know the saying, “big things come in small packages.”
fits Cooke City, MT, to a T.
you’re looking for an area with miles and miles of groomed trails, don’t even
think about heading to Cooke
City. There’s only a
token 60 miles of groomed trails here.
you aren’t particularly fond of navigating a sometimes treacherous stretch of
highway to get to a riding area—no matter how good it is—then skip Cooke City.
There are some spots between Corwin Springs and Silver Gate that will make the
hair on the back of your neck stand straight up.
you’re idea of “services” are a host of hotels, restaurants, plenty of
nightlife options, well, Cooke
City isn’t your place.
There are some great lodging and eating establishments in Cooke City,
but not dozens and dozens. This is a small town of 140 hardy souls who welcome
snowmobilers practically into their home.
if you don’t like being at the end of the road, well, Cooke City
ain’t your place, at least in the winter. There’s one way in and one way out of
Cooke City as plowing on Highway 212 stops at
the east edge of town.
if you want one of the best backcountry snowmobiling experiences anywhere in
the West, then Cooke
City is your place. That’s the “big things” we’re referring to.
has a loyal group of sledders who return year after year for the same
reason—backcountry riding and hillclimbing at its finest with some of the
deepest powder in the Rockies. Heck, more than
200 inches (207 to be exact) fall in Cooke
City (elevation 7,560
feet) and the riding goes up from there. When you consider the high elevation riding, you have the makings for a long
riding season, like from November to May.
With terrain like Cooke City
offers, it shouldn’t come as any surprise that the boys with their big toys
like to congregate here to test their horsepower and climbing skills. One of
the most fun parts of riding Cooke is that you can climb up and over a saddle
and find another spectacular bowl or playground on the other side. And it’s not
like there’s one bowl, but dozens full of powder.
Cooke City sits on
the Montana/Wyoming border just outside the eastern edge of Yellowstone National Park
and is flanked on the north by a big Wilderness area. Don’t let that scare you
off. There is still plenty of riding available in the mountains surrounding Cooke City
and the Wilderness boundaries are fairly well marked. You’ve got two mountain
ranges surrounding Cooke
City on the north, the
Absaroka and Beartooth.
starts in town (right from your motel) and goes up to 10,000 feet with plenty
of hillclimbing at all elevations. All those steep mountains and plentiful snow
result in some serious avalanche danger. Be prepared and always inquire locally
about conditions before you leave town.
we already mentioned, Cooke
City is not an easy place
to get to. The town is at the dead end (at least during the winter) of Highway
212. From where the plowing stops, it’s a groomed trail up to the Top of the
World. You can continue on to Red Lodge (on the other side of 10,947-foot Beartooth Pass), but it’s a ride highly
recommended for experienced riders only. This portion of the trail is actually
but is equally as breathtaking as anything north of Cooke City.
services are available in town.