The Beartooths, Montana’s Ultimate Mountains

Montana • August 6-11, 2018 • $1,900

beartooth-backpackingJust northeast of Yellowstone is a vast alpine domain of Montana’s highest and most spectacular peaks. We’ll be backpacking in the Absaroka-Beartooth Wilderness in the Custer National Forest. Glaciers, alpine tundra, and hundreds of clear, icy lakes characterize this high-altitude wilderness. Subalpine forests of spruce, fir, and whitebark pine are interspersed with flower strewn meadows. The granite peaks are spectacular, and we may see mountain goat, bear, moose, and other wildlife. Portions of our trekking route will be off-trail and above tree line. When backpacking here, prepare for any kind of weather on this fairly strenuous trip based in Bozeman, Montana, unless we tell you otherwise.

The Absaroka-Beartooth is one of our larger Wilderness areas, and one of the most spectacular mountain regions anywhere. It includes landscapes of valley, mountain, lake and stream the lie entirely over 10,000 feet in elevation, and it may be the closest thing to Arctic Alaska that one can find in the temperate latitudes of the lower 48 states.

We vary our Beartooth route from year to year. Occasionally, we run this Montana hiking trip out of Gardiner, not Bozeman, depending upon which of our Beartooth routes we choose to hike in a given year. Either way, if you’re flying, you’ll fly into Bozeman, Montana.

yellowstone-stanTREK BASE:  The Bozeman Comfort Inn is at 1370 N. 7th (406) 587-2322. The Comfort Inn has an airport shuttle (call in advance). If we utilize Gardiner, Montana, it’s the Absaroka Lodge, Route 89 at Yellowstone River Bridge, Gardiner MT, 800-755-7414 or 406-848-7414. But assume you’re meeting us in Bozeman unless we inform you otherwise.

MEETING TIME: Pre-trip orientation plus food and gear handout and safety talk at 6 PM the evening prior to the first day of the trip. Meet at the Bozeman Comfort Inn unless notified otherwise.

TRANSPORTATION: Air service to Bozeman; the Comfort Inn has an airport shuttle. For transportation to Gardiner, rent vehicle. Major rental companies available. Or, Journey Rent-A-Car is economical and will give Big Wild Clients a 10% discount if you book by phone at 406-551-2277 and mention that you are a Big Wild Client. Amazing Taxi from airport to Gardiner at 406-223-5344 is another option, though more expensive.

TREK RATING: This trip is fairly strenuous at high elevations with lots of off-trail hiking.

ELEVATIONS: 8,000 to 11,000’ with higher altitudes possible on day-hikes. Maximum one-day elevation gain with backpack is 2,000 to 2,500’. Due to high elevations, we recommend that if possible, arrive in Montana a day or so early to begin acclimation.

fallen-guide-lakersWEATHER: Sunny mornings with clear chilly nights are typical, but afternoon thunderstorms can build up quickly. At these altitudes we must be prepared for anything from cold rain and snow to 80-degree heat.

SPECIAL FEATURES: Absolutely gorgeous alpine terrain, with big glaciers and Montana’s highest peaks. Granite Peak is 12,799’. Expansive alpine tundra plateaus with hundreds of icy lakes plus an unusual diversity of alpine and subalpine wildflowers; a true high mountain wonderland!

SPECIAL TIPS: There are bears, so leave deodorants and other good smelling things at the motel.

CONSERVATION: Most of the Beartooths are within the protected Absaroka-Beartooth Wilderness. However, climate change and other assorted affronts to good wilderness stewardship challenge us to keep the Beartooths pristine. The western half of the southern Wilderness boundary abuts a wild portion of Yellowstone National Park.

ITINERARY: We’ll vary the route from year to year, but expect at least a 1.5 to 2 hour drive to the trailhead from either Bozeman or Gardiner. There’ll be a mid-trip layover for day hiking or relaxing. Some routes are loops in which we end up either at or fairly near the original trailhead; others are “point A to point B” in which we arrange a vehicle shuttle.

Return to the main Montana backpacking trips page to view other related guided tours.

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Have questions? Call (406) 848-7000


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Annual Trip Calendar

Scheduled Montana Trips

At the link below, is information about our Montana backpacking and canoe trips, which also often include backpacking trips in Yellowstone Park.

Montana Backpacking Trips

Canoe Tour in Montana


Photo of Boulder Creek, from one of our Montana backpacking hikes

List prices include our complete gear package and there is a $300 discount if you bring your own (see our Canoeing List, Backpacking List, and/or Questionnaire for details – found here). Also, we offer a $300 discount for the second trip in a calendar year. Scheduled trips are for persons ages 14 and over. Exceptions to the age requirement will be made by us on a case-by-case basis.

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