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Ranger Heritage

Yellowstone's Historic Ranger Patrol Cabins

In addition to their practical purposes, the ranger patrol cabins in Yellowstone possess a rich history. Here are some interesting facts about a few of them:

Buffalo Lake Cabin

Constructed in 1912, the Buffalo Lake Cabin is the oldest existing cabin in Yellowstone. It is located about a mile from the west boundary of the Park. Historically, this cabin was used to patrol the boundary for fur trappers, and today it is used during boundary patrol, trail clearing, and the monitoring of geothermal areas.

Harebell Patrol Cabin

The Harebell Patrol Cabin is one of the original "snowshoe cabins" built by the Army between 1912 and 1920 when winter patrol was done by snowshoe between cabins that were purposely built to be one day's travel apart. It is located on the Park's south boundary west of Big Game Ridge, and the primary function of the cabin is to serve as a base for boundary patrol during the fall hunting season.

Thorofare Patrol Cabin

There is no occupied dwelling in the contiguous United States farther from a road than the Thorofare Patrol Cabin, near the southeast border of the Park. The cabin, which is tucked in Yellowstone's most remote corner, is a 32-mile hike from the nearest road.

Observation Peak Lookout

The Observation Peak Lookout, just north of Cascade Lake, was built in 1937 as a fire lookout but is no longer used for that purpose. Observation Peak is now used for patrols and trail clearing, and also for ranger orientation. It allows new rangers to gain backcountry skills and the experience of staying in and maintaining a backcountry cabin.


Unfortunately, exposure to the harsh mountain environment takes a toll on these structures, creating a constant need for maintenance and repair. All of the Park's 36 cabins are currently in need of significant rehabilitation. Roofs are leaking, log walls need re-chinking, windows need replacing, and stoves need maintenance or replacement.

The Yellowstone Park Foundation, as part of the Ranger Heritage Initiative, has committed to raising funds to repair these historic cabins that serve backcountry rangers in challenging weather and circumstances.

If you would like to help preserve the tradition and vital shelter these cabins provide to Yellowstone's hardworking rangers, please consider making a tax-deductible donation to the Ranger Heritage Initiative today.