EBS STAFF

In the late 1800s, the mountain men who inhabited the Yellowstone region survived by trapping, hunting and fishing the area’s abundant wildlife. Many of them got together once or twice a year to socialize, and sell and trade furs and hunting equipment at a gathering known as a rendezvous, a French word meaning “appointed place of meeting.”

From Friday, Aug. 4, through Thursday, Aug. 13, West Yellowstone hosts the 12th annual Smoking Waters Mountain Man Rendezvous and 1800s Living History Encampment at the Old Airport grounds for people to get a sense for how the mountain men of yesteryear lived, worked and traded. 

Visible from U.S. Route 20 when traveling from the southwest, the event replicates an1800s encampment featuring entertainment, demonstrations and seminars related to the trades and crafts of the era. Activities include storytelling sessions, a trader’s row, beading, leatherwork, parfleche (hide-stretching), knife and tomahawk throwing, primitive bow making, shooting and flint-knapping. Food vendors will also be on site. The event is free to the public.

Storytelling is a favorite activity at the Smoking Waters Mountain Man Rendezvous—and not just for the kids. Musicians provide live entertainment, and open fire cooking imbues the food with a rustic flavor. Black powder shoots engage young and old, as do the tomahawk and knife demonstrations. Rendezvous attendees can get a sense for some of the challenges and dangers that existed in the days of the mountain men when they take part in the seminars and competitions held during this event.

The Smoking Waters Mountain Man Rendezvous and 1800s Living History Encampment is open 9:30 a.m.-5:30 p.m. Aug. 4-Aug. 13, at the Old Airport, now Gallatin National Forest land directly west of West Yellowstone, adjacent to Iris Street.

For more information contact Sunshine Kirkpatrick at (406) 646-7931, by email at

dmawestyell@omsds.com or visit twoturtlestradingpost.com/events.html.