“Not all those who wander are lost.” – J.R.R. Tolkien
Cooke City, MT – Wandering around aimlessly seems like something not many of us would be willing to do. It’s mainly because of money, willpower and, above all, time. And even if one had the first two, free time is something that has become incredibly scarce in today’s world. But, should you choose to explore our lovely nation despite everything aforementioned, there’s a place you shouldn’t miss. It’s called Cooke City, MT.
Challenging Yourself Can Be Difficult, But Rewarding
Okay, so you’re sitting at home, reading this article, thinking, “What is this guy on about? Why would I want to leave the safety of my home and civilization and go out traveling across America?” True, you have a valid point, my friend. But, in order to grow and above all, beat everyday monotony and rut, one needs to get out of their comfort zone. And, if you don’t mind me saying – Cooke City, MT, is the perfect place to start doing just that.
Its full name is actually Cooke City-Silver Gate and it has a home in Park County, Montana. Now, as soon as you hear someone say Montana, your first thought is probably Yellowstone National Park. As it should be, quite frankly. But, Cooke City actually sits toward the northeast of the park. That makes it one of those places that are just perfect for a whole-day field trip while visiting the park. However, you can also make a mission of visiting the town specifically for the purpose of enjoying its quaint charm. And that’s something we definitely recommend.
No Railroad? No Problem!
The history of Cooke City can be traced back to July of 1870. This marks the first record of the discovery of gold by a group of prospectors. The town was referred to as the Miners Camp, or Clarks Fork City prior to 1882. Of February 1 of that year, the town was officially named Cooke City, Montana Territory, in honor of Jay Cooke Jr. Interestingly, Cooke Jr. was a Pacific Railroad contractor who had promoted the promise of the railroad to this mountain hamlet, which, as history records, never came.
Today, Cooke City, MT, is host to several winter wonderlands sports. These include tour skiing, snowmobiling and winter photography. Bordered by Gallatin, Shoshone and Custer National Forests, this small town is a full-on natural haven. Hikers, campers and fisherman alike enjoy the many high country lakes and streams that adorn the area. This pristine landscape is also the home of deer, elk, moose and bear.
Cooke City, MT – A Place Where Scenic Drives Are As Important As The Town Itself
One of the most breathtaking aspects of every visit to Cooke City, MT, are the drives that lead into the small town. Rightfully regarded as some of the most beautiful in the country, they deserve to be mentioned for their unique contribution to the overall experience. That being said, a cruise on the Beartooth Highway, or US Highway 212, should not be missed in spring and summer. This 68-mile stretch of road is truly stunning and takes travelers from the town to nearby Red Lodge, MT, through the misty mountains.
The Chief Joseph Scenic Byway, or WY 296, is also as hard to believe as the aforementioned route. It actually hooks up with the Beartooth about 10 miles from the park. That being said, you should definitely stop by the Cooke City Store once you’re in town. This place stocks maps, groceries, books and dry goods, and was first built in 1886.
And finally, when all that running around gets you aching for some R’n’R, Cooke City has also got you covered. Burgers and steak served on a Main Street patio are available at the famous Beartooth Café. The ultra-rustic Miners Saloon is where you’ll be able to grab a delicious pint. And of course, the Bearclaw Bakery and Loving Cup Café are also ideal for breakfast burritos and morning lattes. At least the locals think so. Why not see if they’re telling the truth?