Cooke Lake Recreation Area, Wyoming

 


  

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A cattle drive on the way to Cooke Lake.

Hiyo, Silver. Head 'em up. Move 'em out. Yippee ki yo ki yay. I've always wanted to say that.

It was our quest for the Cooke Lake/ Cliff Swallow Trail geocache that brought us to the beautiful Cooke Lake Recreation Area. It was one of those warm September days with vivid blue sky that saw us driving down a dirt road for about 20 miles to reach the lake. Along the way as we passed rolling hills and cattle ranches, we came upon a real live cattle drive. There were three genuine cowboys on horseback with about 30 head of cattle. For us Baby Boomers who grew up with the TV series Rawhide, this was the real deal. After one of the cowboys cleared a trail for us we slowly drove through the cattle and continued on to the lake. We were glad we had  our GPS, Delorme Street Atlas and a Wyoming Gazetteer as it would have been easy to get lost in this remote country. 

 

Cooke Lake

Cooke Lake

 

 

 

Cooke Lake  sits at about 4400 feet amid a pine forest in the Wyoming Black Hills on the way to Devil's Tower National Monument. There are campgrounds on the lake with about 34 campsites as well as some cabins nearby to rent. There were some picnic tables scattered along the lake so we stopped for a nice lunch in the shade of the trees. The only other people we saw were state forestry workers inspecting the grounds.  We chatted with them and they took the famous picture which appears on the home page and last year's Christmas card.

 

 

 

On the way to the Cooke Lake/Cliff SwallowTrail geocache.

On the way to the Cooke Lake geocache.

 

The cache route took us along the stream that ran out of the north end of the lake for a round trip hike of about three miles. The sights and sounds of autumn in the wilderness were everywhere.  The scenery was breath taking - cloudless blue sky, green pines, fall foliage, wind in the trees and water gurgling over rocks. Everywhere we looked was another Kodak moment. We stayed longer than we planned just taking it in. That's what makes this one of our most favorite places to visit and geocache. Cooke Lake, a little paradise off the beaten path in Wyoming and #8 in our Top 10 Traditional Caches.

Talk about your Off the Beaten Path, this is it. If you go, be aware - this is thick, mountainous, heavily wooded wilderness with dirt roads everywhere, no landmarks, almost no people and very few road signs. Cell phone coverage is nil. What it does have is several challenging geocaches. We had them on our list but never got to them because we couldn't find good routes and ran out of time.  Once you get into it and start roaming around, you could drive around for hours looking for a way out. Even if you know where you're going, getting from Point A to Point B takes a long time. Expect to run into cattle, unimproved roads and logging trucks along the way.   Make sure you have a map and GPS and stay oriented.  Better yet, a laptop computer with a good GPS-based atlas program. We've used  Delorme Street Atlas for several years now and it was very reliable here.  We finally had to move on to Devil's Tower and resolved to come back. It won't be for some time though.  As we write this at the end of March, they just got hammered with almost four feet of snow.

There is now a second geocache here -  VM2009.

The GPS coordinates to the Cooke Lake entrance are  44.589360, -104.404429.  Click on the coordinates for an interactive Google map.

Yippee ki yo ki yay....The Cachemanian Devils