The Chief Joseph Scenic Byway is located along the northeastern edge of Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming. It offers the driver spectacular views of the Absaroka Mountains and a unique view into history. The route of the Chief Joseph Scenic Byway follows that taken by Chief Joseph as he led his band of Nez Perce Indians out of Yellowstone National Park and into Montana during their flight to flee the U.S. Cavalry and escape into Canada during the Nez Perce War of 1877.
The journey begins at the intersection of state Highway 120 and State Highway 296 which is approximately 20 miles north of Cody. Travel is best done in the morning so the sun is behind you lighting up the majestic mounts ahead.
Chief Joseph scenic Byway, Wyoming
The Cody Road is the original way into Yellowstone National Park from Cody, Wyoming and the heart of Buffalo Bill country. After a hearty breakfast at the Irma Hotel, the drive from Cody to the East Entrance of Yellowstone National Park and our boundary with PCA’s Yellowstone Region is a scenic 52 miles. One follows the East Fork of the Shoshone River as it passes through a narrow canyon to Shoshone/Buffalo Bill Dam. Enjoy a short stop at the Visitor’s Center. The open spaces next to Buffalo Bill Reservoir turn to a twisting canyon road that passes famous landmarks as the Cathedral Rock and the remnants of the old spiral bridge. Stop at Pahaska Teepee for a beverage and tour at the original hunting lodge of Buffalo Bill. The final leg to the park is up Sylvan Pass. Be careful to watch for stray buffalo on the road. Enjoy a day in Yellowstone and return to Billings via Cooke City, Montana and either the Beartooth Highway or the Chief Joseph Scenic Byway.
In the late 1930s there was a plan by then Sheridan, Wyoming street commissioner, A.R. Swickard to form a new 49th state. The new state would be called of Absaroka. This new state encompassed the southeastern counties of Montana, northern counties of Wyoming and extended eastward to the Black Hills of South Dakota. While Mr. Swickard’s plan was more of a stunt, they printed a state license plate, elected a Miss Absaroka of 1939, and enjoyed an “official” state visit by the King of Norway. Today you can leave Billings, Montana and combine the tours of the Beartooth Highway, Chief Joseph Scenic Byway, Devils Tower National Monument and PCA Dakota Region’s Black Hills into a scenic drive one will not forget and “re-discover” the lost 49th State of Absaroka.
The Lost 49th State of Absaroka
Porsche Boxster in the Big Horn Mountains of Wyoming
Photo: Dan Cole – Absaroka Region
Wyoming’s Big Horn Mountains offer a scenic view of high alpine lakes, wide expansive overlooks and twisty, smooth roads that are perfect to drive in a Porsche. There are a minimum of three different routes to choose from. There is Sheridan to Lovell via Highway 14 and 14a; Sheridan to Greybull via Highway 14 and Shell Canyon; and lastly Highway 16 from Buffalo to Worland. Each is unique and beautiful.
With your starting point in Lovell, Sheridan, Buffalo or Greybull, Wyoming, the Big Horn Mountains will not disappoint. The Big Horns are home to the Prehistoric Native American Medicine Wheel (a nice Cayenne drive), Big Horn National Recreation Area, Thermopolis Hot Springs, and DINOSAURS!
The Region’s “Crown Jewel” is the Beartooth Highway. Charles Kuralt the late CBS news correspondent described the road as “the most beautiful drive in America,” during one of his “On the Road” journeys.
Celebrating its 75th year in 2011, the Beartooth Highway in Montana and Wyoming is one of the great drives in North America. Period. Certainly there are other great roads, but few can rival the Beartooth’s shear grandeur and beauty. The Going to the Sun Road further west in Glacier National Park is worthy of consideration as is the neighboring Chief Joseph Scenic Byway (Wyoming State Highway 296) which connects to the Beartooth at the junction of highways 212 and 296. But the Beartooth Highway stands alone. It is the highest elevation highway in the Northern Rockies.
A convertible Porsche and a sunny blue sky day are a perfect combination for making the trek to the top of the world. The fresh alpine air and the sound of a Porsche engine behind you is near nirvana. No worries that the speed is slow; it is a hidden blessing that allows one to enjoy the scenery at a slower pace. Just keep the Porsche’s revs up and all will be right in your world.
The Beartooth Highway is closed in Winter. The embedded Google Map reflects this.
Visit the website for the Beartooth Highway for more details click HERE.
Vista Point looking toward Rock Creek. Beartooth Highway, Montana
The first place you should stop when planning your visit to Montana and the Absaroka Region is to visit the State of Montana’s Office of Tourism.
If you live in Montana you most likely have noticed the green “Get Lost (In Montana)” state of Montana shaped stickers on the bumpers of vehicles across the state. The State of Montana Office of Tourism “Get Lost. (In Montana)” program is designed to promote the state’s back roads and off the beaten path destinations.
Their website has a wonderful list of interesting tours and destinations submitted by fellow Montanans to explore and enjoy. They also have a nice free App for your iPhone. You can get the App via iTunes.
So if, you’re looking for Montana destinations, or want to plan an upcoming trip in your Porsche their website is a great resource. It also tells you how to get one of those fun stickers!
Check them out HERE your “insider’s guide to Montana”.