On Day 4 we headed west from Rapid City, SD. We quickly crossed the border into Wyoming…
And then just a few more miles later, we crossed into Montana!
We continued driving west through Montana for several hours. Around lunchtime we opted to stop at the Little Bighorn Battlefield when we realized that we would drive right past the National Monument.
There is a National Cemetery also at the National Monument.
There is so much history on this hill. We were able to watch a 30 minute video detailing the Battle of Little Bighorn (and the events leading up to the battle and Custer’s Last Stand) and we also toured the museum on site. The markers on the hill (in the fenced off area) denote where each American solider fell during the battle. There are also monuments and markers for the horses lost during the battle.
The was also a tribute to the American Indians who fought in the battle with amazing artwork. We had good discussions with the kids about the actual battle itself and the events leading up to the fight so that they can understand more of the history.
After we left the National Monument, we turned south to head down Highway 212 which is also known as the Beartooth Highway south of Red Lodge, MT.
The Beartooth Highway is a 68 mile National Scene Byway and is absolutely gorgeous. The road was not heavily traveled and we stopped many times to enjoy the crisp, cool mountain air and to take a break from the super twisting roads. The Beartooth Highway goes through southwest Montana and northwest Wyoming and leads into Yellowstone National Park at its Northeast Entrance and the highest elevation on the road is almost 11,000 feet!
Taking the Beartooth Highway is definitely not the fastest way to Yellowstone (or to Gardiner, MT where we were staying next) but ABSOLUTELY worth the drive if you ever have the chance to travel this way. The highway is not open year round due to the high elevation and the road is not maintained in the winter.
On one of our stops, the kids (along with Brian) followed a trail to the top of one of the mountain peaks that also had snow on the very top.
I have to admit that I feel the Beartooth pass was more breathtaking than any of the mountain ranges I have seen previously…obviously, my pictures do not do justice to the gorgeous landscape.
The Beartooth Highway ends at the Northeast Entrance to Yellowstone National Park! We went through a large valley in northeast Yellowstone and quickly spotted large herds of bison, coyotes, elk, a fox, bighorn sheep and even a bald eagle!
By the time we reached our destination in Gardiner, MT, we had been traveling for 12 hours (although not continuously driving and including many, many breaks) from the time we left Rapid City, SD. We were very excited to settle into the house that would be our temporary home for the next 5 days!