Winter Activities near Cooke City

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Enjoy More than Snowmobiling in Cooke City

While Cooke City may be best known as a snowmobiling mecca, it's also a great place to enjoy other winter activities. For one thing, our area has some of the best backcountry skiing opportunities you'll find anywhere. There are also plenty of groomed and ungroomed trails for cross-country skiing. Most of those trails are available for snowshoeing, as well. (Just remember to stay off the tracks set by cross-country skiers.) Ice climbing is another popular winter activity in our area, especially around Yellowstone's Northeast Entrance. We've listed a few of the details about these activities, below. Oh, and if you're looking for information about snowmobiling, check out our articles on local snowmobile trails and snowmobiling resources. Or, give us a call. We'll be glad to help.

Cross Country Skiing and Snowshoeing

Cooke City and nearby areas have plenty of opportunities for cross-country skiing adventures on nearby trails.

The Bannock Ski Trail is a 4.8 mile trail that starts around Silver Gate and runs into Yellowstone, near the Northeast Entrance. This well-marked trail runs along Warm Creek for a while and through snow-covered forests and open meadows. Expect to see a variety of wildlife, including moose, mule deer, and bison.

Barronette Ski Trail is another great cross-country trail that starts near Cooke City. The trail is actually a section of Old Cooke City road. It's not typically groomed, but is still considered a relatively easy trail for cross-country skiing. Along the trail, you'll have views of Barronette Peak and Abiathar Peak, as well as frozen waterfalls and an occasional mountain goat.

If you're interested, Beartooth Powder Guides offers guided cross-country skiing and snowshoeing tours of Yellowstone National Park near the park's Northeast Entrance. Give them a call for more information about their custom tours.

Backcountry Skiing

It's no secret that Cooke City gets the most snow out of any region in southwest Montana. Storms sweep through the Snake River Basin and are channeled towards Cooke City. These frequent storms and the surrounding cold, high peaks result in abundant, low-density, snow and excellent backcountry skiing conditions. Some of the best areas for backcountry skiing are just a short distance from Cooke City, and a couple of nearby ungroomed ski trails provide you with easy access to the surrounding backcountry.

Republic Creek Ski trail starts near Cooke City and ends in the Republic Creek area. This ungroomed trail runs through a heavily forested valley between Republic Mountain and Woody Ridge, and Republic Pass is around 1,900 feet above the valley.

Sheep Creek Ski Trail is another ungroomed trail that begins near Cooke City and will get you into the backcountry. The trail runs through Sheep Basin to Miller Loop snowmobile trail.

If you're new to the area, getting to the backcountry can be difficult, and avalanche danger is always a consideration. You might consider hiring an experienced guide. We recommend Beartooth Powder Guides. They offer day trip powder tours into the backcountry around Republic Creek and Sheep Creek. They also have longer tours (high alpine tours) near Goose Lake, Areo Lake, and Mount Zimmer Lake.

Ice Climbing

You'll find a number of ice-climbing locations near Cooke City and Silver Gate. Many routes in the area are unpublished, but a number of routes are well-established and easy to find. (There are about 10 established ice-climbing routes relatively close to Cooke City.)

Hydromonster, located in Yellowstone on Abiathar Peak, is a well-known route. This 200-foot waterfall is rated WI4, with fairly long sections of 90-degree ice. It's 280 feet high, with two pitches.

Another well-known route is Dancing with the Hippo, one of three established routes on Barronette Peak. This 100-foot climb is rated WI5. Look for it just to the left of the base of Barronette Falls. Note that this route, like all routes on Barronette Peak, is very exposed to avalanches.

Silver Creek Falls is a 130-foot climb just northwest of Silver Gate. It's rated WI4. The climb does have a long approach. It usually takes about 30 minutes or more to reach it. You'll need snowshoes or cross-country skis to get there. Like all these climbs, make sure you check current avalanche conditions before heading out.

For guide services related to ice climbing in the Cooke City area, contact Montana Alpine Guides

Guide Services

You might have noticed that we've referred to Beartooth Powder Guides (BPG) throughout this article. That's no accident. The folks at BPG are extremely knowledgeable about winter activities in Cooke City, Silver Gate, and Northeast Yellowstone. And the services they offer–exploring Yellowstone, backcountry ski trips, avalanche education, and more–are the best you'll find...anywhere. We highly recommend them.

If you're interested in ice climbing and considering using a guide, check with Montana Alpine Guides (MAG). While they are based in Bozeman, they are experienced climbers who are very familiar with the Cooke City area.