Tucked up between Yellowstone National Park and the Beartooth Highway, Cooke City and Silver Gate, Montana, are as unique as their locale. These tiny towns are the perfect getaway for outdoor adventure, quiet relaxation, and western hospitality. It’s the kind of place you want to nestle into, forget about the bustle of everyday life, and spend a few days appreciating the solace of nature.
Accommodations range from single cabins and standard hotel rooms to all-inclusive lodges and entire homes for larger parties. You can find lodging right in town, or for a more immersive experience, there are options located a few miles out of town, tucked even farther into the forests.
As for adventure, there are plenty of options for all ages and abilities. The Northeast entrance to Yellowstone is closed due to flood damage on the roads, but from Silver Gate, you can bike or hike into Yellowstone National Park and explore trails near the entrance. Tour guides are allowed into the Park, so if you opt for a guided fishing, hiking, or horseback riding excursion, you’ll be fortunate to enjoy the experience with fewer visitors.
Anglers will love fishing the Clarks Fork of the Yellowstone, where many fish live in the fresh, cool water. If you’re learning, Skyline Guest Ranch and Guide Service offers guided trips to fly fish in Yellowstone or lake fishing in the Beartooth Mountains.
If you’re a hiker, the options are seemingly endless, with many trails taking you to alpine lakes such as Becker and Albino Lakes, Sheepherder Lakes, or Beartooth Lakes Loop. You may also want to check out these Four Waterfall Hikes Just a Few Miles from Cooke City.
To get deep into the backcountry, try a guided horseback ride. Beartooth Plateau Outfitters has half and full-day rides, or you can utilize their services for a drop camp where they haul your gear, and you can either hike or ride to camp. (Guided fishing trips are also available.)
ATV rentals are another great way to get into the backcountry, and the mining roads around Cooke City and Silver Gate make for excellent trails. You can rent side-by-sides from Bearclaw Bob’s (and get a great meal from the Bearclaw Bakery before you head out!) Or, Big Bear Lodge has teamed up with Tread N’ Trails to offer half and full-day rentals.
The Beartooth Highway commands at least a day for exploring, if not more. You’ll truly feel as though you are on top of the world (as the general store at the top is so aptly named) when you reach this alpine tundra full of blankets of wildflowers, an endless string of mountain views, and the opportunity to look down on several mountain lakes. If you can take the time, head over the pass and enjoy the town of Red Lodge with its quaint shops and delicious restaurants (don’t miss the Montana Candy Emporium!)
As for dining, libations, and shopping in Cooke City and Silver Gate, we’ll promise you this; you won’t go hungry! The Beartooth Café and The Bistro both serve fantastic dinners – plus, there is something about the fresh mountain air that makes everything taste incredibly decadent. In addition, the Antler’s Lodge Tavern and Taps Restaurant have 15 tap beers from across Montana, and they’re known for their bison burgers!
As you wind down the days, be sure to bring your binoculars, camera, and star gazing app – without light pollution, star gazing is spectacular and well beyond what you could conjure up in your mind. Step outside and prepare to be amazed. One of our favorite things is to curl up with a cozy blanket to identify constellations and watch for shooting stars – natural entertainment at its finest.
For a complete guide to planning your trip to Cooke City and Silver Gate, go to CookeCityChamber.org.