Cooke City has somewhat of a mythical reputation among skiers. A tiny town nestled in some of the most rugged country of Montana, with nothing but mountains, powder, and very few people for many miles in any direction. Can you even drive there in the winter? Don’t you need a snowmobile?
Legends like this are enticing and Louie had wanted to check out the little Montana town for years but never got around to it. The close proximity and endless mountains of British Columbia seem to have a stronger pull on both of us. However, this year, the Covid Canadian border restrictions redirected our attention stateside. The decision was made to venture to Cooke City, so we loaded up the sleds and the skis for some Christmas time adventure.
It turns out you can drive there, although the plowed road ends at the end of town and from there the mountains are only accessible via foot or two-stroke. Watch out for the bison on your way through Yellowstone National Park, and expect possible major delays due to wildlife traffic.
I can’t really take any credit for making the trip happen. Our friends Lee and Jenny really instigated the idea and organized the food and lodging. We ended up staying at a rustic collection of cabins called the Big Moose resort, which I’m sure is quite busy with Yellowstone tourists in the summer. In the winter it’s a different story. Requiring a four mile snowmobile ride to get to the front door, and correspondingly far from the relative bustle of Cooke City, we essentially had the place to ourselves.
Our biggest interaction outside of our group was with the resident husky puppy, appropriately named Little Moose. A perfect Covid-safe ski trip.
Cooke City is certainly known to skiers, but it’s an even bigger destination for snowmobilers. There’s tons of skiing that doesn’t require a sled, but we wanted to take full advantage of such a unique locale, and accordingly used our sleds for access. It really is incredible how many mountains you can explore in a week with a snowmobile and a pair of skis.
We spent seven days in the area and even that didn’t seem like enough. Excited to hopefully get a chance to come back and explore more of the area in the future!
WildSnow Girl, Julia Dubinina, is a weekend warrior chasing snow in winter and sun in summer. A lover of long tours and steep skin tracks, she explores the Pacific Northwest and beyond. When she is not out adventuring, she is working away at her corporate desk job for a software company to make her next adventure happen.