Custer Gallatin: Star Lake and Lulu Pass

February 11, 2024  •  Leave a Comment

Some friends from Florida visited this past weekend and I finally checked off a to-do that been on my list for a long time. Snowmobile up into the Beartooth Mountains. We headed out to Cooke City early morning and saw the typical winter sights: bison, moose, and a few deer and elk. We arrived in Cooke City suited up, and headed up the Lulu Pass Trail. Unfortunately, this winter has been the warmest and driest in decades, so the snowpack was extremely low at lower elevations. That meant that we needed to stop often and cool the sleds. Eventually we made it to Mud Lake where there was deeper snow and it was pretty much game on for the remainder of the day. 20240202-jwf-069620240202-jwf-0696NPS / Jacob W. Frank 20240202-jwf-073820240202-jwf-0738NPS / Jacob W. Frank 20240202-jwf-074620240202-jwf-0746NPS / Jacob W. Frank

From Mud Lake we continued up to Round Lake, which has great views of Sheep Mountain. We took the opportunity to finally open up the throttle a bit, to see what these new sleds can do. They are REAL fast.

20240202-jwf-076920240202-jwf-0769NPS / Jacob W. Frank 20240202-jwf-077720240202-jwf-0777NPS / Jacob W. Frank

Once we got a feel for the sleds our guide, Cole, took us up the Goose Lake Jeep Trail where we had some great views of the Spires, the same mountain we saw this past summer backpacking to Aero Lakes.

20240202-jwf-087920240202-jwf-0879NPS / Jacob W. Frank 20240202-jwf-088920240202-jwf-0889NPS / Jacob W. Frank

Eventually we made it to Long Lake, which had some smaller hills we were able to climb.

20240202-jwf-089420240202-jwf-0894NPS / Jacob W. Frank

I told Cole I'd be happy to take some photos of him if we wanted to tear it up. So he did.

20240202-jwf-090620240202-jwf-0906NPS / Jacob W. Frank 20240202-jwf-091920240202-jwf-0919NPS / Jacob W. Frank 20240202-jwf-092320240202-jwf-0923NPS / Jacob W. Frank 20240202-jwf-0937-Edit20240202-jwf-0937-EditNPS / Jacob W. Frank 20240202-jwf-095220240202-jwf-0952NPS / Jacob W. Frank 20240202-jwf-095620240202-jwf-0956NPS / Jacob W. Frank 20240202-jwf-096120240202-jwf-0961NPS / Jacob W. Frank 20240202-jwf-097920240202-jwf-0979NPS / Jacob W. Frank 20240202-jwf-100320240202-jwf-1003NPS / Jacob W. Frank

The views weren't too shabby either.

20240202-jwf-094220240202-jwf-0942NPS / Jacob W. Frank 20240202-jwf-094320240202-jwf-0943NPS / Jacob W. Frank 20240202-jwf-101120240202-jwf-1011NPS / Jacob W. Frank

From there we headed up to Star Lake at the edge of the Wilderness Boundary where we were able to get in some first tracks.

20240202-jwf-101820240202-jwf-1018NPS / Jacob W. Frank 20240202-jwf-102620240202-jwf-1026NPS / Jacob W. Frank 20240202-jwf-103720240202-jwf-1037NPS / Jacob W. Frank 20240202-jwf-104620240202-jwf-1046NPS / Jacob W. Frank 20240202-jwf-105320240202-jwf-1053NPS / Jacob W. Frank

Even though snow levels were significantly lower than normal, we were still able to explore a lot of the terrain up there no issues.

20240202-jwf-107520240202-jwf-1075NPS / Jacob W. Frank 20240202-jwf-111020240202-jwf-1110NPS / Jacob W. Frank 20240202-jwf-1155-Edit20240202-jwf-1155-EditNPS / Jacob W. Frank

After everyone getting stuck multiple times, wallowing in powder, and digging ourselves out, we figured it was time to head back to town. Instead of backtracking, we headed northwest from Long Lake around Sheep Mountain to hook up with the Lulu Pass Trail again. The views along the backside of Sheep Mountain were expansive.

20240202-jwf-116020240202-jwf-1160NPS / Jacob W. Frank 20240202-jwf-116520240202-jwf-1165NPS / Jacob W. Frank
Once we made it to Lulu Pass it was smooth sailing the rest of the way home. Back in town we hit up the Miners Saloon for a celebratory pint before we headed back home.

20240202-jwf-117920240202-jwf-1179NPS / Jacob W. Frank

Trip notes: It's not cheap to rent sleds and hire a guide. Especially when you compare it to backpacking. But it was worth it. You work a lot harder than you'd think, especially if you're a new rider. Even if you don't fall, which you most likely will, you have to jump around on the sled and really use your body to stay upright. When you do fall, you're trying to dig your sled out in waist-deep powder for at least a few minutes, sometimes longer. We rented through Beartooth Mountain Adventures and I'd definitely recommend them. Our guide Cole was great and was worth his weight in gold. Not only did he take us where we needed to go, but we'd still be stuck up there without him. Definitely a team sport.

20240202-jwf-0829-Edit20240202-jwf-0829-EditNPS / Jacob W. Frank Screenshot 2024-02-11 at 1.06.51 PMScreenshot 2024-02-11 at 1.06.51 PM Screenshot 2024-02-11 at 1.06.40 PMScreenshot 2024-02-11 at 1.06.40 PM


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