Snowmobiling in Montana’s Yellowstone Country
Montana’s Yellowstone Country has some of the best snowmobiling terrains in the lower 48. From big hill climbs to open powder meadows and scenic trails, the quality and quantity of riding are nothing short of impressive. As a result, each area you explore will be unique, both in the character of the land and the people who call it home.
Cooke City is a small town amongst some massive mountains known for both backcountry and groomed trail riding. Those who enjoy this area love the cozy nature of the town, the hardcore hill climbing, deep powder fields, and the 60 miles of groomed trails to deliver you to and from town. This area is also a favorite for those who enjoy using their sleds to go backcountry skiing and snowboarding.
Being at a higher elevation, Cooke City often gets late-season storms, and the snow sticks around, extending the riding season even into June!
For a small town, they pack a big punch regarding food and libations. You’ll find delicious meals made from scratch and lots of colorful conversation at the pubs.
If you’re looking for a quieter stay, consider Silver Gate, Montana, just down the road, but on the quieter side, right next to the Yellowstone border. Here you can cozy up, enjoy a warm fire and a good book, and revel in the stillness of winter.
Be sure to pack your binoculars; if you enter the Lamar Valley in Yellowstone National Park, it’s a great spot to watch wolves. They are most active in the early morning and late evening.
Die-hard snowmobilers love West Yellowstone, which gets an average of 150” of average annual snowfall each year and has over 400 miles of trails. Add in plenty of powder fields, hill climbs, and spectacular vistas, and it’s not hard to see why. Watch for the snow ghosts; trees covered in so much snow they resemble ghosts.
West Yellowstone is larger than Cooke City, with more hotels, restaurants, and shopping. And, for those in your party who like a quieter experience, Rendezvous Ski Trails, is a favorite for Nordic Skiers.
Yellowstone National Park
A guided snowmobile tour into Yellowstone should be on everyone’s bucket list. Between the steamy thermal activity and the ice-covered bison, the vast land all covered in white seems surreal in the winter. While snowmobile trips are only by tour, with an approved outfitter or guide, there is a non-commercially guided Snowmobile Access Program in Yellowstone. The program allows up to four groups (one at each over snow entrance) to enter the Park daily. The permits are awarded through a yearly lottery.
Big Sky sits between some big mountains, and the snowmobiling follows suit. The Doe Creek Trail is great for beginners and leads to the Buck Ridge Trail, a 16-mile local favorite. Taylor Fork Trail is groomed weekly in the winter and has ample parking.
The Big Sky Snowmobile Trail is considered one of the best for more adventurous riders. The trail is divided into five sections, going from Bear Creek to West Yellowstone. The lower areas are marked and easy to follow, but in some of the upper sections, the trail is hard to find, so be sure to stop in a local snowmobile shop and research the conditions.
The Bridger and Bangtail ranges are popular spots for snowmobiling around Bozeman, as are the mining roads around Little Bear Canyon. In addition, the Battle Ridge/ Fairy Lake trailhead and Olsen Creek Trail are popular trails just minutes from downtown.
Bozeman is a hub of activity with restaurants, music, shopping, art, and entertainment happening year-round. It's the place to go if you want to enjoy the nightlife as much as the sled life.
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