Touring the future on Insta-Teller Road

  • No code, no access

    Ray Ring
 

Note: This article is a sidebar to this issue's feature story.

This gate shows what the future might be like around the West. The gate is operated by a computerized keypad, something like an insta-teller. And it's all about money. So call the 10-mile-long gravel road beyond the gate Insta-Teller Road. It's a shortcut to everything west of Big Sky - the only road through a mountain range.

At one time the land beyond the gate was public; then it was swapped to loggers who roughed in the road. Developers bought nearly 40 square miles from the loggers, smoothed the road and put gates on the upper and lower access.

Inside the gates is a subdivision where a 20-acre parcel sells for $250,000 to $500,00. If you want to drive past the gate, you have to buy a lot, or be friendly enough with someone who has one in order to get the keypad code. Insta-Teller Road might be the world's most expensive toll road right now, and the price will only rise. The gate is part of an upscale marketing plan, which includes conservation easements that protect elk habitat.

But the gates have negatives. If you're in the ski village and you need to visit your county courthouse, you have to drive more than 200 miles round trip, all the way around the mountain range, to the county seat, Virginia City - unless you know the code for Insta-Teller Road, in which case your trip is shortened by two-thirds.

If you're hiking to Cedar Lake, the most popular destination high in the nearest national-forest wilderness, you have these choices: You can drive Insta-Teller Road to a trailhead, and your hike to the lake is only five miles or so. If the gate stops your car, your hike is 12 miles.

Meanwhile, in between the conservation easements, people who can afford it are buying lots on Insta-Teller Road, and hiking, biking, skiing, four-wheeling and snowmobiling from their more convenient trailheads, putting the backcountry to more use.

"We're seeing more and more use of the wilderness, more motorized intrusions," says Mark Petroni, district ranger for the Beaverhead National Forest. "People with the right politics, the right connections, can get past the gates."

This story package includes these other sidebar articles:

- Chet Huntley's legacy includes suppression of a free press

- Big Sky above, private land below

- How Huntley sold Big Sky to Montana

- Armies of skiers are coming to Yellowstone

High Country News Classifieds
  • GENERAL MANAGER
    The Board of UYWCD seeks a new GM to manage operations & to implement our robust strategic plan. Details at www.upperyampawater.com. EOE
  • IN TUCSON, FOR SALE: A BEAUTIFUL, CLASSIC MID-CENTURY MODERN HOME
    designed by architect David Swanson in 1966. Located a block from Saguaro National Forest, yet minutes to Downtown and the UofA campus, 3706 sqft, 6...
  • EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
    The Friends of the San Juans is seeking a new leader guide our efforts to protect and restore the San Juan Islands and the Salish...
  • 80 ACRES
    straddles North Platte Fishery, Wyoming. Legal access 2 miles off 1-80. Call 720-440-7633.
  • DIRECTOR OF PRODUCT AND MARKETING
    High Country News seeks a Director of Product and Marketing to join our senior team during an exciting chapter of innovation and growth. This individual...
  • OWN A THRIVING MOUNTAIN GUIDE SERVICE.
    Eastern Sierra guide service for sale to person with vision & expertise to take it onwards. Since 1995 with USFS & NPS permits. Ideal for...
  • IMPROVED LOT
    Private road, hillside, views. Well, pad, septic, 99 sq.ft. hut. Dryland permaculture orchard. Wildlife. San Diego--long growing season
  • UNIQUE INVESTMENT OPPORTUNITY
    Profitable off-the-grid business located 2 miles from Glacier National Park. Owner has 6 years operating experience. Seeking investor or partner for business expansion and enhancement....
  • REMOTE SITKA ALASKA FLOAT HOUSE VACATION RENTAL
    Vacation rental located in calm protected waters 8 miles from Sitka, AK via boat with opportunities to fish and view wildlife. Skiff rental also available.
  • EXPERT LAND STEWART
    Available for site conservator, property manager. View resume at http://skills.ojadigital.net.
  • CONSERVATIONIST? IRRIGABLE LAND?
    Stellar seed-saving NGO is available to serious partner. Package must include financial support. Details: http://seeds.ojaidigital.net.
  • CANYONLANDS FIELD INSTITUTE
    Colorado Plateau Natural & Human History Field Seminars. Lodge, river, hiking options. Small groups, guest experts.
  • WESTERN NATIVE SEED
    Specializing in native seeds and seed mixes for western states.
  • CHUCK BURR'S CULTUREQUAKE.COM BLOG
    Change will happen when we see a new way of living. Thinking to save the world.
  • COMING TO TUCSON?
    Popular vacation house, furnished, 2 bed/1 bath, yard, dog-friendly. Lee at [email protected] or 520-791-9246.
  • OJO CALIENTE COMMERCIAL VENTURE
    Outstanding location near the world famous Ojo Caliente Mineral Spring Resort. Classic adobe Mercantile complete w/living quarters, separate 6 unit B&B, metal building and spacious...