5 miles from the northeast entrance to Yellowstone National Park.
Rough-and-tumble Cooke City sprang up in the 1880s, when prospectors struck gold, but the mining heyday is long gone. Nowadays, the remote, tiny town (only 100 year-round residents) is all about outdoor recreation, surrounded by Yellowstone and the Custer, Gallatin, and Shoshone National Forests. Hiking, fishing, and paddling opportunities abound, and snowmobiling is huge in winter. If you’re planning to cruise the ultrascenic Beartooth Highway, Cooke City offers the only services until Red Lodge, 68 twisty miles away.
The Colter Pass/Cooke City/Silver Gate Chamber of Commerce (406/838-2495; www.cookecitychamber.org) operates a visitor center at 206 W. Main St. that is open daily in summer.
Cooke City and its even smaller neighbor, Silver Gate, offer the best lodging deals of any gateway town: You can snap up a midsummer room for $100 or less. The cabins and cozy lodge rooms at Elk Horn Lodge, 103 Main St. (406/838-2332; www.elkhornlodgemt.com), are traveler favorites and go for $140 to $160, some with a 3-night minimum. High Country Motel & Cabins, 113 W. Main St. (406/838-2272; www.highcountrymotelandcabins.com), is known for friendly service and a hot tub; cabin and motel rooms range from $120 to $135. The charming cabins at Big Moose Resort, just east of town at 715 U.S. 212 (406/838-2393; www.bigmooseresort.com), are a similarly great deal at $100 to $150. There are also a few private rental homes and cabins; check with the Chamber of Commerce for details.
Dining picking are slim, but tasty. Main Street’s Beartooth Café (406/838-2475; www.beartoothcafe.com) has the best burgers and steaks, plus killer from-scratch desserts. Also on Main St., try Loving Cup Café (406/838-2412) for espresso, sammies, and tacos.
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.