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Topic: Beartooth Trail Access, Where can I get with this vehicle< Next Oldest | Next Newest >
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PostIcon Posted on: Jul. 07 2013, 12:09 pm  Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Longtime lurker, first time poster. Going on a 5-week trip to the Sawtooths, Glacier (no permit), Beartooths and then the Winds; we have not been to any of them. Intend to backpack in all of these places (4-5 nights) though probably too ambitious given that we plan to leave around Aug 1 and have to be home (Ventura, Cal) NLT Sept 7; meaning that either the Beartooths or the Winds might not happen :( .

We have a 21' camper-van (Sportsmobile, 6" clearance) and when I look at the trailheads in the Beartooths (Falcon Guide: Hiking the Absaroka-Beartooth Wilderness, have same book for Wind River) I'm wondering which I can reasonably get to without beating the crap out of the van. Right now I've "settled" on Clarks Fork TH and do a CCW loop (Widewater, Copeland, Jorden, Russell) due to its easy access.

A little about us and our abilities. Been BP'ing for 5-years, mostly the eastern Sierra Nevada though two years ago we did the Teton Crest closely followed by Bechler RS to Old Faithful. We don't care to "death march", 8 miles and 2000' of elev is about the most we care to do on any one day and not too many of those on a single hike. I've recently retired so we can be flexible relative to time and distance.

Note that we not hardover on the Beartooths vs Winds; I'm quite sure that both are fantastic.

Is the route described above worthwhile? Any other recommendations folks may have would be greatly appreciated.

Regards!
Andy
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PostIcon Posted on: Jul. 08 2013, 1:48 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Almost all trails in the Beartooths have easy access even for two wheel drive vehicles as long as the weather is decent.  Even then, most of them can be easily driven to.  Access with a two wheel drive really isn't much of an issue.  The road to the TH at Clark's Fork is paved all the way except for the last 100 yards or so - it's right off the highway.  You won't have any problem at all.

Concerning your route, the only comment I would make is that it is mostly, with the exceptionof Jorden Lake, below treeline so you will miss the essence of Beartooth hiking which is really above treeline on the plateaus.  Also, you won't have the views, but you will have the mosquitos.  If you'd like some suggestions, just shoot me a pm.


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PostIcon Posted on: Jul. 08 2013, 11:11 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Thanks hikerjer for the reply; and yes, I would definitely like some suggestions. Hiking below the treeline is not something we typically enjoy, everything looks the same, that combined with the mosquitos is enough to throw that plan away.

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PostIcon Posted on: Jul. 09 2013, 11:57 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Andy,

Since you don't enjoy below treeline, I would suggest starting at Island Lake. No problem with the vehicle as it's right off the road. The travel starts just below treeline, but opens up quickly. Make a loop up the high Lakes trail and head over toward Cloverleaf lakes, then past Jasper and Albino Lakes. Some of the travel is cross country, but very easy. There a great views and most of the hiking is above treeline.

One other recommendation is to head up to Lady of the Lake trailhead. Again you shouldn't have a problem getting the vehicle up there. Again the hiking is great. Head up to either Lone Elk/Rough Lakes area or Aero Lakes. You won't be disappointed.

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PostIcon Posted on: Jul. 09 2013, 12:07 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Island Lake is my favorite kick-off point in the Beartooths, as well.  Make sure you have a topo map, and after the first 3 or 4 lakes just make your own trail to wherever you want to go.

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PostIcon Posted on: Jul. 09 2013, 12:09 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

+1 on Island Lake TH if you want a classic above-treeline off-trail Beartooths trip.

In addition to Offtrail's suggestions, consider traveling a little further from the trails over to the Crystal Lake, Alp Lake, Flatrock Lake/Sierra Creek area.

There is a just a ton of great country within a couple days of the Island Lake TH.
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PostIcon Posted on: Jul. 09 2013, 4:30 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE


(cweston @ Jul. 09 2013, 12:09 pm)
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There is a just a ton of great country within a couple days of the Island Lake TH.

Heck, just a relatively short day's hike from Island Lake will get you into some great above treeline backcountry hiking.

