Descending through more switchbacks, you’ll see many alpine lakes, including Frozen, Long, and Little Bear lakes near the road. These lakes are free of ice for only a few weeks of the year. You’ll pass trailheads for several backcountry hikes on the south side of Beartooth Highway’s summit. The trailhead for the Beartooth High Lake Trail is at Island Lake, which also has a campground and a boat ramp. Be prepared for cold nights if you camp here the elevation is about 9500 feet (2900 m).
Island Lake and dozens of others in this part of the plateau are connected by small streams and fall into patterns of straight lines. Geologists call such small, usually circular lakes in a glacial valley paternosters, because they resemble a rosary or string of beads. Crystal-clear Beartooth Lake has a campground, picnic area, and boat ramp, and lies at the foot of a monumental beige and red cliff, Beartooth Butte. Not far below the summit of this butte, fossil fish have been discovered.