The area surrounding Cody, Wyoming is home to a sweeping span of breathtaking mountain peaks. Whether looking up from the bottom or looking down from the top of these summits, here are a few of the vistas you won’t want to miss this summer … and because you’ll need some refreshment on your journey, we also chose some crisp Wyoming brews worth carrying on your trek to celebrate these epic mountain views.
Peak: Heart Mountain
Elevation: 8,123 ft
Better to climb or to admire from afar: Try the climb
“If you’re reasonably fit, you can do this hike,” said Bruce Larsen of Sunlight.
“The unique shape of this mountain is what defines it,” said Kenny Gasch of Jackson Hole Mountain Guides Cody area branch. “When you start out on this thing, you’re in a high desert environment, then you work your way up and hit the tree line, and up by the kiosk it almost gets riparian – it’s so diverse. You go through these different layers in the 2,500 feet you go up, passing from one climate to another. It’s a very unique mountain in that the shape is very recognizable from anywhere, and it changes whichever direction you’re looking at it from. The view from the top is spectacular: For 360 degrees, you look out onto the Bighorns, the desert, and you can see up into the Beartooths and Pilot and Index peaks, too.”
Worth Carrying: WyOld West Honey Rye Ale
Location: Brewed in Powell, Wyoming. This brewery rests right in the heart of Powell, which lies in the shadow Heart Mountain. Powell’s position allows its residents one of the most iconic, distinctive views of Heart Mountain’s shape.
Description: “We make this beer with Buckaroo honey, which is a local Wyoming honey produced right here in Powell,” said WyOld Bar Manager Melissa James. “It’s a nice clean finish beer, and a really refreshing summer ale. It packs a lot of flavor for the good beer connoisseurs out there.”
What better way to honor the views of or from Heart Mountain than to cheers some beers brewed with sweet honey made right in her surrounding foothills and plains?
Peak: Trout Peak
Elevation: 12,244 ft
Better to climb or to admire from afar: Might just want to admire
“There are three different trails you can come in on – [Spout Springs, Jim Creek, Dead Indian Meadows] – I’ve been in the area from each of the three of them, and being down on these trails you can see the summit well,” said Larsen. “They all come together at a point, and all three trails are close to the same length.”
“A friend and I talked about climbing this, but haven’t been to the top,” said Gasch. “We’ve circumnavigated it a lot, and we’ve always said it’s just too big to be ignored. It’s not a technical climb, but it takes some navigating and some work to get to the top. It’s not for the average person. You would definitely want some knowledge of the area.
The Trout Peak massif – that whole promontory that’s part of that uplift – it’s a pretty special area. It’s fairly accessible, but it’s not something you want to take light heartedly. It is extremely rugged territory on the northwest side – Damnation Basin. The terrain back there is very remote given that you can see the peak itself from the Powell Highway, from Sunlight Basin, and from the North Fork. It’s a ways back there. And the times I’ve been back in the area, I’ve been impressed by how pristine it is.”
Worth Carrying: PAT O’HARA Brewing Company King Kirk Kolsch (Growler style)
Location: Brewed in Cody, Wyoming. This brewery takes its name from one of the early trappers who established claims in the North Absarokas from which Trout Peak rises (Pat O’Hara Mountain is another in this range). What better brewery to fill your growler than one named for an epic early adventurer of these towering mountains?
Description: “This beer is a German-style kölsch,” said Pat O’Hara Owner and Brewmaster Leonard Moore. “A kölsch is a German-style pilsner beer. This is a nice, light summer beer that’s very drinkable. It’s the second recipe that was ever developed and brewed here, and it’s a great beer to sit and drink while enjoying the outdoors. Bring in your growler, and we’ll fill it up.”
Germany is famous for both its mountain peaks and brave mountaineers. Embrace the German spirit by filling your growler with some King Kirk Kolsch, and you’ll be king of this mountain whether you’re cheersing it from top or bottom.
Peak: Carter Mountain (Sawmill Park)
Elevation: 12,319 ft summit height, Sawmill Park sits a couple thousand feet below peak.
Better to hike or to admire from afar: Drive or hike to Sawmill, admire summit
“Sawmill Park is located just below the Carter summit cliffs, and you can drive right to it,” said Larsen. “There are lots of trees, meadows and old cowboy or sheepherder cabins. It’s a really nice place to go up and camp.”
“That Sawmill Park area, it’s so accessible,” said Gasch. “Sawmill Park would be a good one for someone who is not necessarily physically fit – they can still get up there and enjoy the mountains and feel like they’re out into the wilderness … Sawmill is a great camping destination.”