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PostIcon Posted on: Jul. 09 2013, 9:22 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

It's so great I'm going out on Friday for a week, coming back home for 2 weeks to close on a house then back out again for another 2 weeks
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PostIcon Posted on: Jul. 09 2013, 9:30 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Maybe a dumb question, but I'm a dumb flatlander :) Are grizzlies a concern in the above treeline high country of the beartooths? Or are they going to be more restricted to lower elevations?
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PostIcon Posted on: Jul. 10 2013, 10:06 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE


(Tallgrass @ Jul. 09 2013, 9:30 pm)
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Maybe a dumb question, but I'm a dumb flatlander :) Are grizzlies a concern in the above treeline high country of the beartooths? Or are they going to be more restricted to lower elevations?

I've hiked above treeline in the Beartooths for 40+ years.  In all that time, I've never seen a grizzly or any sign of one at that elevation. I've never used bear canisters - just hang my food - and never had a problem.  In fact, I've never seen a grizzly in the Beartooths at all.  That's not to say they are not there, above or below timberline because there have been reports in the past relating to lower elevtions.  Never heard of one above treeline.  Black bears, now that's another issue.  But again, I've never come across one above treeline.  Again, doesn't mean they aren't there, but it's not been my personal experience.

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PostIcon Posted on: Jul. 10 2013, 11:26 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

There was a griz incident, a fatal one memory has it, in a FS cg just east of Cooke City. Not sure if you'd call that Beartooths but nearby. More of a corridor out of Yellowstone/Lamar Valley.

Gotta agree with Jer's "never in 40 years" comment tho about above the treelike. I've spent maybe 2 months in the Beartooths cumulatively, am very experienced with grizzly sign, diggings et al and no nothing there.

Jer, wasn't there one in the cg at Beartooth L. 5 years back or so?

And, no, that's not a "dumb flatlander question".
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PostIcon Posted on: Jul. 10 2013, 11:33 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Grizzlies are on the rise in what I used to joke with Jer as the "Bearless Teeth."

http://www.vitalground.org/grizzly....untains

I do not know much of the Beartooth but what I do know of Grizzlies for your situation barring unforseen local conditions there is that in earlier August many bears will try to find productive Whitebark Pine Stands. Later in the month and generally through September they will go more above treeline to pursue Army Cutworm Moths. The only time I've consistently seen Grizzlies above treeline in the Absaroka is the 2nd half of September.

Personally I would take a canister or at least consult Jer as to good places with hangable rocks/boulders. DON'T WORRY ABOUT GRIZZLIES. Exercise sane precautions and remember the most dangerous parts of your trip will almost certainly be in that Van rolling down the highway.

Just an FYI for the Winds: The "Glacier" Trailhead outside of Dubois has an almost always great road into it with a couple of nice raging creekside dispersed vehicle camping sites a 2 minute walk from the trailhead. Please don't leave your vehicle in any site if you go into the backcountry for more than a night. If you're going in from the Rez you need to check with the tribes on road access conditions. On the West side Elkhart Park is paved all the way. I haven't been to Big Sandy in years but remember that road getting just a little rougher the last half dozen miles or so. I bet someone around here has been on it recently and can give better intel.

The one last thing I'll do is share an opinion in a couple of paragrpahs that I hope you will truly consider. Most people try to see as much of the West as possible on their roadtrips, often sacrificing magical trail time nearby to roar off to another place hundreds of miles away. Glacier and the Crown of the Continent are exquisite, as is Greater Yellowstone. I would however choose one or the other and I'll defer to Jer or someone else on Glacier if that were to be your choice should you see value in the greater focus I suggest.

You've done two great trails in this area, truly hope you saw the Crest South of the Tram and Boundary Creek on the Bechler trip. If not , well, that would be normal. Greater Yellowstone is almost 20 million acres of mostly wilderness or under developed roaded areas. The Winds are truly magnificent and you could hike every day you have in there and be ECSTATIC for having done so. You could also do the Winds and check out other gems in the area as well. The Tetons North of Mt. Moran is one of the most underrated backpacking destinations on the planet. Wildlife, some great scrambleable peaks, wonderful lakes, etc. I hiked much of the Winds years ago, but it is the northern range of the Tetons I would go back to first. The Southwest Absaroka is my favorite place on earth, and the Continetal Divide where the CDT drops down into the Teton Wilderness is a gem I've shared pics of here many times. You could get on the crest and hike all the way to the Headwaters of the Yellowstone and Thorofare Creek in a couple of days for strong hikers. With all due respect to all of my friends here I can't imagine a wilder, more scenic place that also has solitude you're not going to remotely find in any of your planned destinations. In addition to the backpacking the Southwest Absaroka in my experience also offers the best car camping and dayhiking combination you will ever find if you want to take it just a little easier for a few days.

