Absaroka–Beartooth Wilderness

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Absaroka–Beartooth Wilderness
Absaroka-Beartooth Wilderness NPS1.jpg
Map showing the location of Absaroka–Beartooth Wilderness
Map showing the location of Absaroka–Beartooth Wilderness
LocationMontana / Wyoming, USA
Nearest cityRed Lodge, MT
Coordinates45°6′N 109°56′W / 45.100°N 109.933°W / 45.100; -109.933Coordinates: 45°6′N 109°56′W / 45.100°N 109.933°W / 45.100; -109.933
Area944,000 acres (3,820 km2)
Governing bodyU.S. Forest Service

Absaroka–Beartooth Wilderness was created from existing National Forest lands in 1978 [1][2] and is located in Montana and Wyoming, United States. The wilderness is partly in Gallatin, Custer and Shoshone National Forests and is composed of 944,000 acres (3,820 km2). The wilderness encompasses two distinct mountain ranges, namely the Beartooth and Absaroka ranges. These ranges are completely distinct geologically speaking with the Absarokas (/əbzɔːrˈkəz/) composed primarily of volcanic (or extrusive) and metamorphic rock, while the Beartooths are made up almost entirely of granitic rocks. The Absarokas are noted for their dark and craggy appearance, lush and heavily forested valleys and abundant wildlife. The highest peak in the range, located in Wyoming, is Francs Peak at 13,153 feet (4,009 m). The Beartooths are more alpine with huge treeless plateaus and the highest peak in the state of Montana (Granite Peak 12,799 feet (3,901 m)). The wilderness contains 30 peaks over 12,000 feet (3,700 m).[3] The wilderness is an integral part of the 20-million-acre (81,000 km2) Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem and borders Yellowstone National Park.

Wilderness areas do not allow motorized or mechanical equipment including bicycles. Although camping and fishing are allowed with proper permit, no roads or buildings are constructed and there is also no logging or mining, in compliance with the 1964 Wilderness Act. Wilderness areas within National Forests and Bureau of Land Management areas also allow hunting in season.

There are 700 miles (1,100 km) of trails in the wilderness, hundreds of lakes, a few dozen streams and a similar number of small glaciers can be found in the wilderness. The forests are dominated by various species of spruce, fir and pine while in the Beartooth Mountains, due to the altitude, tundra conditions often prevail. The Beartooths have the largest unbroken area of land in excess of 10,000 feet (3,000 m) in altitude in the U.S. outside of Alaska. Animals found in the wilderness include bald eagles and yellowstone cutthroat trout and the threatened grizzly bear and lynx as well as the gray wolf.

Access to the wilderness is difficult but can be achieved via the Beartooth Highway US 212 from Red Lodge, Montana. There are also some forest access roads from the west off of US 89 south from Livingston, Montana.


Phantom Creek Trail Trailhead in Absaroka–Beartooth Wilderness

The Absaroka–Beartooth Wilderness is full of beautiful landscapes. Below are some of the highlights:

Beartooth Panic[edit]

Regretfully, many visitors to the wilderness area are ill-prepared for hiking through wilderness areas. "Beartooth Panic" often comes to people who like the idea of wilderness exposure, but are unprepared for the lack of Cell site and Wi-Fi. Many people give up and expect helicopters to be sent out to them to pick them up and take them back to their cars. Others become disoriented, and helpless, when their Global Positioning System, cell phones and laptops don't work. Many carry maps[6] and a compass, but don't know how to use them. "Traditionally, wilderness has been used by those individuals willing to test the very substance of their body and soul. In the wilderness, humans are still at the mercy of natural forces. If you do not have innate survival skills, combined with the right training, you can be eaten by a bear or die in a storm. These risks were understood and accepted in the past. But that spirit seems foreign to a new breed of "outdoorsmen" who embrace the appearance but not the substance of adventure."[7]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Aarstad, Rich, et al. "Montana Place Names from Alzada to Zortman: A Montana Historical Society Guide". Montana Historical Society Press. Helena, Montana, 2009, p. 2
  2. ^ "Absaroka-Beartooth Wilderness". Wilderness.net. Retrieved 2012-02-19.
  3. ^ Aarstad, Rich, Ellie Arguimbau, Ellen Baumler, Charlene Porsild, and Brian Shovers. Montana Place Names from Alzada to Zortman Archived 2009-10-08 at the Wayback Machine. Montana Historical Society Press.
  4. ^ a b Schneider, Bill. Best Easy Day Hikes: Absaroka–Beartooth Wilderness. 2nd ed. Guilford: Falcon Publishing, 2003. 21-23
  5. ^ "Phantom Creek Trail to Slough Lake." REI, 2008. Web. 12 Nov. 2012. <http://www.rei.com/guidepost/detail/montana/hiking/phantom-creek-trail-to-slough-lake/40628>.
  6. ^ Beartooth Publishing. Absaroka Beartooth Wilderness, Montana, Wyoming, Outdoor Recreation Map: Hike, Mountain Bike, Horseback, Dirt Bike, ATV, Fish, Hunt. 2015.
  7. ^ Vines, Tom. "No Easy Fix for The Beartooth Panic". March 20, 1997. Wall Street Journal.

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]

  • "Absaroka–Beartooth Wilderness". The National Wilderness Preservation System. Wilderness.net. Archived from the original on 11 October 2007. Retrieved 2007-09-16.
  • "USGS Cooke City (MT, WY) Topo Map Quad". TopoQuest. Retrieved 2008-06-29.
  • "Wilderness Legislation: The Wilderness Act of 1964". The National Wilderness Preservation System. Wilderness.net. Archived from the original on 11 September 2006. Retrieved 2006-08-16.