• sign in
  • |
  • sign up
  • |
  • my miniguide
  • |
  • write a review
Cooke City - Silver Gate, Montana
Fast Facts
+1 (406) 838 2495
X-Country Skiing
Kid-Friendly Hotels
Points of Interest Nearby
Family Travel Tips

Yellowstone Trading Post, Cooke City, Montana


Photo by Alfredo De Simone

Cooke City and Silver Gate may be one-street towns but they are famous for their abundant snowfall, fishing holes, extreme terrain, and wildlife sightings. The towns are bordered by the Gallatin and Custer national forests. They sit at the western end of the Beartooth Highways, a national scenic byway. They are ideal base camps for exploring the Absarorka-Beartooth Wilderness Area and Yellowstone National Park. The area boasts 60 miles of groomed snowmobile trails as well as and nearly endless opportunities for off-trail sledding. Its fishable waters include rivers, streams and mountain lakes. The remote backcountry can be explored on foot, mountain bike, horseback, ATV, snowshoes and x-country skis. Walking trails range from forested strolls to multi-day treks. Bear, moose, elk and deer are often spotted in the vicinity and the twin towns offer easy access to Lamar Valley, one of the best places to watch wildlife in Yellowstone. What’s more, they receive just a fraction of the tourist traffic of Yellowstone's other gateways.
Getting There
Cooke City and Silver Gate lie three miles from one another and sit just outside the Northeast Entrance to Yellowstone National Park. The twin towns are situated in south central Montana and are located on the stretch of US Highway 212 known as the Beartooth Scenic Byway. In winter, the only road access is via Yellowstone National Park. (Snowmobile access is available from the Pilot Creek parking lot on the Chief Joseph Scenic Highway or WY 296). The closest airports are found in Cody, Wyoming as well as Billings and Bozeman, Montana. Car rentals are available at all three. There is no bus or train service to this part of Montana.
Getting Around
The Absarorka-Beartooth Wilderness Area boasts thousands of miles of trails and numerous backcountry campgrounds. Trails range in length and difficulty and offer access to the Gallatin and Custer national forests. Several trails depart from town and you can x-country ski and snowshoe right from the door. Trail openings are dependent on bear activity and weather conditions. Family Travel Tips: Bring a compass and good trail map showing roads, trails, streams, lakes, peaks and backcountry campgrounds. Pick up a list of trails and get current trail conditions at the Visitor Center. Off highway vehicle trails are shared with hikers, horses, and mountain bikers. A backcountry use permit is required for all overnight camping in Yellowstone National Park.
When to Travel
The climate is Alpine. Summers are short and cool. Winters are long, cold and snowy. Fall and spring are fleeting. The average daytime temperature varies from 24°F (-4°C) in January to 74°F (23°C) in July. Cooke City and Silver Gate sit at an elevation of over 7,000 feet thus nights cool quickly. The wettest months are May and June. Snowfall is possible any day of the year, it covers the ground for seven months a year, and the towns receive more than 500 inches of snow per year.
Health & Safety
Altitude sickness, dehydration, hypothermia and wildlife encounters are the main health risks for backcountry explorers. Carry plenty of water and encourage children to drink regularly. Don’t drink water from lakes, rivers or streams unless it’s been boiled or filtered. Select activities that are commensurate with the age and ability of the kids and give your body a chance to acclimate before you play hard. Be prepared for all kinds of weather. Dress in layers, pack jackets or fleece, and bring raingear. Carry a warm hat, insect repellent, bear spray, sunscreen, and first aid kit. Hike early in the day to avoid afternoon thunderstorms. Maintain a safe distance from all wildlife, 100 yards (91m) from bears and wolves and 25 yards (23m) from all other animals. Be bear aware; have your bear spray handy, make lots of noise, and store food and discard debris in apposite bear safe containers.
Things to Keep in Mind
Silver Gate Park has a seesaw, swing set, and monkey bars. Children should always be supervised in this wilderness environment. Know where you’re casting a line; a separate license is needed to fish in Montana, Wyoming, and Yellowstone National Park.
Free Travel Journal
Get a free kids travel journal to document your family vacation.
Download PDF
Travel Trivia
The age of the Saguaro Cactus is determined by: