Beartooth Highway and Back to Gardiner

The week before our wedding, we were pretty busy. Between getting ready for the wedding festivities, visiting with our friends and family, and enjoying Gardiner, our home when we worked at a rafting company in Montana. We had tons for fun, but there wasn’t much time to tell you about it. How about a little recap?

When we were planning our road trip from Indiana to Montana, I threw out the idea of driving the Beartooth Highway into Yellowstone, through to Gardiner. Paul said he had never driven that highway, so I was even more determined to share it with him. We had driven to Red Lodge, Montana late the night before and set up camp. Ok, I was exhausted, like sleeping in the car, can’t make complete sentences exhausted, so really it was Paul who set up camp. (Reason #387 why I think I’ll keep him.)

Camp ground.

When we woke up, we drove into Red Lodge to grab breakfast, intending to hit the road pretty soon. But the town was so cute that we ended up just wanting to wander around awhile. There was an antique car show going one and music playing all along the main street. It was so quaint and adorable that we had to take it all in. The town was a little touristy, but that’s part of the reason it had so much going on. We’re already hoping to visit again sometime.

On the Beartooth Highway

When we finally hit the road, the sun was out and the weather was perfect. The view along the Beartooth are nothing short of awe-inspiring. No wonder National Geographic listed it as one of the top 100 scenic drives of all time. If you have the opportunity to drive it, do it!

View from the Beartooth Highway

The road lead straight into Cooke City, the northeast entrance to Yellowstone. Its one of the least used entrances to the park so its rustic charm is easy to maintain. Its even less touristy than Gardiner, with only a few restaurants, one that cooked meat on an outdoor pit and one whose bathroom was wallpapered with cardboard from beer cartons. That rustic. We grabbed lunch there along with the first huckleberry milkshake of the trip before heading into the park.

Cooke City

Our first moose sighting came early and then we remembered why we get annoyed by the park in high tourist season: traffic. Its really exciting to see wildlife, but keep driving, people! After being stuck in a bear jam (for a black bear over 300 yards away) for awhile, we were pretty anxious to get out.

Moose

We finally made it to Gardiner at about 2:25 and decided to stop by The Flying Pig, our rafting company, to see who was there. We immediately ran into our friend, Molly, who was about to take out the 3:00 raft. In typical Paul fashion, he immediately took her up on an off for us to ride along. So we dug swimsuits out of the overpacked car and hopped on the river. Ahhh….so much fun.

Yellowstone

By the time we were done, it was time to meet my family for dinner. It couldn’t have been a better first day back in our Montana home.

The Mighty Yellowstone River
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