Camping on the Beartooth Scenic Byway: FR 2412 Camp

The road back to my camp.

The road back to my camp on FR 2412.

Since I’m working on a guide book to Wyoming I’m driving the most beautiful roads but I’m also reporting on free dispersed camping in those areas. Today’s post is about my camp at the bottom of the Beartooth Scenic Byway. The day I drove it started out looking pretty good with blue skies, but the thing with big mountains is they create their own weather. Usually every afternoon clouds roll in and you’re in for some rain. That day was no different and most of the drive was in bright overcast skies and the end of the drive was in rain–both are bad for photography. One of the things I do is try to follow the weather forecast and the forecast for the next day was clear all day. That was so unusual I had planned to drive the road one way north towards Red Lodge, spend the night somewhere, and then drive back up the Beartooth to Gardiner the next day.

The camp.

The camp.

On the mountainside coming down the mountain I stopped at one of the pullouts and noticed a Forest Road going further back into the valley. I checked with my binoculars and I could see people camping in the clearings and they were so scattered they couldn’t have been in a campground. I decided I would check it out when I got down off the mountain.

Looking down at the camp from the Beartooth Highway

Looking down at the camp from the Beartooth Highway

At the bottom of the road I turned left away from Red Lodge and found Forest Road 2412, Rock Creek Rd. and started following it back the valley. You’ll come to a “T” and you want to go left. If you go right you are going up Hellroaring Road which looks great but it climbs quickly until you are up in the mountains and I think it will be too difficult for most of us. I followed 2412 as it wound around Rock Creek and the road is mostly good but in a few places it’s bumpy and wash-boarded but any car of van could make it. In fact I camped in a spot where there was a 5th Wheel just pulling out, so any rig can make it.

bear-camp-mntn

The mountains to the west.

This was one of my all-time favorite camps! It’s surrounded on both sides by tall mountains and I was camped about 50 feet from Rock Creek which is a beautiful creek! Looking south down the valley you can see the mountains at the headwaters of Rock Creek. Looking up the mountain on the east you can see the Beartooth winding its way back and forth across the face of the mountain and it’s kind of fun to watch the traffic working its way up it.

Rock Creek is a beautiful little creek!  I chose a site further from the road, but there were many backed right up to the creek.

Rock Creek is a beautiful little creek! I chose a camp site further away from the road, but there were many backed right up to the creek.

There were a LOT of people camping along the road, but the further I went the less people there were. I found a nice camp with no one else around and spent a great night there. The next day had a gorgeous blue sky so I broke camp and headed back up the Beartooth.

This is a satellite shot of the camp. Notice the Beartooth Highway (US 212) inding back and forth up the road directly opposite of our camp.

This is a satellite shot of the camp. Notice the Beartooth Highway (US 212) winding back and forth up the road directly opposite of our camp.

That's the Beartooth climbing up the mountain to the east of camp. you can see 5 different switchbacks. But, you can also see that the road is never very steep making it easy  for most rigs to climb it.

That’s the Beartooth climbing up the mountain to the east of camp. you can see 5 different switchbacks. But, you can also see that the road is never very steep making it easy for most rigs to climb it.

This camp is too far from Yellowstone NP for it to be a basecamp. For that I suggest you camp close to Cooke City which is at the end of the Beartooth  Highway. It’s in a beautiful area with beautiful mountains and creeks all around you. Best of all it’s only a few miles from the Northeast entrance into Yellowstone NP so it would make a great Basecamp into the Park. I didn’t go searching for a camp but I had the MVUM to it and it listed many dispersed campsites. I downloaded it as a PDF and took this snip from it.

This is the MVUM to Cooke City, MT. All the roads with dots on the sides of the road are open for legal dispersed camping.

This is the MVUM to Cooke City, MT. All the roads with dots on the sides of the road are open for legal dispersed camping.

There are many campgrounds in the area, but I rarely stay at campgrounds. However, there were also numerous signs saying no tent camping or pop-up campers allowed, only hard-sided vehicle. I assume there are so many bears that tents aren’t safe. If you are camping in a tent I would call the Gallatin NF and ask if you could safely camp in a tent there before you go.

Driving the Beartooth is a wonderful experience and having this as a campsite just makes it all the better!

This is the MVUM from the Custer-Gallatin NF website to my camp.

This is the MVUM from the Custer-Gallatin NF website to my camp. Wherever there are dots on the side of the road is open to free, legal dispersed  camping.

Bob
About

I’ve been a full-time VanDweller for 12 years and I love it. I hope to never live in a house again!