Worth Carrying: One-Eyed Buffalo Brewing Company “Spiceh” Saison
Location: Brewed in Thermopolis, Wyoming. One of Wyoming’s newest breweries is located on the edge of the Bighorn Basin at the intersection of many of the state’s greatest outdoor opportunities. This brewery makes beer for the best outside occasions, be it hiking, camping, fishing, boating – however you enjoy Wyoming!
Description: “For a good beer to enjoy on a hot day outside, I would especially suggest our Spiceh! Saison,” said Damien Oliver, President of One-Eyed Buffalo Brewing Company. “It’s got coriander and bitter orange peel, and it’s really a nice, refreshing summer brew. We’re already on our 30th brew of this beer.”
Add a little spice to your laid-back day or camping trip up Carter, and celebrate the Wyoming summer sunshine with a classic pale ale that can help beat the heat.
Peak: Cedar Mountain
Elevation: 7,890 ft
Better to hike or to admire from afar: Try to hike to the summit!
“This hike is really close to town, and once you get to Cedar, there’s a road that goes most of the way up,” said Larsen. “If you can make it to the radio towers, you can keep hiking further west to get to the edge as far as you can and look our over the [Buffalo Bill] reservoir. There are also a lot of trails that run off the road so if you want to get off the road you can hike up on one of those.”
“We call it Spirit Mountain,” said Gasch. “I think most locals have it figured out that it’s an amazing rec area. The mountain has tremendous bouldering, a couple good bolted rock routes, good mountain biking, and great hiking.
Geologically it is an amazing mountain, and I’ve often looked at it and wondered how it’s still standing. It’s a huge choss pile. It’s really intriguing. The mountain itself has so many opportunities, it’s like an extended city park.”
Worth Carrying: Black Tooth Brewing Company Saddle Bronc Brown
Location: Brewed in Sheridan, Wyoming. With the slogan, “Drink the West,” this Wyoming brewery is full of proud, bold pioneer flavor. Made in one of Wyoming’s many communities with deep-running ties to ranching, rodeo, and the land, these beers are made for the modern-day cowboy and outdoorsman.
Description: “As rich in flavor and culture as the state of Wyoming, Saddle Bronc – a brown ale – maintains the perfect balance of flavor and smoothness,” said Jesse Woods, General Manager at Black Tooth. “The rich, toasty, yet somewhat chocolate-ness rides atop your tongue until the velvety smooth finish.”
The farther one ventures up Cedar, the better the view not only of the country leading into Yellowstone, but also of o the Cody Nite Rodeo Grounds just below. Cheers to watching a good saddle bronc ride from a safe, lofty distance with a saddle bronc of your own in hand!
Peak: Pilot & Index Peak
Elevation: 11,708 ft (Pilot’s summit)
Better to hike or to admire from afar: Better to admire from afar
“You can see these well from Chief Joseph and especially further on the Beartooth Highway, once you’re getting near Cooke City,” said Larsen.
“Pilot and index are certainly iconic,” said Gasch. “When you look at them, you just go ‘wow.’ I’ve not been on Index, but I’ve been 200 feet from the top on Pilot before having to turn around … Neither of these peaks have been climbed all that much.
Ram’s pasture to the northwest of these peaks is an amazing hike and great camp destination. It’s a gorgeous high mountain meadow with a flowing spring and lots of wildlife, especially sheep … Traveling from here to stand underneath Pilot, the mountain itself looks like the bow of a ship, like the bow of the Titanic – it’s massive. That mountain is huge. People see it from a distance, but that thing is big and it’s long and you approach it from the northwest and have to traverse and come back, literally almost circumnavigate it to get to the summit. It is a very complex endeavor and not to be taken lightly or by anyone who doesn’t have climbing experience. I have never been on a mountain that’s been more complex route finding. But the views are spectacular and really exposed.”
Worth Carrying: Ten Sleep Brewing Co. Outlaw Amber
Location: Brewed in Ten Sleep, Wyoming. Here’s a small-town Wyoming brewery that is using a timeless, long-standing barn as its headquarters to brew “good beer for good people.” Located in the gateway to endless outdoor ventures in Ten Sleep Canyon and the Bighorn Mountains, Ten Sleep Brewery offers beer specially made to refresh the Wyoming adventurer.
Description: “Hit the back country and hide out from the masses enjoying the rich flavor of Outlaw Amber,” said Paula Fauth, Retail Sales Manager for Ten Sleep Brewery. “The first drink transports you to the time when outlaws could be absorbed into the wilderness and freed from their pursuers. Our smooth Outlaw Amber combines subtle chocolate tones, slightly hopped aromas and a dynamic malting, that produces a rich amber ale any renegade would enjoy.”
No doubt the high peaks and dense wilderness of the Absarokas hid plenty of outlaws when the wild west was at its wildest. Now, you don’t have to be in trouble with the law to live the modern outlaw way – leaving civilization behind to enjoy wilderness views with a cold Outlaw brew in hand.