When coming to Cooke City, you can’t help but be blown away by the drive.
Many folks come via the Beartooth Highway from the 1880s coal mining town of Red Lodge. Many say it is the most scenic drive in America. It is a National Scenic Byway as well as an All American Road. It is generally open only from late May until late October at the latest as it is buried in nearly 30 feet of snow each winter. The wonderfully scenic 68-mile drive to Cooke City climbs 5,200 feet in 30 miles to Beartooth Pass at 10,947 feet. You will be wowed by incredible vistas, pristine lakes, bubbling brooks, endless meadows of alpine wildflowers and mountain goats along rocky ledges.
If you’re coming from Cody, Wyoming, you will travel the Chief Joseph Scenic Byway. Wyoming 296 links the town of Cody with the Beartooth Highway and Cooke City. The Chief Joseph Scenic Byway is a paved highway that is open year-round and is more than just a scenic drive. The road closely follows the path taken by the Nez Perce as they fled the U.S. Cavalry in 1877. Several historical and interpretative signs along the road provide more information about the flight of the Nez Perce. Highlights of the Chief Joseph Scenic Byway include excellent views of the North Absaroka Mountains, more distant views of the Beartooth Mountains and Beartooth Plateau, and Clarks Fork of the Yellowstone River.
Of course, Yellowstone is packed with breathtaking vistas. Here are some of the most important vistas:
The Lamar Valley: Known as the “Little Serengeti of North America”, this spectacular drive is less than five miles from the Cooke City and features the most plentiful wildfire viewing opportunities in the park. The glacially carved valley features elk, bison, osprey, bald eagles, antelope, moose, black bears, and grizzlies, as well as bears and wolves. Early morning and late evening are the times of day where you’re most likely to have the best luck.
Yellowstone River: The Yellowstone River is the force that created the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone and the falls. It begins on the slopes of Yount Peak, south of the park, and travels more than 600 miles to its terminus in North Dakota where it empties into the Missouri River. It is the longest undammed river in the continental United States. You can find spectacular views at the other end of the Lamar Valley.
Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone: Downstream on the Yellowstone River, Yellowstone’s 24-mile-long and thousand-foot-deep Grand Canyon is every bit as breathtaking as the one in Arizona (for reasons all its own), offering a supreme vantage point of several Yellowstone landmarks including the Upper and Lower Falls, Artist Point, Point Sublime, and Silver Cord Cascade. Both rims of the canyon offer spectacular views, but the north side is the most popular. On the south rim of the Grand Canyon, Artists’ Point commands a 700-foot vista down to the river.
All of these vistas are easy day drives from the hotel!
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