24 comments on “Camping on the Beartooth Scenic Byway: FR 2412 Camp
  1. Greg says:

    Bob, FR 2412 is the road I camped on for about a week in 2014. I rode my motorcycle to the top of the mountain there. What a beautiful area! I also hiked some there and I believe I had pushed a bear off the trail. As I turned a switchback there was very fresh scat right on the trail. I’m sure glad he heard me and left before I got there!
    Greg

  2. Sherry in MT says:

    Loving these posts since you are totally in my neck of the woods! I’ve been up that road and went to the right – big mistake – the road got so bad that even in my high clearance 4wd I turned around. Definitely will be heading up the road to the area you were in to check it out in a few weeks when we are down there! 🙂 Safe Travels!
    Sherry in MT recently posted…MTWaggin To Be Happy CD, RAEMy Profile

    • Bob Bob says:

      Thanks Sherry! I looked that road over from up on the Beartooth and it did not look very inviting to me! You were brave to have tried it at all!
      Bob

  3. Art says:

    Hi Bob;

    Enjoy reading your blog and all the helpful information you share. Looking forward to getting your book when you get it done.

    Just wondering what program you use to put words, highlights and arrows on the pictures you post.

    Enjoy your travels

    Art

    • Bob Bob says:

      Thanks Art! On the maps those I use the Windows snipping tool and it has a highlighting tool I use a lot and it also has a red pen tool I use. After I’m done with that I save it as a .jpg and open it with Picassa which is a free photo editing program from Google. It has a very simple text tool that I use for all the text. Most of the arrows are just the less than/more than arrows <>.

      I highly recommend Picassa!
      Bob

  4. Any chance of a cell signal there? I mean THAT’s what’s important. 😉
    Al Christensen recently posted…Dusk in AstoriaMy Profile

    • Bob Bob says:

      Al, I think I didn’t even check. I got there late and didn’t have time. I have the bad habit of assuming I wouldn’t so I don’t even bother. That’s a mistake I’m trying to break.
      Bob

  5. Walt says:

    Simply gorgeous! Perhaps one of these years I’ll get out that way, with or without my wife. She plans to work another eight years, and I’m not sure I can wait that long.
    Walt recently posted…#187 – Blood, Sweat, and FearsMy Profile

    • Bob Bob says:

      My last few years were torture waiting to finally go. I lost 5% a year in my retirement for every year I retired early so the longer I stayed the better off I was. But I just couldn’t wait! I retired at 52 and lost 35% I have never regretted it for one second!!

      I wish you good luck in hanging in their for 8 years! I couldn’t do it.
      Bob

  6. Omar Storm says:

    Bob,

    Thanks for the great pics and info. I was on the Beartooth yesterday and spent the night at Island Lake CG. Sure wish I knew about your campsite. I had no cellular reception on Beartooth once I left Red Lodge until I arrived in Cody, WY. Heading to Yellowstone today.

    Omar

    • Bob Bob says:

      Omar, I’m in the Grand Tetons now, if You are going to be around maybe we can get together. I’m waiting for it to cool off then I’m moving, I think to Cody but possibly south to Pinedale.
      Bob

  7. Bob,

    Below is a link to a recent NYT article talking about how walking in nature helps the brain. The research suggests the same thing you have been saying for years.

    http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2015/07/22/how-nature-changes-the-brain/

    • Bob Bob says:

      Jerry, thanks for that link! There is a huge body of scientific studies that leave no question that being in nature is very good for us and being separated from it is very bad for us. Finally, common sense prevails!
      Bob

  8. Omar Storm says:

    Hi Bob,

    It would be GREAT to meet up with you, but I plan on heading toward the Lamar Valley. If your in the Tetons mid-week I’d definitely meet you. From Tetons I’m heading to Rocky mountains NP most likely.

    Omar

    • Bob Bob says:

      Omar, my current (very lose) plans are to go to Cody, WY tomorrow, then the Black Hills for a week, then south toward Rocky Mountain NP. So we might can meet up later.
      Bob

  9. Magicwolf says:

    Beartooth is great. When I lived in Billings, myself and the kids would run up it occasionally (via Red Lodge) and go find a waterfall to sit at and also have a ‘random picnic’. I believe I know of the road you’re speaking of here. I really like that first picture in your post and it looks like you had a great campsite.

    I never got a chance to say this before – but I made it! I’m out doing it/living it, working in Glacier NP this summer. I was the guard on duty when the wildfire broke out. My location was extremely rural (we’ve all been relocated temporarily now) so there were no cell signals and wifi at that lodge was crawling slow. Instead of an office, I now wrangle bears and evacuate guests & staff from wildfires – far from boring. It CAN be done even if you’re not retired. I live in my Scamp full time now, pulled by a GMC Vandura conversion.

    If anyone is headed up this way, the East side of the Going-To-The-Sun road from St Mary to Logan Pass is closed yet, but a large part of the park is still open.
    Magicwolf recently posted…Glacier National Park Fire – Mr. Scamp Makes the Paper!My Profile

    • Bob Bob says:

      That’s great Magicwolf! A Scamp pulled by a van is the ideal full-timing rig! And what way to get started by being a Ranger at Yellowstone! I hope you can make it down to see us this winter in AZ.
      Bob

  10. Gary says:

    Hi Bob,

    Thanks for taking us on your trip. 🙂

    I haven’t read anything else you’ve posted yet…Do you take a portable generator on your trips?

    • Bob Bob says:

      Gary, no, I am 100% on solar. I have 380 watts on my van and that meets all my needs! I used to carry a Honda 2000 but i never used it so I sold it. Bob

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