Beartooth Highway Part 1: Scottsdale, Arizona to Jackson, Wyoming

Odometer (Legend):  529,750


Odometer (ILX):  83,995


Leg Distance:  1,009 Miles


I’ve got a super-sized helping of road trip mania for you this week!  Here’s the lowdown:

  • Five days: Thursday through Monday
  • Six states: Arizona, Nevada, Utah, Idaho, Wyoming, Montana
  • Two national parks: Grand Teton National Park & Yellowstone National Park
  • Total miles:  2,545
  • Total time in the ILX:  Estimated 45-50 hours
  • Other Acura sightings:  Legend, 0; ILX, 1

There are a lot of “bucket list” roads I’m systematically crossing off as I experience them.  Earlier this year, I learned of a road that was an absolute must-see:  Beartooth Highway.  I took one look at my Rand McNally 2014 road atlas and saw this squiggly line straddling the Montana / Wyoming border.  “What is that?!  I must experience it!” I thought.


The trip write-up will be published in 3 parts.

The first leg of my drive from Scottsdale, Arizona to Logan, Utah was a 12-hour trek that I’ve done dozens of times in the past. It was the drive from Logan onward that became a new adventure. When I arrived at my dad’s place around noon on Saturday, he was outside working in the yard. His duffel bag was packed and he was ready to rock and roll as my copilot for this latest crazy road trip. My dad have road-tripped many times together before, and it’s due in large part to his appreciation for our beautiful country that I have such an itch for exploration. In 2006, dad and I drove my Legend from Utah to Alaska & back – a memorable 7,000+ mile trip across some of the most beautiful terrain I’ve ever laid eyes on.


Before I was ready to leave Logan, we had to stop at the best pizza place in town: Fredrico’s. Located near the Utah State University campus, it’s been a landmark in Cache Valley for decades. After savoring some butter-drenched garlic bread, I took the wheel as we pointed the Acura’s nose northward. Within 25 minutes on Highway 91, we’d already passed the Idaho state line. After fueling at a gas station called La Tienda in Franklin, I decided to turn the reins over to my dad for a stretch. He got in the car, hit the brake, and held the start button.  Nothing happened.  “You have to push the clutch in,” I instructed him.  We had a good laugh.  He’s gotten so used to driving his auto-transmission Hyundai Sonata.


Scattered clouds looked over us as we wound our way through the Cache National Forest. We made a pit stop in Mound Valley at a home where my grandfather lived when he was growing up. I’d asked grandpa for the home’s address a number of weeks ago. “It doesn’t have one,” he said. “Just look for the first house on the left after you cross the Bear River the second time on Highway 34.” Sure enough, his directions were spot-on. I could tell right away why my relatives had at one time settled in that area. Looking around at the views and feeling the comfortable temperatures, it was tough to believe I’d left the cactus-lined, scorching hot desert just a day prior. Dad and I stopped the historic Henry Store, dating back to 1908 and operated by a single family for more than 70 years before closing down.


Soon, we closed in on our nightly destination.  Jackson is home to around 10,000 people and nestled at the base of the massive Grand Teton mountains. The cowboy culture runs strong, and Broadway Avenue is lined with more elk and moose statues than I could count.  Traditions run strong in my family.  Growing up, each time we visited Jackson, my dad would park our truck at the same location & snap a picture.  Here for your viewing enjoyment is a sampling of the photos we’ve taken in the last 22 years.

1992 (I’m standing at center with my legs crossed)


1997 (I’m standing at far right)


2000  (I’m standing 2nd from right)


2014 (There I am!)


Look at how much those pine trees have grown!  It’s crazy what a couple of decades will do.  We checked in at the Painted Buffalo hotel and got settled in before walking up to the town center. One of Jackson’s best-known features is the elk antler arch that stands at each corner of the park. Each arch was constructed in 1960 and for decades has welcomed tourists.


We dined at the Mangy Moose Saloon in Teton Village. From our table in the dining room, we could watch out the massive back windows in the log cabin structure and see the ski slopes in the distance.  Tired and needing maximum rest for the following day’s travels, we retired at the Painted Buffalo for the night.


Next up:  Beartooth Highway in all its glory.  Tune in next time for that.

Here are the rest of the pictures from that first leg of the journey.

Beaver, Utah


Quick meet-up with my friend Branson in Salt Lake City, Utah.  Branson has a Cayman White Pearl 1995 Legend LS coupe 6-speed with 156,000 miles on the odometer.  It’s immaculate!


My dad and I departing from Logan, northbound on Highway 91 toward the Idaho state line.


Pit stop near Grace, Idaho at my grandfather’s old farmhouse.


Roadside scenery along Idaho Highway 34.


Entering Wyoming!


Freedom, Wyoming.  This garage has been out of commission for awhile.


Post office doesn’t look very modern, either.


Even the gas pumps are a blast from the past.  They’re set at $0.42 / gallon.


Final stretch into Jackson as the highway travels along the Snake River.


Gunfight reenactment in central Jackson.


See you again soon!

2 Responses to “Beartooth Highway Part 1: Scottsdale, Arizona to Jackson, Wyoming”

  1. The trees in Jackson have grown leaps and bounds. I love that kind of thing! Time just keeps marching on, oblivious of the lives of those who stand and pose for a photo every few years!

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