Every flake of snow that falls in the Absaroka Beartooth Mountains, every drop of rain, eventually finds its way to the Mighty Yellowstone River. The Absaroka/Beartooth complex is a magnet for winter storms. Last year (2017-18) the SNOTEL site on the south-central boundary recorded almost 600 inches of accumulated snow. Winters are long and summers are short. It is no accident the the first backcountry ski guide for the region was titled Nine Months of Winter.
These characteristics combine for a valuable high-alpine reservoir of water that releases slowly into the Yellowstone River serving to attenuate summer water flows and temperatures. This abundance of clear, cold water has contributed to the world-renown, blue ribbon, cold water fishery that is the Yellowstone River. In the odd year that the Abasork/Beartooths fall short of collecting their normal snowfall, everyone suffers; ranging from irrigators who rely on the river to irrigate their crops, to the entire aquatic community that calls the Yellowstone home.