Red Lodge, MT (and America’s Stelvio)

Tonight I’m in Red Lodge, Montana after successfully transiting Yellowstone this morning. I was dreading the ritual at the entrance gate, but when I pulled up, it was the same ranger from yesterday that said I couldn’t go in, and today she didn’t even ask to see my pass / ID, she just said “Go on”. I had to ask her to make sure she meant “go on in”, and she did. She said she’d talked to the ranger I’d met with yesterday and everything was Ok. She even gave me a note to show any other rangers that wanted to give me a hard time. I just don’t get it…


Anyway, I had a full day of driving planned out, and didn’t stop for any of the sights inside Yellowstone – this was a part of the park I’d mostly covered back in 2007. The only issue I had was that I planned on topping off my gas tank at Roosevelt Lodge, but the gate was down with a “closed for the season” sign. I guess they’re starting to shut down the park for the winter.

I had plenty of gas (and a 2-gallon emergency can), so I wasn’t too worried. I headed out of the park’s Northeast Gate and filled up at the ambitiously-named Cooke City, which is a lot smaller than it sounds (population 142, if you also count neighboring Silver Gate).

I have gotten some derisive comments in the past for calling the roads in this area “America’s Stelvio“. Here’s a picture from the road I was on today – I think this will dispel any doubts. Click on the picture for a larger version:

America's Stelvio

This is a view a little to the right of the previous picture. It’ll be a little difficult to make out at this size, but you may be able to see one of the lower loops of the road behind the road in the foreground, just to the right of the mound of rocks at the left edge of the photo:

Lower Loop

Panning to the right some more, here are some of the loops leading up to where I parked to take these pictures:

Upper Loop

This was all on the west side of the peak. This part is in Wyoming and is posted at 55MPH. Once I crossed over into Montana on the east side, the speed limit changes to 70MPH! Trust me, nobody drives that fast on these roads.

The high point of the road is at 10,800 feet. Once over the top, I headed down the east side, which also has some great switchbacks. There weren’t as many places to park on this side, so I don’t have a lot of photos from this side. Here’s one – you can see the road I’m on at the left edge of the picture. The road descends through a series of switchbacks to the valley you can see in the center of the picture:

East Side

Here’s a picture of the Atom parked where I took the previous picture. This isn’t a bad parking job – the angled spaces switch from pointing right to pointing left in between the Atom and the car to the right.


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