Started as a gold mining camp in 1870, the tiny hamlet of Cooke City (and sister town of Silver Gate) are the northeast gateway to Yellowstone National Park. Tucked between the Gallatin National Forest and the rugged Beartooth Mountains, Cooke City is surrounded by some of the most remote wilderness in the lower 48. At an elevation of nearly 7,500 feet, this is ground zero for outdoor enthusiasts. Numerous hiking trails offer every level of experience. Expect to see wildlife – on the trail and in the town. Black bears, grizzly bears, wolves, mountain goats, moose, bison, elk, deer and other animals inhabit this rugged terrain. Though small in population – just 300 residents in the summertime – Cooke City is not short on things to do. It’s a must-see for anyone wanting a true road adventure.
BE A MOUNTAIN EXPLORER
What is it like to live in a historic outpost? Find out in Cooke City.Outdoorsmen (and women) can enjoy some of the best fly-fishing in the world in nearby Yellowstone National Park. Popular rivers include Soda Butte Creek, Slough Creek and the Lamar River. Just be sure to observe Park regulations. Another option is to take a guided fishing trip, or go horseback riding with an outfitter. After the day’s activities, saunter down to Main Street for some fine fare. Try the famous bison burger at the Beartooth Cafe – it will be the burger that you judge burgers by for the rest of your life. Got a sweet tooth? Mosey down to Bearclaw Bakery for a scrumptious treat.
BECAUSE GETTING THERE IS HALF THE FUN
Cooke City has the privilege of being anchor to one of the most scenic byways in America. The Beartooth Highway, a National Scenic Byways All-American Road, snakes 68 miles between Cooke City and Red Lodge, Mont. Along the way, visitors will drive through one of the largest wilderness areas in the continent. Rising to 10,947 in elevation, the road crosses mountain meadows, dense forests and alpine tundra before descending down hairpin switchbacks to Red Lodge. For those who want a true wilderness adventure, pull into a campsite and stay overnight at Beartooth Lake Campground. Created by receding glaciers, Beartooth Lake is so clear you can see the bottom at every depth. At night, the brilliance of the starscape will be a memory you share with your grandchildren. Be sure to bring your camera – and your coat. Snow is possible any month of the year.
AND GETTING THERE CAN ALSO BE TWICE THE FUN
Adventurers can also experience the Chief Joseph Scenic Byway. This route splits off from the Beartooth Highway, crossing though the Absaroka Mountains to the Clark Fork Valley before connecting with U.S. 120 and on to Cody, Wyo. As you descend to the valley, you’ll experience the sweeping panorama of the Beartooth Mountains and Beartooth Plateau. In Cody, visit the world famous Buffalo Bill Center of the West where the iconic American West comes to life. Multiple museums and exhibits makes this a full day experience, so plan to stay overnight at the Cody KOA. True Western hospitality and excitement await.
Are you ready for an adventure?