Lauded by Charles Kuralt as the “most beautiful road in America,” U.S. 212 straddles a necklace of interconnected lakes and streams on the Beartooth Plateau that combine unsurpassed alpine scenery with trout fishing that can bring a fish to hand with nearly every cast. Hundreds of lakes span the Wyoming-Montana border here, so you have to know where you are before casting your fly to the ring of the rise. Buy Idaho and Montana licenses in Red Lodge or Cooke City before taking the uphill grade, and bring a pair of sturdy hiking boots. Roadside fishing is for 8-inch brookies. To catch larger rainbows and cutthroats, you’ll have to shoulder your pack. Wildflowers peak in July, but so do the lightning storms and mosquitoes. The Top of the World Store (307-899-2482) offers tackle and gas in case you forgot to fill up below. Snowstorms can close the Beartooth Highway any day of the summer; contact the Wyoming Department of Transportation (307-772-0824; wyoroad.info) for updates.
Next Best: Trappers Lake and Flat Tops Wilderness lakes, Colorado Set on a glacial plateau and accessible by road, Trappers Lake is so visually stunning that it’s hard to wrench yourself away long enough to sample the dozens of trout-rich ponds in the Flat Tops Wilderness beyond. Fly pattern isn’t as important here as a backpack and sturdy boots. More info: Colorado Division of Wildlife, 970-248-7175; wildlife.state.co.us. Wyatt’s Sporting Goods in Meeker, 970-878-4428