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Pilot Peak is a striking pinnacle in the immediate northeast of Yellowstone National Park, visible along US-212 highway which approaches the park from the direction of Bilings, Montana. It is part of volcanic Absaroka Range which forms the massive eastern escarpment of Yellowstone Plateau. US-212 highway is the highest road in the Yellowstone area, reaching 10940 feet elevation at Beartooth Pass, about 20 miles east of Pilot Peak. This stretch of highway winds through a spectacular alpine country, and is designated the "Beartooth Scenic Byway". Granite Peak, Montana's highest, is not far to the northeast. The name Pilot Peak, and it's obvious neighbor, Index Peak, refer to the alignment of the two summits. From the north, they line up to resemble the sight on a mariner's sextant. They proved invaluable to pioneers of the Greater Yellowstone region since they, along with the nearby Tetons, mark the boundaries of the steaming plateau known as Colter's Hell. The Washburn expedition in 1870, credited with 'discovering' Yellowstone Park, used Pilot Peak to guide them to the rim of the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone and the incredible Geyser Basins beyond. This expedition, armed with photographs by Jackson and paintings by Thomas Moran, convinced Congress to pass the Organic Act of 1872, creating the world's first National Park. The words are inscribed on the Roosevelt Arch outside of Gardiner, Montana: "...to be preserved ... for the benefit and enjoyment of the people."

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