The fabulous, vista-packed Absaroka Beartooth Wilderness covers more than 943,377 acres and is perfect for a solitary adventure. Thick forests, jagged peaks and marvelous, empty stretches of alpine tundra are all found in this wilderness, saddled between Paradise Valley in the west and Yellowstone National Park in the south. The thickly forested Absaroka Range dominates the area's west half and is most easily reached from Paradise Valley or the Boulder River Corridor. The Beartooth Range's high plateau and alpine lakes are best reached from the Beartooth Hwy south of Red Lodge (closed October to May). Because of its proximity to Yellowstone, the Beartooth portion gets two-thirds of the area's traffic.
A picturesque old mining town with fun bars and restaurants and a good range of places to stay, Red Lodge offers great day hikes, backpacking and, in winter, skiing right near town. The Red Lodge Visitor Center has information on accommodations; hikers should seek out the Yodeler, whose owners have great intel on local trails; for fancier digs, try the Pollard.