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Yellowstone Driving Guide: Mammoth Hot Springs to Cooke City

Yellowstone Entrance Fee

Best Season

Spring, Summer, Fall

Visitor Center

Mammoth Hot Springs


Mammoth, Slough Creek, Pebble Creek


Mammoth, Roosevelt Lodge, Cooke City

The Trail:

For an overview of our entire Yellowstone National Park Driving Guide visit the overview page by clicking here.

The road from Mammoth to Cooke City is my absolute favorite part of the park. It doesn’t feature any of the ultra popular features which helps keep the crowds down a bit. Its your best chance at spotting wildlife, and the mountain views are the best in the park. You will want to head East out of Mammoth Hot Springs. You will quickly cross a large bridge over the Gardner river that is cool to see. The Mammoth terraces are visible behind you.

Next you will see the small sign marking Undine Falls. This is a roadside fall but you will need to get out of the car to see it. It is 60 feet tall.

Your next stop is a very short and easy family friendly hike to Wraith Falls. Its a very wide fan fall. Probably hold off on this one in the fall since the water severely drops off. In spring its pretty cool. Info found here:

Wraith Falls Trek

Next up if you visit in summer there is a one way dirt road that is several miles called the Blacktail Plateau. This is a really pretty area and is great for seeing wildlife. Most cars can make it fine as long as the dirt is not muddy.

If you stay on the main grand loop road you will see the Hellroaring trail head which is a great little hike that takes you over the Black Canyon of the Yellowstone. Info can be found here:

Black Canyon of the Yellowstone Trek

Just after the Blacktail Plateau road rejoins the grand loop you will see the signs for Petrified Tree. There are many of these in Yellowstone but this one is fairly large and requires no walking to see.

Shortly after the tree you will arrive at the Roosevelt Lodge. You will turn left (continue East) to head towards the Northeast Entrance and Cooke City. This is in my opinion the prettiest spot in the park. You will be following the Lamar River which can be very powerful in spring. Looks for Osprey nests in this area.

As the terrain opens up you will be in Lamar Valley. This is a broad and beautiful valley with great scenery and always has animals.

It is very common to see wolves here but most of the time you can only see them with binoculars or a spotting scope as was used for this severely zoomed photo.

The road slowly starts heading north where the views of the Absaroka Mountains are amazing.

One popular spot is Soda Butte. In summer thousands of swallows make mud nests on the butte.

Next up you will see the trailhead for Trout Lake. This is a popular trail with Fishermen. Info can be found here:

Trout Lake Trek

Shortly after Trout Lake is Soda Butte Picnic area which is probably my favorite in the park and there are usually several Uinta Ground Squirrels to see.

Shortly after the picnic area you get a commanding view of Barronette Peak. This is really cool peak and very interesting geologically. If you visit in spring i counted more than 25 waterfalls coming off the snow melt.

Can you spot the Mountain Goats?

Continue on to the park entrance/exit. Just outside are the small towns of Silver Gate and Cooke City. Technically not in Yellowstone I still count them because its so close and such a gorgeous place.

There are four great waterfall hikes in these towns that can be checked out on our Yellowstone page. From Cooke City you can return the way you came or continue on to the Beartooth Highway covered separately.

Beartooth Highway Trek

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About The Author
I love adventure! I live in Cache Valley, Utah. Do you have questions on any of my Treks? Email me @ joshua.oyler@gmail.com

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