My opinions aside let me just say that wherever you go and however extended you let yourselves get, have a wonderful time.


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PostIcon Posted on: Jul. 10 2013, 12:10 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

In response to both Eric's and DC's comments.  I am familiar with the two incidents that Eric mentioned.  However, both of them occurred at or near public campgrounds at a relatively low elevations - sigificantly below treeline.  I'm not sure exactly how much the human and campground factors played into the incidents since apparently the campers were doing eveything right - proper food stroage, clean camp, etc.   Apparently it was just a freak incident.  Again, there are certainly grizz in the Beartooths but they are hardly lurking behind every tree and I'm certainly not saying they can't be found above treeline. It's just that I've never encountered them there or any sign of them or heard reports of them being in the alpine tundra.  I suspect that's because it's a pretty barren environment with not much to sustain them.  Digging for marmots and pikas probably isn't nearly worth the enerygy expended.  Gotta be tough for a grizz to make a living up there.  Like DC said, don't worry about grizzlies.  Just take the proper "bear aware" precautions and you'll be fine.

Have a great hike.


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PostIcon Posted on: Jul. 10 2013, 12:32 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

I don't know, Jer--I see some pretty fat marmots around my above-treeline camps. They're relatively slow (compared to pikas, anyway) and seem like they could make for some pretty good eatin' for a hungry griz.

One tried to chew the strap off my ice axe in Colorado the other day. I was 10 feet away. I yelled and said some very insulting things to it as I was getting up to shoo it away, and it was still in no hurry to move along. Those suckers are brazen. They might just try to take the griz on.
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PostIcon Posted on: Jul. 10 2013, 1:56 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE


(cweston @ Jul. 10 2013, 12:32 pm)
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Those suckers are brazen.

Gotcha on that.  I fear marmots above treeline more than grizzlies.  Only thing worse is a crazed pika.  They strike absolute terror into me. :laugh:

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PostIcon Posted on: Jul. 10 2013, 11:27 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE


(Eric H @ Jul. 10 2013, 10:26 am)
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There was a griz incident, a fatal one memory has it, in a FS cg just east of Cooke City. Not sure if you'd call that Beartooths but nearby. More of a corridor out of Yellowstone/Lamar Valley.

Gotta agree with Jer's "never in 40 years" comment tho about above the treelike. I've spent maybe 2 months in the Beartooths cumulatively, am very experienced with grizzly sign, diggings et al and no nothing there.

Jer, wasn't there one in the cg at Beartooth L. 5 years back or so?

And, no, that's not a "dumb flatlander question".

Thanks for the responses everyone. I was just curious and couldn't find any solid info on it. We hiked out of island lake last summer and they had signs at the cg with grizzly info. Freaked the wife out, I didn't think the high country would be all that appealing to grizzlies.

We took typical bear precautions (hung food, had spray, etc). Didn't even see one of those crazed pikas.
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PostIcon Posted on: Jul. 10 2013, 11:48 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE


(Eric H @ Jul. 10 2013, 11:26 am)
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There was a griz incident, a fatal one memory has it, in a FS cg just east of Cooke City. Not sure if you'd call that Beartooths but nearby. More of a corridor out of Yellowstone/Lamar Valley.

Yeah, you hit that on the head.  Although that may be technically the Beartooths, its different country.  Lots of Yellowstone Grizz around cooke city and in the absorkas se of there, but for what ever reason they don't seem to be in the high county there.

Those bears in the attack at soda butte campground were habituated or whatever the term is for food bears that had been getting human food.


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PostIcon Posted on: Jul. 11 2013, 1:03 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE


(double cabin @ Jul. 10 2013, 11:33 am)
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Grizzlies are on the rise in what I used to joke with Jer as the "Bearless Teeth."

http://www.vitalground.org/grizzly....untains

I do not know much of the Beartooth but what I do know of Grizzlies for your situation barring unforseen local conditions there is that in earlier August many bears will try to find productive Whitebark Pine Stands. Later in the month and generally through September they will go more above treeline to pursue Army Cutworm Moths. The only time I've consistently seen Grizzlies above treeline in the Absaroka is the 2nd half of September.

