Spotting Granite Peak
Even though I am a native Montanan and have always loved the Beartooths, I never knew much about Granite Peak until I set a goal of climbing it.
Being the highest point in Montana, it stands to reason that it should be visible from afar. The trouble is you might not know where to look above the high plateaus and peaks of the Beartooths. Whether you are from Montana, travelling from afar to high point the state, or just out on a drive down I-90, I think you will enjoy spotting it.
Once you know what to look for, it will be clearly visible. To help you, this album starts close up and zooms all the way back to near the airport in Billings. All distances are "as the crow flies" and were measured using the compass tool of National Geographic TOPO! so they are very accurate.
Distance: 1 mile
This is from the western shoulder of Tempest mountain at the southern edge of the Froze to Death (FTD) plateau.
Distance: 1.25 miles
This is one of the last and highest rock shelters on FTD. Memorize the outline of the peak to the left, the northwest ridge to the right, and the notch in between. This is the key to spotting it from a distance. The northwest summit is the second highest point in Montana (12,745ft), but Mt. Wood to the north gets the nod as 2nd place mountain at 12,659ft.
Distance: 2 miles
Note the full outline of the ridge and that FTD plateau will always block the view of the lower flanks of the mountain.
Distance: 22 miles
This is on the West Rosebud Road between Fishtail and the Roscoe turn off. The winter's snow still covers FTD plateau on 2006-05-13. In fact, just after the Roscoe turn off will be your last look at Granite until you reach the far end of FTD or midway up Huckleberry creek.
Distance: 30.5 miles
Drive down main street Absarokee and its right in front of you. The northwest ridge is obscured by the pine tree in photo center, but you can see the peak just below the yellow traffic light on left. Snow fields are still visable on FTD July 8th, 2006. Look for them in the next picture taken the same day.
Note: from here out, you'll see things better with the full size image rather than this medium size thumbnail. Click the picture once to go to it's object page, then click it again there to get the full size. Or just go straight there:
Distance: 42 miles
This is from the shoulder of I-90 at the top of the hill just west of Columbus. Look left of center for the distinctive outline reaching for the sky above patchy July snow fields of FTD. Bring binoculars and you will have no trouble spotting it. Mt. Wood is on the right half of the picture. Its distance is only 36.4 miles so it appears higher from this vantage point.
Distance: 75 miles
This is atop the Rimrocks in Billings just west of the airport. Granite Peak on the left and Mt Wood on the right are at the apex of their respective sides of the dihedral in the center of the photo. Granite is the tiny bump with its slightly lower NW ridge to its right. Don't even try to see it without clicking through to the full size image though. Taken 2007-02-03