Supporting stewardship of the Absaroka-Beartooth Wilderness and fostering appreciation of wild lands.

The Absaroka-Beartooth Wilderness comprises nearly 1 million acres of pristine wildlands bridging the Custer Gallatin and Shoshone National Forests in Montana and Wyoming. With the greatest expanse of alpine tundra in the Lower 48, the highest peaks in Montana, and 25 miles of border with Yellowstone National Park, the A-B is a crown jewel of both the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem and the National Wilderness Preservation System.

Castle Mountain in the Beartooths: at 12,612′, it’s the 3rd highest peak in Montana
© by Patrick Cross


Absaroka and Beartooth are the names of mountain ranges on the west and east side of the wilderness, respectively. “AB-ZOR-KA” comes from the word Apsáalooke, meaning “People of the Large-Beaked Bird”: the proper name for a local Indigenous community, the Crow Nation, with more than 10,000 enrolled members. The second part comes from the Apsáalooke word “Na Piet Say,” which translates to “Bear’s Tooth”: the name for a prominent mountain spire visible from U.S. 212, the “Beartooth Highway”. The A-B is the homeland of these and other Indigenous peoples like the Bannock, Blackfeet, Cheyenne, Shoshone, and many others, and it has been called by many other names in many other languages.

An ABWF educational hike, “Whitebarks, Grizzlies, and Climate Change,” in the Absarokas
© by Patrick Cross


Established in 1964, it’s a collection of 762 Congressionally-designated areas found within National Forests, National Parks, National Wildlife Refuges, and U.S. Bureau of Land Management lands. They are managed for their untrammeled (free from modern human control), undeveloped (free from permanent residence or structures of modern humans), and natural characteristics, and to provide outstanding opportunities for solitude and primitive recreation. The A-B joined the system on March 27, 1978. There are wilderness areas outside the NWPS too: the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes in northwestern Montana, for example, established the nation’s first Tribal Wilderness in the Mission Mountains. And of course, there were people influencing the landscapes with actions like controlled burns, residing on the landscape and building permanent structures like mountain sheep traps, being active participants in nature, and using these lands for activities other than recreation for thousands of years prior to 1964.

ABWF intern and USFS trail crew partner using a crosscut saw for trail maintenance deep in the A-B
Photo courtesy Elijah Traywick


We are a 501(c)(3) nonprofit whose mission is to promote stewardship of the A-B Wilderness and foster appreciation of all wild lands, which we do through volunteer engagement, education and outreach, and community collaboration. We partner with the U.S. Forest Service and others to maintain trails, pull invasive weeds, and restore heavily impacted sites; share information on wilderness ethics, regulations, skills, and values; and collect data for management decision-making and scientific research. We welcome ALL wilderness enthusiasts to join us as members and volunteers: the A-B is your land too!

We’re Hiring Summer Wilderness Steward Interns!

Love being outdoors, connecting with others, and passionate about wild lands?

The ABWF is seeking two Wilderness Steward Interns for summer 2021. Each steward will work with U.S. Forest Service trail crews and ABWF staff and volunteers in the Custer-Gallatin National Forest’s Absaroka-Beartooth Wilderness. Click here to learn more and apply!

Each steward will work with U.S. Forest Service trail crews and ABWF staff and volunteers in the Custer-Gallatin National Forest’s Absaroka-Beartooth Wilderness. One position will be stationed in the Gardiner Ranger District in Gardiner, Montana; the other will be stationed in the Beartooth Ranger District in Red Lodge, Montana. Both will include backcountry hitches as long as 9 days at a time, requiring hikes with heavy packs as much as 12+ miles a day

Check out our Award-Winning Atlas!

The “Atlas of the A-B Wilderness” is an award-winning book!  Voices of Yellowstone’s Capstone…was recently a Gold Medal selection by the Independent Publisher’s Book Awards! We are also one of three finalists for a High Plains Book Award in non-fiction! Order NOW online! Read a review!

ABWF’s Specialty Montana License Plate by Parks Reece

At the Absaroka-Beartooth Wilderness Foundation, our greatest achievements have always been driven by people with a passion for the A-B Wilderness. The ABWF organizes volunteers who work tirelessly with the Forest Service on trail building and maintenance projects: everything from wielding a Pulaski or crosscut saw to pulling invasive weeds. We also carry on educational outreach, artist-in-residence and trail ambassadors programs, tapping the talents of people who love the A-B Wilderness.

We are excited to announce our brand new ABWF-sponsored Montana specialty license plate, sporting beautiful and fanciful artwork by renowned Livingston artist Parks Reece. It just came out and is already generating tremendous buzz. We thank Parks for his generosity and passion for supporting our magnificent Wilderness!