Travel to Red Lodge takes homework. 

Red Lodge attracted and held my attention from the first failed attempt to visit.  Heading there on the Beartooth Highway from Cooke City, Beartooth pass had closed for the winter on that first attempt. It was October, which in Oklahoma is far, far away from winter. It’s also a long distance from Oklahoma, so the disappointment to have gotten oh-so-close was intense. A challenge to drive there? Historic hotel?  Missed first attempt? Yes, please.

As a result, the 2nd attempt was not off the cuff. Which translated to a plane ticket, a rental car, a hotel reservation, and yes damn it, homework. The Pass, having been the road block on the initial trip to the area, was my main destination; something to be conquered. But Red Lodge’s ironic-for-a-resort colloquial atmosphere was so personal that for the first time I walked into an art gallery as if an avid and resourced collector.  Then, had the ease and confidence to ask for layaway. The allure of the Pass faded as I ate and drank, stared at the sparkle of stars in the night sky, and strode confidently into more art galleries.

It’s tempting to compare Red Lodge with my first love, Jackson, Wyoming.  The more accurate comparison is to contrast the two. As I walked the streets, the light and shadows combined in a way that defied gravity and I felt unencumbered and lighter by 20 pounds. It was easy to be in the moment; to be mindful of sounds and scents and images; to be blissfully unaware of yourself and even more liberating, of those around you. Jackson is western kitsch wrapped in high-end furs. Red Lodge is laid-back in a genuinely friendly way that Jackson lacks, and emotionally evocative as only postcard perfect mountain ranges or blissfully pristine beaches, command.  

After 4 days of unplanned, spontaneous wandering, I went to Babcock & Miles and said, “I’ve come to see the Pass.”  They obliged with a picnic basket piled with adventure worthy food and wine – the perfect reward for a destination requiring some homework.

 

Red Lodge's Beartooth Pass at 10947 ft Elevation

Beartooth Pass

 

Snow Plows Clear 40 ft drifts on Beartooth Highway

Billings Gazette

 

40 foot drifts accumulate in Red Lodge's heavy snow fall winters

Snow Sideboards

Red Lodge Culinary Adventures, Mountain Style

Red Lodge’s Babcock and Miles

An assortment of my Red Lodge picnic by Babcock and Miles

Great Food and a Map = Adventure

 

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