Skies up the Sky Top Lakes valley toward peaks "The Spires", Mt.
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Photograph by Tim Laman, National Geographic
Skies up the Sky Top Lakes valley toward peaks "The Spires", Mt.

Montana: Climb Granite Peak

Take a two- to four-day weekend to tackle the highest point in Montana.

What Is It? Take on a burly 20- to 24-mile round-trip backpack excursion to top out on one of the most difficult high points in the 50 states. Granite Peak, an imposing chunk of rock located in the Beartooth Range, towers over southern Montana, beckoning to those with an adventurous spirit. But don’t take this climb lightly—it’s not just a walk-up. Even though Granite itself is only 12,799 feet, you’ll climb 6,300-plus feet over 10 to 12 miles and will encounter Class 3, 4, and up to 5.7 climbing depending on the route you choose. Reaching this high point requires good physical fitness and a guide or your own solid skills in navigation and safe travel over steep, exposed rock and snow.

Why Do It? The approach is literally and figuratively breathtaking. As you climb continuously, you’ll travel through Montana’s quintessential Big Sky Country, complete with snowfields, flower-filled meadows, clear alpine lakes, snow-capped peaks, and incredible panoramas. The technical portion of the climb—which involves traveling over a snow bridge and across scree slopes, traversing a few narrow ledges, and climbing a chimney—will challenge your balance and grit and will definitely get the adrenaline pumping. This is truly a wilderness adventure.

Make It Happen: Go with the experts. Sam Magro, owner and head guide at Montana Alpine Guides, will arrange logistics and safely guide you up and down Granite.

50 Best Summer Weekend Adventures: Great adventures are all around us—and summer is the ideal time to seek them. To give you some ideas and inspiration, every weekday we will be sharing a different U.S. summer weekend adventure, state-by-state from A to Z. We invite you to share your favorite summer weekend adventures in the comments section below when your favorite state is featured. Report back after the weekend to tell us about the outdoor adventures you had.