Cooke City, Mont, sits less than five miles from the northeast entrance to Yellowstone National Park. For many years this unique town, cut off from much of the world in the winter months, has been known as a mecca for snowmobilers.
With park restrictions continuing to favor guided winter snow machine outings, Cooke City has become a favorite destination for those wishing a less regulated riding experience. That means the town is often filled with the roar of snowmobile engines from the first snowfall in November or December until the snow melts and Highway 212 to the east is plowed in May.
But for the last couple of years, there has been a growing number of winter visitors to the area that engage in non-motorized travel, thanks in large part to Ben Zavora and his company, Beartooth Powder Guides.
In 2012 Ben built a cabin on private property amidst U.S. Forest Service land near Woody Creek, about 2.5 miles from Cooke City. He also obtained a permit to erect a yurt during winter months on Forest Service land near Mount Zimmer, several miles north of town.
Not only are the facilities used by back-country skiers, snow-boarders, snowshoers and hikers, but Beartooth Powder Guides also uses the two locaitons to offer a number of classes on avalanche safety and backcountry travel.
Beartooth Powder Guides held an Avalanche Level 1 course at the Woody Creek Cabin, Dec. 13 – 15. There were nine participants in the class led by instructors Ben Zavora and Clark Corey. Attendees learned avalanche basics, backcountry safety, snowpack evaluation, rescue and more.