After getting back to Montana from some late may early june riding at Mt. Hood I was expecting to put my snowboard gear into storage for the summer and enjoy all that Montana summers have to offer. Apparently that might have to wait a few more weeks. Summer lifts are alive again in Montana.
I spent last weekend on top of the Beartooth Pass outside of Red Lodge, Montana. The Beartooth Pass road is a 45 mile windy road that gains 4000 feet in elevation with some corners that drop straight down thousands of feet. The road tops out at almost 11,000 feet and continues through the well known Cooke City and Yellowstone National Park. The Beartooth mountains have over 20 peaks that are over 12,000 feet, and the road puts you on top of every type of line, mellow to hairy. Some are even lapable by car. Along with big lines, there are lots of jump spots, rock rides and road gaps that can keep you entertained for days. Put Rome's first movie "Any Means" into the DVD player and watch the intro. That will give you a good idea of the riding up on the pass.
If your not feeling like shoveling a jump or just want to do some laps the Red Lodge International Ski and Snowboard camp has two poma lifts that operate 7 days a week until 2 pm. Don't expect a large lodge here, they operate out of a camper trailer and because of forest service rules they can't sell you anything besides a lift ticket ($45 full day or $25 11-2 pm), so remember to bring water, snacks and some cold ones for after riding. Unlike Mt Hood, you can drop off a cornice and get some steep turns in before you get to the park which has a very fun double jump line, a long down bar, barrel jib, flat box and flat down box to name a few of the jibs.
If your staying overnight remember to bring your camping gear, there are no hotels here unless you make the trek back into Red Lodge. There are pay camp sites, but if you look hard enough there are plenty of free sites to be had. Just remember to leave all food and garbage in car when your sleeping, of you might wake up with a $200 ticket.
The lifts are scheduled to run until July 4th, but if the snow stays good hopefully riding off the road will last a few weeks longer.
What are you waiting for? It's almost the end of June, but you can still ride in Montana. Pack up your car, head to Beartooth pass, ride the lifts, get creative off the road, snowboard till the sun drops at around 10 pm, kick back by the fire, sleep hard and do it all again the next day. It's as easy as that.
For more info on the lifts check out www.rlissc.com/.