Closest entrances and distances: 23 miles from the Gardiner (north) entrance; 29 miles from the Cooke City (northeast) entrance.
Frontiersy Tower-Roosevelt is the most relaxed of the major park junctions—a far cry from the hordes that sometimes descend on Old Faithful or the Canyon area. The 26th president really did camp in the area in 1903, and much of the spirit of Teddy Roosevelt’s Old West remains here. Roosevelt Lodge, a rustic log building dating back the 1920s, houses a BBQ restaurant and bar, plus a check-in desk for the clutch of simple log cabins scattered nearby (see “Where to Stay and Eat in Yellowstone,” in chapter 7, for details). A concessionaire-run corral also offers trail rides, stagecoach rides, and a mighty fun cookout accessed on horseback or wagon.
Just east of the junction, the Yellowstone River Picnic Area is worth a quick stop to see if the bighorn sheep that frequent the cliffs in this area are out. Continue along the Northeast Entrance Road 4.5 miles past the Tower junction to reach the unmarked trailhead to Specimen Ridge. A short (3 miles round-trip) but very steep hike up this hillside leads to a fossilized forest—the largest concentration of petrified trees in the world, in fact. You can still pick out the rings on many of these 50-million-year-old trees, which were buried and subsequently fossilized by a series of volcanic eruptions.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.