Personally I would take a canister or at least consult Jer as to good places with hangable rocks/boulders. DON'T WORRY ABOUT GRIZZLIES. Exercise sane precautions and remember the most dangerous parts of your trip will almost certainly be in that Van rolling down the highway.

Just an FYI for the Winds: The "Glacier" Trailhead outside of Dubois has an almost always great road into it with a couple of nice raging creekside dispersed vehicle camping sites a 2 minute walk from the trailhead. Please don't leave your vehicle in any site if you go into the backcountry for more than a night. If you're going in from the Rez you need to check with the tribes on road access conditions. On the West side Elkhart Park is paved all the way. I haven't been to Big Sandy in years but remember that road getting just a little rougher the last half dozen miles or so. I bet someone around here has been on it recently and can give better intel.

The one last thing I'll do is share an opinion in a couple of paragrpahs that I hope you will truly consider. Most people try to see as much of the West as possible on their roadtrips, often sacrificing magical trail time nearby to roar off to another place hundreds of miles away. Glacier and the Crown of the Continent are exquisite, as is Greater Yellowstone. I would however choose one or the other and I'll defer to Jer or someone else on Glacier if that were to be your choice should you see value in the greater focus I suggest.

You've done two great trails in this area, truly hope you saw the Crest South of the Tram and Boundary Creek on the Bechler trip. If not , well, that would be normal. Greater Yellowstone is almost 20 million acres of mostly wilderness or under developed roaded areas. The Winds are truly magnificent and you could hike every day you have in there and be ECSTATIC for having done so. You could also do the Winds and check out other gems in the area as well. The Tetons North of Mt. Moran is one of the most underrated backpacking destinations on the planet. Wildlife, some great scrambleable peaks, wonderful lakes, etc. I hiked much of the Winds years ago, but it is the northern range of the Tetons I would go back to first. The Southwest Absaroka is my favorite place on earth, and the Continetal Divide where the CDT drops down into the Teton Wilderness is a gem I've shared pics of here many times. You could get on the crest and hike all the way to the Headwaters of the Yellowstone and Thorofare Creek in a couple of days for strong hikers. With all due respect to all of my friends here I can't imagine a wilder, more scenic place that also has solitude you're not going to remotely find in any of your planned destinations. In addition to the backpacking the Southwest Absaroka in my experience also offers the best car camping and dayhiking combination you will ever find if you want to take it just a little easier for a few days.

My opinions aside let me just say that wherever you go and however extended you let yourselves get, have a wonderful time.

Great post, agree with all of it.

I understand if you only have this one time to visit all these places, but if you are going to get another chance soon, spend most of your time in one area, you will have more time on the trail, and get to see quite a bit more, compared to driving to each location.


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PostIcon Posted on: Jul. 11 2013, 1:08 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE


(hikerjer @ Jul. 10 2013, 1:56 pm)
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(cweston @ Jul. 10 2013, 12:32 pm)
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Those suckers are brazen.

Gotcha on that.  I fear marmots above treeline more than grizzlies.  Only thing worse is a crazed pika.  They strike absolute terror into me. :laugh:

Just got to learn how to bait em up boys


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(Tallgrass @ Jul. 10 2013, 11:27 pm)
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Didn't even see one of those crazed pikas.

Consider yourself fortunate, indeed.

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PostIcon Posted on: Jul. 11 2013, 8:34 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

I'm going to the Winds again this year, but it sounds like I need to consider the Beartooths in my future plans.  Any WY / MT mountains with a very low chance of running into grizzlies is for me.  Will have to start researching routes and fishing.  The flights from FL to Billings are downright cheap too.

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PostIcon Posted on: Jul. 11 2013, 9:08 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Hey Tarpon-What route are you doing in the Winds this year?
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PostIcon Posted on: Jul. 11 2013, 10:08 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Grave lake loop with an off trail hike down the East Fork Valley.

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PostIcon Posted on: Jul. 11 2013, 10:28 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE


(tarpon6 @ Jul. 11 2013, 8:34 am)
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I'm going to the Winds again this year, but it sounds like I need to consider the Beartooths in my future plans.  Any WY / MT mountains with a very low chance of running into grizzlies is for me.  Will have to start researching routes and fishing.  The flights from FL to Billings are downright cheap too.

