Lamar Valley, Yellowstone Park

Lamar Valley, Yellowstone Park

Bruce Richards | Sunday, 12 April 2015

Although fishing season doesn't open in Yellowstone Park until June, now is a great time to explore the park. Well, the parts that aren't still covered with feet of snow....

        Most roads in the park are still snow covered and closed, but one road stays open all winter. It is the road that goes to the small town of Cooke City, just outside the NE corner of the park. That road stays open because it is the only road the few residents of Cooke City have in the winter to connect them with the rest of the world. It is 52 miles from Cooke City to the next small town, Gardiner (not much there), then another 50 miles to the next town, Livingston, which is also very small. You need to be dedicated, well prepared and a bit weird to live in Cooke City in the winter!

But I'm glad those folks are there because they are the only reason the road through the Lamar Valley is kept open in the winter and the Lamar Valley is one of the most interesting and beautiful parts of the park. Many of the parks animals abandon the snowy high country in the winter and settle in the valley where living is relatively easy. A great place to see widlife in the winter. There are literally thousands of bison, elk, deer, antelope, big horn sheep, and others, in the valley in the winter. Of course, that concentration of game attracts carnivores, the valley is one of the best places to see a grizzly bear, or wolves.

The Lamar River is also there, a great cutthroat river. Although there is no fishing to be done now, walking the extensive gravel banks is always fun. They are littered with beautiful agates and petrified wood, which must be left there, so they are still there! Exploring the Lamar is always a treat, and in the winter you can do it without competition from the tourists that flock there in the summer. Of course, most of them won't walk more than a couple hundred meters from their cars, so people like us can have much of the park to ourselves, even in the summer!

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