West Rosebud Lake is a Great Place to Spend a Day
Just south of Absarokee there are two big valleys in the Beartooths. Aptly named, East Rosebud is the valley to the east, and West Rosebud is the valley to the west. Both valleys offer a unique look at the rugged mountains, and both offer exciting adventures. Toward the end of the drivable portion of the valley, near the trailhead to Mystic Lake, is West Rosebud Lake. It is a fun place to play, and easy to get to.
Like many of the lakes in the area, the main reason I go is for the fishing. Put a worm on a hook, and in no time you can be pulling in some nice sized brown and cutthroat trout. The deepest part of the lake will be near the dam, which is where I have done most of my fishing. However, the whole lake has a plethora of fishes. Of course you do not have to go to West Rosebud Lake to fish. There are a few places around the lake where you can set up picnic. You can enjoy the view while you take a dip in the lake if you are there during the heat of the summer. If it is a little cooler, you can hike around the area to see some of the hidden wonders of the area. There is plenty of wildlife to watch, so take your camera and see if you can find some of the more elusive animals.
Just up the road from the lake is the power station at the trailhead to Mystic Lake; from there you can take a day hike to see the dam at Mystic. West Rosebud Lake is also regulated by a dam, so the lake has had a chance to back up and get big and deep in the middle. So if you are out there swimming, be careful not to get too close to the dam as the current can take you in quickly. While camping in the area is allowed, there are no designated camping spots at West Rosebud Lake, to do so you will have to go to Emerald Lake, just a few hundred yards down the road.
West Rosebud Lake is just one of the many places near Billings where you can go to play. In the winter you can head up there to ice fish, ice skate, or cross country ski (although this year the snowpack is not great for skiing). In the summer you can go to fish, swim, picnic, and hike. The most important thing to remember is there is no garbage service. So if you pack it in, pack it out. The lake is only about a 2 hour drive from Billings, so leaving in the morning will let you spend plenty of time to take in the area. To get there head through Absarokee and take a right on Nye Road. Shortly after you pass through Fishtail you will see West Rosebud Road (it is on a bend in the road so be careful not to miss it). After a few miles West Rosebud Road will make an obvious drop to the south toward the mountains. A little further on the dirt road and you will soon be at West Rosebud Lake (here is a map). There are three areas by the lake where you can pull off and enjoy the view, so stake your claim, and take a lot of pictures.
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