This is Montana’s high country: Granite Peak, towering 12,799 feet in the Beartooth Range, is the state’s highest point and a formidable climb. Geologically and ecologically different from one another, the Absaroka and the Beartooth Ranges share a plateau and a wilderness area. The accommodating Beartooth Plateau tilts from a low northwestern Absaroka corner to the soaring Beartooths in the southeast.
The Beartooths were uplifted, eroded, partially blanketed with lava from Yellowstone’s volcanoes, and covered with glaciers. The limestone cliffs of the Beartooth Range rise from high tundra cut through by steep canyons.
The weather in the Beartooths can change quickly and with arctic severity. Come prepared for a snowstorm, even in midsummer.
The Beartooths are largely above the timberline, and alpine meadows are the characteristic vegetation. The growing season here is about 45 days, and the plants and the soil are sensitive to trampling. During the late summer, snowbanks sometimes turn pink as microorganisms on the snow’s surface die and turn red.