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.
For 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(mile 42.2 from Red Lodge/mile 21.8 from Cooke City) is one of several hundred lookouts throughout the country that has been replaced by more effective fire detection methods.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
The Official Smokey Bear Site
Remember only YOU can prevent wildfires!
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.