Wild Fires Along The Beartooth Highway

Wild Fires Along The Beartooth Highway

There are few sights as wild, and awe-inspiring as a raging widland fire – traveling at high speed from tree crown to tree crown – burning its way through a high mountain forest.

For eons, fires have burned regularly in the forested areas surrounding the Beartooth All-American Road. These fires have helped to promote vegetative and wildlife diversity, maintain wilderness and wildland areas, and eliminate heavy fuel accumulations on forest Wildfires are more common during years of drought and can spread quickly on days of strong winds.

Wildlifes - Beartooth Highway 1988For many years wildland fires that were started by lightening were undetected and left to burn. In an effort to reduce the amount of damage caused by these fires, a system of lookout towers were established on isolated peaks across the country. The Clay Butte Fire Tower (mile 42.2 from Red Lodge/mile 21.8 from Cooke City) is one of several hundred lookouts throughout the country that has been replaced by more effective fire detection methods. A visit to Clay Butte today requires a mile-or-so drive up a winding gravel road to its location. The fire tower itself has recently been renovated by the Shoshone Forest Service and the view from the top and a close-up inspection the structure make the trip worth the extra time and effort.

Interesting Wildfire Links

Beartooth Highway - Road MapsThe Official Smokey Bear Site
Remember only YOU can prevent wildfires!

 

 

Beartooth Highway - On-line Maps

Living With Fire! On-line Game

Living with Fire is an educational game that puts you in the place of a fire manager, based on research and tools developed for real-world fire management. Recommended for ages 10 and up.

United States Forest Service

Wildfire pages for the Custer, Gallatin & Shoshone National Forests include current wildfire conditions along the Beartooth All-American Road corridor.

Did You Know?

Clay Butte Lookout - Beartooth Highway

The Clay Butte Lookout was built in 1942 by the Civilian Conservation Corps and was used as a fire lookout. It was staffed until the 1960s, when aircraft proved a better tool for fire detection. Today, because of its popular scenic vantage point and proximity to the Beartooth Highway, Clay Butte is used as a visitor information site. It was remodeled in 1962 and has been staffed since 1975 by volunteers. The focus of Clay Butte today is to give visitors a glimpse of how fire lookouts functioned 60 years ago. Sightseers driving the scenic byway stop to obtain information or take in the view, which includes wildlife, botanical areas, the effects of the Clover-Mist wildfire of 1988, and the geology of ancient seas that once covered the Beartooth Plateau.

Fishing Beartooth Highway

The cutthroat is the only true western native trout. Originally wide spread throughout the state, it is now relegated to the higher, cooler, more inaccessible back country lakes and streams. Cutthroats are easily identified by the bright red “cut” on the lower jaw.