Montana Backpacking in the Beartooths

Marilyn and I live in southern Montana just a few miles from Yellowstone, and a big chunk of our business is guided Yellowstone backpacking trips. And our Yellowstone backpacking adventures are wonderful! Let’s face it — there is only one Yellowstone, and about 95% of the park is roadless back-country that is wild and teeming with wildlife. Due to the volcanic plateau and caldera topography that dominates most of the park, most of our Yellowstone backpacking routes are fairly mellow, over rolling terrain without many long or steep ups or downs. The eastern boundary of the park, though, is mountainous (the Absarokas), as is the northwestern corner of Yellowstone, where the Gallatin Range rises above the volcanic highland. But most of the rest of the park is wild but relatively gentle terrain that’s perfect for wildlife!

By contrast, look at any large-scale map of the region, however, and you’ll notice a large blank area with no roads just to the northeast of the park. This area, the million acre Absaroka-Beartooth Wilderness, may be blank on the map, but on the ground the Absaroka-Beartooth is chock full of natural wonders in a jaw-dropping setting of glaciated alpine peaks, tundra plateaus, lakes galore, spectacular stream and river valleys and huge vistas across a vast alpine upland that reminds us of the Alaskan tundra! While the northern end of the sprawling volcanic Absaroka Mountain Range is within the Wilderness area, about two thirds of the Absaroka-Beartooth Wilderness is occupied by the towering granitic Beartooth Range, the highest range in the Rocky Mountains north of Wyoming. That’s where we backpack.

Of course, as part of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, the Absaroka-Beartooth supports bears, wolves, elk, mule deer, bighorn sheep, mountain goats, marmots and other wild species, but the biggest attraction on our guided backpacking trips in the Beartooths  is the amazing alpine mountain scenery and summer wildflowers. In fact, partly due to its unusual (in the U.S.) east-west topographical orientation, the Beartooths have a greater variety of alpine (above tree-line) flowering plants than any other mountain range in the Rockies!

We meet our clients in Bozeman, Montana for our annual scheduled trip in the Beartooths, and this year’s trip dates are July 29 to August 3. For an astounding alpine adventure in an iconic chunk of wild Montana, our guided Beartooth backpacking trips can’t be beat!

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