I photographed these Marmots in the high alpine plateaus of the Beartooth Mountains along the beautiful Beartooth Wilderness Area Scenic Highway in Wyoming and Montana.
The Absarokas, unlike Beartooth, have ample vegetative cover, including dense forests and broad mountain meadows crossed by meandering streams. Mt. Cowan is the tallest peak in the Absaroka Range, topping out at 11,206 feet. Bighorn sheep and mountain goats roam about the mostly rugged country, along with elk, deer, moose, marmots, coyotes, black bears, wolves and members of a substantial grizzly population. The harsher Beartooths accommodate far fewer animals.
Only a relatively small portion of the extensive Absaroka-Beartooth Wilderness lies in Wyoming. The area is dominated by the high granitic alpine plateaus of the Beartooth Mountains, a starkly beautiful country of expansive views, hidden lakes among bald rocks, and wildly unpredictable weather. Cold and wind may strike any day of the year. Boulder-strewn Beartooth Plateau lies between 9,000 and 10,000 feet below bare crags and peaks streaked with red and yellow. The plateau is cut by deep canyons and carpeted in wildflowers when the snow melts in early July. This is an extremely fragile environment, with large expanses of tundra habitats, rare to the lower 48states.
The lakes are rich in trout, and the air teems with mosquitoes in summer. Wildlife is abundant in the forested valleys: moose, elk, and mule deer live here with grizzly bears. On barren ridges you’ll see little except pikas and the occasional mountain goat and bighorn sheep. An extensive network of trails is often under snow until early July.
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