Readers of Budget Travel Magazine nominated a record 647 towns to be considered among the Coolest Small Towns in America in 2012. The magazine has narrowed that list down to just 10 standout communities across the country. Making that list is Cooke City, Montana.
Here's what the online mag had to say about the gateway town at the Northeast Entrance to Yellowstone National Park:
The string of villages along the border of Yellowstone National Park occupy some of the best real estate in the country, with unfettered access to the waterfalls, geysers, and mountains in the country’s first national park. But Cooke City—a true lightweight in terms of numbers, with a population lower than its own area code—may actually be the reigning champ among these satellite towns. Set on the quiet northeastern corner of the park, it receives just a fraction of the tourist traffic of Yellowstone’s other, busier borders. Cooke City’s history as a mining community has given it an authentically rustic appeal: Its town’s log-based architecture is appropriate rather than contrived, and its teensy size means that everything is within easy reach. There are a dozen traditional mountain lodges, a number of which—such as the Cooke City High Country Motel—include cabins for rent. Early risers can stroll a few short blocks to Bearclaw Sales and Service for pecan rolls and biscuits with gravy at the in-house bakery, then consult with Bearclaw’s outfitter experts—or one of Cooke City’s several other outfitters and tour operators—to prepare for whatever great wilderness expedition the day might hold.
Interestingly, Budget Travel failed to note that Cooke City marks the beginning, or end, of the Beartooth Highway. The road, which takes travelers to the top of 10,947-foot Beartooth Pass, is considered by many to be one of the most beautiful drives in America.
You can read about each of the towns that made the final cut, and then vote for your favorite to become America's Coolest Small Town by clicking here. You can vote once daily until the contest ends on January 31st. As of right now, with nearly 87,000 votes cast, Cooke City ranks dead last, with Hammondsport, NY currently in the lead.
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