COOKE CITY, Mont.—The Beartooth Highway, often considered one of the most spectacular drives in the country, was listed in the National Register of Historic Places on May 8, 2014.
Sixty miles of the 68-mile winding and twisting US-212 highway linking Red Lodge, Montana, with the communities of Cooke City and Silver Gate, Montana, and the northeast entrance to Yellowstone National Park was officially named to the Red Lodge – Cooke City Approach Road Historic District.
Since opening to automobile travel in 1937 the Beartooth Highway has welcomed visitors from around the world – introducing them to one of the most diverse ecosystems accessible by auto in the United States
The scenic highway is nationally significant as an example of road construction which substantially increased recreational development and tourism in Yellowstone and the region.
The road is also nationally significant for its distinctive engineering and the methods of high-altitude road construction used in its construction. It is the highest elevation highway in Wyoming (10,947 feet) and Montana (10,350 feet).
In 1932, President Herbert Hoover withdrew the Beartooth Highway corridor from settlement and sale, and reserved it as an approach road to Yellowstone National Park.
Construction funds from the newly passed National Park Approaches Act, which became law in 1931, were used to build the road.
The Beartooth Highway National Register Nomination was completed by Yellowstone staff as a cooperative effort through a Memorandum of Agreement among the Federal Highway Administration, the Wyoming and Montana State Historic Preservation Offices, the United States Forest Service and the National Park Service.
The National Register is the nation’s official list of historic places worthy of preservation. The listing will allow the agencies who manage the road to account for its historic characteristics when planning upgrades and maintenance projects.