Cooke City is one of the entrances to
Yellowstone National Park
. It was named for Jay Cooke, Jr., who was interested in mining claims in the district. Cooke City began as a prospect hole in the early 1870s. Weathered cabins with moss-covered roofs can still be found. Before the railroads came in, Cooke City was the receiving point for goods shipped by boat up the Missouri and Yellowstone rivers and then forwarded by stage and pack train over the winding trail through Red Lodge. Here, Buffalo Bill's Indian trade goods were shipped to Cody, Wyoming. In 1877, Chief Joseph and his retreating Nez Perces swept through Cooke City and burned the gold mills. New ones were built but the ore was too poor in grade to be mined commercially, and the miners left for richer fields. (from Cheney's
Names on the Face of Montana
, Mountain Press Publishing Company) The town still has a rustic Old West atmosphere, which can be traced to these mining roots. Cooke City is an alpine village with snow much of the year. It is perhaps most famous for the road that connects Cooke City with Red Lodge. Called "the most scenic drive in America", the
on U.S. Highway 212 has dramatic switchbacks traversing the spectacular Beartooth Range of south-central Montana. The Beartooth Pass is open only in summer months (approximately June-October); however, the town is accessible year-round by way of the Mammoth Hot Springs entrance at Yellowstone Park (US Highway 89). Today, surrounded by national forest, wilderness and Yellowstone National Park, the area is an outdoor recreationist's dream. Winter season brings the best in snowmobiling and cross-country skiing on both groomed and ungroomed trails. During the summer, fishing is fantastic on nearby lakes, rivers, or streams. Opportunities for horseback riding, hiking, fishing, camping, and photography abound, and impressive mountain peaks and lush valleys adorn the Cooke City area.