Elevation: 7600 FT
Welcome to the end of the road! To clarify, that only applies in winter. But it still applies, and winter is seven months long in this remote part of Montana. You see, the famous Beartooth Highway (U.S. Route 212) is closed eastbound beyond Cooke City every winter. But don’t let that dissuade you from the Cooke City experience—there’s much fun to be had here despite it being described as “the middle of nowhere.”
Only around 140 people—very hardy folks—call Cooke City home, but in the summer the population more than triples. Along with its sister city of Silver Gate, Cooke City offers travelers and residents (who are outnumbered by dogs, by the way) stunning, remote wilderness and plenty of recreation opportunities all year long in the surrounding Custer Gallatin and Shoshone national forests. The ancient Bannock Indian Trail is just outside of town and old miner's cabins and the remains of hopeful mining claims sit silently in the mountains.
Travelers entering Yellowstone National Park by way of "the most scenic drive in America”—the Beartooth Highway—pass through Cooke City just 4 miles east of the park and soon find themselves in the famous Lamar Valley (dubbed the "America's Serengeti") for epic wildlife watching.
Cooke City’s other worst-kept secret is its incredible snowmobiling terrain. This little outpost boasts colossal, world-class snowmobiling with miles of epic backcountry making for a sled head’s dream. The season starts early and ends late, extending into June and sometimes even July. Spring days make for longer daylight hours and more riding. Climb to Daisy Pass at 10,000 feet. Free ride Henderson Mountain. Explore old mining country, play in deep powder meadows and boondock through the trees. Then, tell tales of your adventures at the local saloon. In the warmer seasons, hike, fish and explore the area by horseback.
Discover more by visiting the Cooke City Montana Museum for a first-hand look at the unique history and culture of Cooke City and its surrounding areas.
Cooke City was originally named “Shoo Fly” as it served as a camp for the Shoo Fly Mine. The local mayor was voted in by an impromptu election in one of Cooke City’s bars. There’s no official government here, and no law enforcement either. It’s rumored that patrol cars with dummies are placed at either end of town to discourage driving over the speed limit.
Stop by the Cooke City Store, one of the oldest general stores in Montana. Grab a latte and a pastry at the Bearclaw Bakery and set out on the All-American Beartooth Highway for the drive of a lifetime. Also, note, there’s no cell service in Cooke City. You can make a connection with nature instead!
Live Like a Local
Hit up the annual Hog Roast Fundraiser for the Upper Yellowstone Snowmobile Club, or sidle up to the bar at the Miners Saloon and Sammies Café.