I like to spend at least some of the time I'm in the greater Yellowstone area in a locale with quick access to Lamar Valley, where the wildlife watching is great year-round. One option is Roosevelt Lodge, within Yellowstone but their season opens after the first week in June (and closes at the end of August). Since I was there too early this year, the next best bet was Silver Gate or Cooke City, two tiny towns just outside of Yellowstone's northeast entrance. I settled on Big Moose Resort just to the east of Cooke City (thanks to good Trip Advisor reviews) and I really enjoyed my stay there. I approached from the wonderfully scenic Chief Joseph Highway, which joins the western end of the Beartooth Highway; Big Moose is very easy to find, with a big, distinctive sign. The owners, Bev and Todd, are welcoming and friendly. My cabin was #5, just across the drive from the main house/office. It was very roomy, furnished with two queen beds, two ceiling fans, an armoire for the TV and space for my things, a little fridge, microwave, coffee maker, and a little table and a couple of chairs. BYO hair dryer, soap and little shampoo packets are provided. There is no closet but there is a short pole and a few hangers.
The Direct TV has plenty of channels. There is no phone in the room and no cell signal up there in the mountains. (I imagine if you really had to make a phone call the hosts would arrange use of an office phone.) I didn't ask about the use of a computer/internet.
I've never stayed anywhere that had better, brighter lighting, in the bathroom too (much appreciated!). The cabin had perfectly effective baseboard heating (definitely necessary at night, even in late May, at that altitude) as well as a cheery gas fireplace that very quickly warmed the entire cabin. The bathroom was nicely renovated, though the water heater went out a couple of times. Each time Todd promptly remedied the problem (a circuit breaker) and plenty of hot water was soon forthcoming (I suspect the source of the problem will be fixed and that future guests won't have to worry about it.) Without my having even thought of it, much less asked, Bev put through a credit on my bill to make up for the inconvenience of the uncooperative water heater. Such an appropriate gesture reflects extremely well on their business.
The only negative about the accommodation was that it did need a dose of housekeeping, a few squirts of 409 would take care of the grubby hand prints on the inside of the front door and a quick rag would help with a little accumulation of dust here and there. It was not nearly bad enough to be creepy but it was noticeable. The main problem was that the front step/landing was not swept (I would have been happy to do it myself had there been a broom in the cabin) and up there, nestled between national forest and national park, there's lots of dust and mud to be tracked in.
The cabin is half of a duplex; when there are guests in the other cabin, sound travels right through the wall. In reality, that's true almost everywhere, including in all the cabins and hotels within Yellowstone.
There's no restaurant that you can walk to (unless you want to walk 3 miles west along the highway to the center of Cooke City), but Bev referred me to a little breakfast place nestled under the Super 8 in Cooke City called The Bakery, and was it ever wonderful. First of all, she opens at something like 5:30 in the morning, which means you can get coffee (and truly first rate coffee at that) and go on your way to Yellowstone for dawn wildlife-watching (dawn and dusk are the best times to see wolves, bears, and all the rest). The owner bakes her own fabulous breakfast pastries, and also makes eggs, bacon and that kind of fare to order. I had her make me an egg croisantwich to take with my latte into the park and it was great, very reasonably priced.
There are a couple of good dinner places in the area. Try the Beartooth Cafe in Cooke City, and definitely the wonderful Log Cabin Cafe in Silver Gate, for excellent meals. In my opinion, Buns-n-Beds and the Soda Butte Lodge, two other eateries, are not as nearly good.
The whole experience of staying at Big Moose Resort reminded me of nothing so much as summer camp when I was a kid. That was a very happy time for me, and I will be just as happy to return to Big Moose next time (which might be in the winter, bound to be another great experience!)
- Also Known As:
- Big Moose Hotel Cooke City
- Big Moose Hotel
- Big Moose Resort Cooke City, Montana