast entrance to Red Lodge. The journey was the actual destination in this case.

To understand the rationale, take a look at the photo gallery on this website: Charles Kuralt declared US 212 one of the two most scenic roads in the nation (the other being Going to the Sun Road in Glacier National Park). I didn’t know what to expect but since this summer is all about adventure we just had to do it. Mary Ann declared early on that everyone has to watch out for moose, whether photogenic or not.

First we had to get to the northeast entrance which involved travelling over some of the most dramatic roads I’ve ever seen… to that point. In places the road has about 12 inches of shoulder followed by air and hundreds of feet of vertical drop. No guard rails. We also passed hills, fields and mountains strewn with huge rocks and boulders, some as big as buses, I assume left over from the explosion that created the Yellowstone caldera.

Once outside the park we made our way east on US 212 and soon the fun began. We climbed. And climbed and climbed and climbed. The air temperature dropped some 20 degrees and we topped off at some 11,000 feet. The views were spectacular and we made so many photo stops we turned what was planned to be a 2 hour trip into a 4 hour photofest. We passed sections where snow was piled higher than the roof of the truck. Some of the cutbacks were so tight and so stacked that we could see clearly into last week. With a truck about the size of Rhode Island and highly susceptible to gravity, the technical portions of this road were all the more challenging, particularly as we drove downhill.

We traveled along at the top of the ridge for a mile or so where we stopped for this photo:

View on the ridge of Beartooth Highway

Disney has nothing on this place 😉

As we made our way toward the downhill side we spotted a snow field in which people were sledding and playing in the snow wearing sneakers covered with plastic bags. Mary Ann shot this photo of some wiseguy in the snow.

Abominable snowman?

We grabbed a very late lunch (3:00 in the afternoon) at one of the disproportionately numerous dining establishments in Red Lodge before turning back for home. The quickest route back was to head east out of Red Lodge and then south to Cody, where we stopped for another DQ visit. A certain member of our family is hooked on Blizzards.

About 20 miles from the Yellowstone east gate we approached a cluster of cars partially off the road and a group of people off to the south side of the road staring in the direction of the Shoshone River. Mary Ann spotted it first : moose! So we slowed and then joined the impromptu viewing zone. The female moose and her calf were less than 50 yards from the side of the road and were very content to pose for the 20 or so onlookers gawking at them.


We were back in our RV by 8:15.


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One Response to Monday, June 25 – Red Lodge, Montana

  1. char says:

    I love this review of a very perfect day!