You'll like the Beartooths.  They are similar to the Winds in many respects, and IMO, better in some ways (but I really don't want to start that debate again - just personal perference and bias), and the access is considerably easier, especially from Billings.  One of the real advantages of getting to them is the drive over US 212 - the Beartooth Highway - which has got to be one of the most spectacular drives in the country.


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PostIcon Posted on: Jul. 11 2013, 10:59 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE


(hikerjer @ Jul. 11 2013, 9:28 am)
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You'll like the Beartooths.  They are similar to the Winds in many respects, and IMO, better in some ways (but I really don't want to start that debate again - just personal perference and bias), and the access is considerably easier, especially from Billings.  One of the real advantages of getting to them is the drive over US 212 - the Beartooth Highway - which has got to be one of the most spectacular drives in the country.

+1

What's really unique about the Beartooths is the off-trail travel possibilities. On the plateaus, you have miles and miles of relatively easy off-trail travel, almost entirely above treelike, filled with lakes and streams.

If you love water (well, who doesn't, but I mean if that is your main thing), then you'll love the Beartooths. The tradeoff, IMHO, is that, on the plateaus, the peaks are not quite as high and rugged as in some other ranges.
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PostIcon Posted on: Jul. 11 2013, 1:28 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Last I saw Aero Lake (lower) had a bunch of nice brookies, cuts (memory has almost all at around 15"). It was pretty much one every half hour on panther martins, mepps, as long as your casting arm held out. Great place to base camp. Fish one day, peak bag the next (Glacier Peak, others are a "mere" 2,000'+ above the lake).
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PostIcon Posted on: Jul. 11 2013, 8:02 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE


(tarpon6 @ Jul. 11 2013, 8:34 am)
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I'm going to the Winds again this year, but it sounds like I need to consider the Beartooths in my future plans.  Any WY / MT mountains with a very low chance of running into grizzlies is for me.  Will have to start researching routes and fishing.  The flights from FL to Billings are downright cheap too.

That's funny, this is exactly why I don't spend much time there.  Something about venturing into grizzly country that makes the experience so much more fulfilling.  Outside of Utah, I just don't go anywhere but Grizz country.  But I totally understand the other point of view.

Where in Florida are you flying from to Billings?  I have people fly out every summer from Florida to take backpacking, and always have trouble with pricing.  Ive never thought of having anyone fly into Billings before, always Kalispel, Great Falls, Jackson, or SLC.


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The vast majority of every species that has ever lived on Earth is now extinct. To think that humans can avoid the fate of every other creature is arrogant. Like all life on Earth, our time is limited.
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PostIcon Posted on: Jul. 11 2013, 8:45 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE


(RobinHood @ Jul. 11 2013, 8:02 pm)
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Where in Florida are you flying from to Billings?  I have people fly out every summer from Florida to take backpacking, and always have trouble with pricing.  Ive never thought of having anyone fly into Billings before, always Kalispel, Great Falls, Jackson, or SLC.

Some folks find it cheaper and easier to actually fly into to Bozeman although access to the Beartooths is not quite as convienent, but it's not bad.

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"Too often I have met men who boast only of how many miles they've traveled and not of what they've seen."  -  Louis L'Amour
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PostIcon Posted on: Jul. 11 2013, 10:16 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

I fly out of RSW or TPA.  Jackson, where I'm flying to this year is expensive, got a flight for $575.  For the Winds Jackson is the best airport.

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“In the wilderness man learns to have faith in his Creator.”
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PostIcon Posted on: Jul. 11 2013, 11:49 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic.  Ignore posts   QUOTE


(tarpon6 @ Jul. 11 2013, 6:34 am)
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I'm going to the Winds again this year, but it sounds like I need to consider the Beartooths in my future plans.  Any WY / MT mountains with a very low chance of running into grizzlies is for me.  Will have to start researching routes and fishing.  The flights from FL to Billings are downright cheap too.

MT has the best fish management program in the US. They manage for "trophy" lakes as well as #'s lakes better than any State in the Rockies.

Fishing/scenery, your choice.

I'm glad for my 26 day visit to the BT's a few years ago. Fishing 2nd to none, excellent XC hiking over a tiny 20 mi "flat" plateau. But it pales X 10 to the scenic grandeur of the Winds and their 120 + mi trip options.

Definitely take a the trip to the BT's , it's a bucket list trip, but it's no-where near the scale of the Wind's.


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