The Montana
Rocky Top Cabin
in Yellowstone Country

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Vacation Tips

Wildlife Watching on the Northern Range

You are going to be visiting the best area of Yellowstone for wildlife watching!  The Northern Range of Yellowstone and the Beartooth Mountains are famous for abundant wildlife.  Even from the cabin's front porch, guests have watched moose, deer, elk, marmot, bear and fox, to name a few!  One of the best places to wildlife watch in Yellowstone is just 20 minutes from the cabin -- the Lamar Valley.

Here are some valuable tips for THINGS TO DO AND THINGS TO BRING:

Before your trip, read local professional wildlife photographer Dan Hartman's field notesWildlife Along The Rockies  He provides details of his sightings in the area and in the Park.  More field sightings from the instructors at the Yellowstone Institute can also be found online -- click the banner below.

Stop and scan the cliffs at Baronette Peak on your right shortly after you enter the NE Gate to the Park.  Sheep are usually visible and best seen with your binoculars or spotting scope, and this is the case as you travel into the Park to look for wolves, fox, anything you want to see and see well.

Rent a spotting scope if you don't have one. The folks at the SilverGate General Store (in front of Pine Edge Cabins) are Swarovsky dealers.  They have a limited number that they will rent out for just $20 per day -- that's a good deal for one of the best scopes you can buy!  Rent a Spotting Scope

Consider investing in a good pair of binoculars or a spotting scope.  We patron Eagle Optics online to fill our needs.  They have a wonderful online buying guide to help you choose.

Join a wildlife biologist for the best wildlife watching: The Yellowstone Institute. We have taken many classes at the Buffalo Ranch in the Lamar Valley including fly fishing, tracking, wolf watching, "Winter on a Sliver," and "Dayhiking Yellostone!"  The biologists and course leaders will teach you so much, and you will have the best chances of seeing the most variety of wildlife.

Take a hike!  To commune with wildlife, sometimes you have to get out of the car and go where they go! There are several trails near the cabin to Lady of the Lake and Kersey Lake/Rock Island.  The trailbooks in the cabin library will help you identify a trail at your level.  In Springtime (until around 4th of July weekend), be prepared for wet feet, and don't try to cross a stream that's too swollen!

Try free trial and obtain details and maps of hiking trails all over the country.  It's a great tool for planning any hike.  We have authored our own amateur fishing and hiking guide, which we send to our guests prior to arrival.  There are also many books in the cabin's library you might enjoy.

A word about Hydration:  Drink Water. If you have never traveled to elevations above 5,000 feet, consider reading up on elevation or altitude sickness so you will know the signs and know what to do!  We do not leave the cabin to hike two minutes without our Camelbak or canteen.

Pests, like mosquitos mostly, are pesky in early summer usually so bring your preference on repellent.  We use Everglades mosquito repellent with DEET!  But if you prefer more natural ingredients, try Crocodile! brand herbal insect repellent.

Bearspray is a good idea on any trail in or outside of the Park read the directions on the can, take a practice but heed the direction of the breeze.  Needless to say more.  Sold at most Yellowstone stores.

Rent an ATV to reach those areas beyond your hiking abilities.  Driving an ATV is easy!  There are places in Cooke City to rent ATVs for the day.  Then, take one of the old mining roads like Goose Lake Jeep Trail to access the backcountry where you will find serenity (once you kill the motor), great wildlife watching, wildflower-packed meadows, lakes and streams, and remnants of old mines.  Explore with caution and be alert.


Sample Itinerary:

A Seven Day Tour of Yellowstone Country

Here is a sample itinerary for couples and families that want to get in all the sights in a short time.  We often tell folks, "Be prepared to fall in love with Yellowstone Country."  You will want to return year after year to explore your favorite parts, but in our opinion, this is a good way to get started without spending all your time in the car!

Day 1 Lamar Valley / Tower Falls / Roosevelt Lodge -- An early morning visit to the Lamar Valley will reward you with great wildlife watching; Visit Tower Falls at the north end of the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone; Join a trail ride on horseback or a stagecoach ride at Roosevelt then fill up at the Old West Chuckwagon Dinner cookout.

Day 2 Mammoth Hot Springs/ Swan Lake Flat / Obsidian Cliff/ Gardner -- Visit the park's  Northern Range and watch for resident elk and pronghorn!  Historic Mammoth Hot Springs is home to Fort Yellowstone, and offers a self-guided tour of the travertine terraces and hot pools. The five mile round trip hike to Beaver Ponds is beautiful-- ask a ranger to point out the trailhead!  Look for trumpeter swan on Swan Lake Flat.  On the way to Obsidian Cliff, moose are sometimes visible.  Venture into Gardner for lunch or dinner and a little shopping.  End the day with a soak at the Boiling River/Gardner River Hot Pool -- "not your average swimming hole" its Yellowstone National Parks most popular soaking area located between Gardner and Mammoth.

Day 3 Cooke City/ Beartooth Scenic Byway/Top of the World -- Try a morning hike or rent an ATV and set out on the trails around Cooke City.  Later, take an afternoon drive to the Top of the World!  Not far from the cabin is an overlook like none other at 10,000 feet on the Beartooth Pass -- a high alpine tundra with hundreds of lakes.  Take a short hike or try your luck fishing for awhile along the way back.  Then back in Cooke City, relax by shopping and having dinner.

Day 4 Fishing and Hiking in Yellowstone

Day 5 Cody /Historic Chief Joseph Scenic Byway -- The historic saga of Chief Joseph can be discussed as you travel the scenic highway into Wyoming for a visit to Cody, Cowboy Country!  A rafting or float trip would cool you off on a summer afternoon there!  And the rodeo is a lot of fun.  Plan on a 1-1/2 hour drive back to the cabin before sundown though because deer and cattle share the road!

Day 6 Old Faithful/Yellowstone Lake/Hayden Valley A loop around the heart of Yellowstone, with stops along the way to view amazing geothermal grounds and sweeping valleys filled with wildlife, is a day-long trip so plan six hours with a lot of stops for photography and gawking. 

Day 7 Fishing and Hiking in the Beartooths -- Relax at the cabin and leisurely explore the Gallatin National Forest from the back door!  Or lace up your hiking boots and set off for a picnic at Lady of the Lake, a short walk in the northwest direction out the cabin's back door -- it's about 3 miles roundtrip through meadows leading to a serene clear alpine lake.

Reservations 863-840-0335 (EST)