Photo Essay: Celebrating 40 Years of the Absaroka-Beartooth Wilderness
Enjoy towering peaks, sapphire lakes, and emerald meadows in all their glory
40 years ago today - that's March 27th, 1978 if you're keeping score - the Absaroka-Beartooth Wilderness was officially established by an act of Congress. The decision was the culmination of years of grassroots advocacy by Montanans committed to the protection of "this magnificent primeval expanse of nearly a million acres...a land of jewel-like lakes, clear cold streams, and picturesque waterfalls", in the words of wilderness champion Senator Lee Metcalf.
The creation of the Absaroka-Beartooth wasn't without difficulty, but the process was characterized by bipartisan collaboration, driven by something simple and timeless: love for what documentarian Kris Prinzing calls an "amazing, astonishing, endlessly superlative Wilderness."
Don't take our word for it, though. Explore the beauty of theAbsaroka-Beartooth for yourself. These photos tell a story of a landscape of towering peaks, sapphire lakes, lush meadows, stunning sunsets, and spectacular night skies. If you need some inspiration, some motivation, or just a reminder that the world is full of unimaginable beauty, take a few minutes and imagine yourself deep in the AB, tossing flies or watching the stars roll across the canopy.
A midsummer stream tumbles towards Incisor Lake (photo by Kristi Staebler)
The sun sets on Silver Run Plateau, reflected in the glassy surface of Lake Mary (photo by Matthew Weaver)
The last of the summer icebergs float on the sapphire surface of Black Canyon Lake (photo by Kristi Staebler)
Silver Run Peak, one of the highest in Montana, towers above Timberline Lake (photo by Colin Gaiser)
The sun lends some early-morning color to the craggy peaks guarding Pine Creek Lake (photo by Douglas Roane)
Tiptoeing up the northeast arete of Mt. Cowen as the sun breaks through the clouds (photo by Todd Burritt)
The last of the evening light on Black Canyon Lake (photo by Andrew Rivers)
A panoranmic view over the Crystal Lake basin (photo by Kristi Staebler)
The Milky Way shines pink and orange above Pine Creek Lake (photo by Shane Meyer-Gawlik)
Today, on the AB's 40th birthday, let's celebrate. If you can go, do it. Admire the towering peaks and let the solitude wash over you. If you can't, do the next best thing - use this photo essay as inspiration, pull out your maps, and start planning a trip to this vast and majestic Wilderness. Come summer, we'll see you out there.
- Aubrey Bertram, MWA eastern Montana field director