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Royal Wulff Tavern in Silver Gate offers unique, historical experience

Sign outside of the Royal Wulff Tavern in Silver Gate
Posted at 5:56 PM, Jun 06, 2024

SILVER GATE — The Beartooth Pass is officially open, and Cooke City and Silver Gate are ready to welcome summer tourists.

Silver Gate, Montana
Silver Gate, Montana

Year-long residents and tourists alike are enamored with the breathtaking scenery Silver Gate has to offer.

"The longer you live here, the harder it is to live anywhere else,” said Chris Warren, who grew up in Cooke City, on Wednesday. "You just get used to the freedom. The rest of the world seems a little busy."

Chris Warren
Chris Warren

It's a hidden Montana gem, tucked away in the Beartooth Mountains.

"It was just what we were here for,” said Lisa Helmberger, who was visiting from Oregon, on Wednesday. "There's just so much to see."

Lisa Helmberger
Lisa Helmberger

Silver Gate is known for its incredible views and historical significance.

"(Ernest) Hemingway was in Cooke City and Silver Gate in 1930, 1932, 1936, 1938, and 1939," Warren said. "He sent off final drafts of 'Death in the Afternoon' and 'To Have and Have Not' from our general store."

Cooke City General Store
Cooke City General Store

Warren was born and raised in Cooke City and spent years of his life connecting Ernest Hemingway's writings to the area.

Warren with his book, 'Ernest Hemingway in the Yellowstone High Country'
Warren with his book, 'Ernest Hemingway in the Yellowstone High Country'

"I found more and more information, and it started to grow into a book," Warren said. "We did host the International Hemingway Conference in 2022."

Warren wrote a book documenting his findings, titled "Ernest Hemingway in the Yellowstone High Country". It won a Montana Book Award.

In 2022, Warren jumped on the opportunity to take up space in the historical Range Riders Lodge in Silver Gate.

Range Riders Lodge
Range Riders Lodge

"This lodge in particular was built in 1937,” said Warren. "They started (constructing) it on July 10, 1937, and it opened on June 3, 1938."

Web Extra: Warren speaks on Silver Gate history

In 2022, he turned a corner of the lodge into the Royal Wulff Tavern.

"It's a bar and a restaurant. We go to town and buy fresh food," Warren said. "We serve classic cocktails. We're going back to the original history of the place when it opened. It served the same drinks."

The bar and restaurant offers a trip back in time with a Hemingway exhibit.

"What I'm trying to do is just combine my local knowledge, my time here, my experience in the food service industry, and my Hemingway scholarship, and just fold it all into one and try and make a little money out of it," Warren said.

From the Hemingway exhibit
From the Hemingway exhibit

"This is history I gathered through local sources," Warren said. "It's a part of Montana history that was glossed over."

A photo of a young Ernest Hemingway
A photo of a young Ernest Hemingway

Pieces of history seemingly forgotten—that Warren is working to keep alive.

Historical pieces on display
Historical pieces on display

Royal Wulff showcases the area’s history.

An excerpt from Hemingway writing about Cooke City
An excerpt from Hemingway writing about Cooke City

The Yellowstone Buses used to sell tickets out of a booth in the lodge that is now used as an Absinthe booth.

Bus ticket teller booth
Bus ticket teller booth

The lodge is still used to house locals and guests.

View from the Range Riders Lodge
View from the Range Riders Lodge

The place offers a unique experience for those willing to make the trip.

"Yesterday, we had a grizzly bear give birth to five cubs. Whether your viewers will believe it or not, there was a white buffalo born in Lamar Valley," Warren said. "It's wild country, and it can be a little dangerous. But that's what lends it this unique quality."

To learn more about the Royal Wulff Tavern, click here.

To learn more about "Ernest Hemingway in the Yellowstone High Country", click here.