Beartooth Highway Economic Impact Study
The Beartooth Highway is a 68-mile travel corridor that reaches nearly 11,000 feet in elevation with sweeping vistas of snow-covered ridges, high plateau views, lakes and trails. A 54-mile segment of the road is designated as the Beartooth All-American Road, one of only 31 All-American Roads highlighted as the most scenic byways in the United States. In 2012, Friends of the Beartooth All-American Road set out to answer the question ” Does the Beartooth Highway provide positive economic impact for the gateway communities it serves?” Because no visitor research had been conducted on the Beartooth Highway, therefore, the overall purpose of this report was to investigate traveler characteristics on the Beartooth highway including demographics, residency, activities, image, and travel patterns in the region with the gateway communities of Red Lodge and Cooke City, MT and Cody, WY.
Data was collected from May 31st through the end of September, 2012 at the three entry locations to the Beartooth Highway. A total of 4,267 nonresidents and 485 residents of the local counties were intercepted. Of the nonresidents given a follow-up survey, 1,473 mail-backs were returned (45% response rate).
Cooke City, Montana Project Overview
On Saturday, August 14, 2010, Cooke City, Montana held the Grand Opening for the new Visitor Information Center and Mining Museum. The Center now serves as a fantastic orientation site for visitors arriving on the Beartooth All-American Road. FBAAR assisted with the construction project by providing funds for a portion of the landscaping, a thermoplastic covered ADA accessible picnic table, and for a weathered, metal sculpture of a prospector that stands just at the Visitor Center’s front door. Visitor center staffer Dee Smith reports, “The miner sculpture has been titled ” Panning the Dream”. He has become quite the tourist photo op! He is just the best rusty crusty fellow and perfect for Cooke!”
FBAAR also secured a National Scenic Byways grant that was used to contract for services with a professional interpretive design firm to:
- Provide a complete inventory of currently available history, memorabilia, and historical documents that will be used to create interpretive media.
- Identify final themes goals and objectives for the interpretive media that will be installed in the Center.
- Provide the interpretive and functional design of the interior spaces of the building, as well as the exterior spaces immediately adjacent to and associated with the Mining Museum.
- Provide estimated costs for fabrication of interpretive media.
In 2011 FBAAR will continue to work with the Cooke City Visitor & Information Center to develop an on-site interpretive panel that will tell the story of mining history in and around Cooke City.
With future funding FBAAR hopes to continue supporting community efforts to complete the Cooke City Mining Museum. Plans for the museum include an interpretive trail that will connect outdoor displays of large mining artifacts, an authentic old miner’s cabin and a very amusing “moon door” outhouse! Inside displays will include historical information of Silver Gate, Cooke City, The New World Mining District, John Colter and the early beaver trading years, and local family histories.
Red Lodge, Montana & Cody Wyoming Project Overviews
FBAAR currently has National Scenic Byways grant money set aside to develop interpretive panels for both Red Lodge, Montana and Cody, Wyoming. There panels will serve as orientation points for visitors traveling to the Beartooth All-American Road.
Preliminary plans have interpretive panels located at community visitor centers with a focus on younger visitors to the Road and introductions to outdoor recreation and activities.
Shoshone National Forest Project Overview
In January, 2009 the Shoshone National Forest completed the Chief Joseph Scenic Byway & Beartooth Al-American Road Interpretive Plan. The interpretive plan provides a framework for implementing a coordinated, unified interpretive approach This framework sets the direction for high quality visitor experiences and community involvement. With this plan in place work has started on fabrication and installation of interpretive panels along the Shoshone National Forest section of the Beartooth All-American Road.
Through on-going fund raising efforts FBAAR hopes to provide the Shoshone Forest with matching dollar support as the interpretive plan continues to become reality.
Supporting FBAAR Projects
FBAAR needs the continued support of all who value the uniqueness of the Beartooth All-American Road. It will take care, planning, and funding to continue FBAAR’s mission.
|“The Beartooth All-American Road will be managed in a manner that protects corridor resources; enhances visitor appreciation of the scenic, natural, recreational, cultural, historical and archaeological qualities of the corridor; and integrates the primary transportation role of the highway with other tourism attractions in the Northeast Yellowstone Scenic Corridors”|