Red Lodge, named for the color of the Crow Indians’ tipis, sits at the base of the Beartooth Mountains. In the late 1800s, miners came by the hundreds to dig coal for the Northern Pacific Railroad. By 1910 Carbon County led Montana in coal production. When the Great Depression quashed industry, illegal bootleg liquor, labeled as “syrup,” was distilled in Red Lodge and sent to San Francisco and Chicago. The most scenic road in the country, the Beartooth Highway, opened in 1936, crawling over Beartooth Pass from Red Lodge to Cooke City.
The highway generally opens for summer-to-fall travel in late May, and entices telemarkers and alpine skiers to schuss north-facing steeps along the road. Three separate trails systems in the Red Lodge area vary from the machine-groomed Red Lodge Nordic Area to the skier-set trails of Lake Fork and Silver Run. The Red Lodge Nordic Area’s 15 kilometers of groomed trails cover several loops. From the trailhead ski north on the Learning Loop to access most trails. There are views of the Beartooths, the Pryor Mountains, Grizzly Peak, and Mt. Maurice. Surface quality: Machine-groomed and skier-set.
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