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'Baking a difference:' Montana woman serving up cookies

Cookie Lady.jpg
Posted at 4:20 PM, Jun 25, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-25 18:32:29-04

THREE FORKS — If you’ve ever visited Madison Buffalo Jump State Park out near Three Forks, you’ve probably seen it: a little red wagon on the side of the road, filled with coolers -- and cookies.

In the summer, in places like Madison Buffalo Jump State Park, the terrain could be a little rugged, if it isn’t already hot.

On days like those, what sounds really nice are some cookies and some water, right?

One could leave it to Karen Rose near Three Forks, who is doing just that: making cookies is her specialty, just like making a big difference in a little way.

“It’s just some little thing that I can do to make someone pull away and smile,” Rose said.

Who doesn’t love cookies?

MTN’s Cody Boyer made the hike in 90-plus degree heat from Buffalo Jump to her house, a little more than a mile, and says he’d do it again.

Why?

That’s where Karen’s Cookies has been set up on the side of Buffalo Jump Road for more than five years now.

“I think I only had one cooler then and I think I probably baked every three days,” Rose said. “Now I probably bake three times a day.”

Inside the coolers is your choice of peanut butter or chocolate chip cookies, along with water, a little jar for money, and dog treats, welcoming more travelers each summer.

“It definitely has grown because of the number of people and, as we said, more people started venturing out during the pandemic,” Rose says.

While we were checking in with Karen, one man on a two-day motorcycle ride from California made a stop on the gravel road after spotting her white, cursive sign.

“This makes my trip out here really worthwhile out here, getting some cookies,” he said.

“This cookie jar was left, wrapped in a bag with a note just inside my door,” Rose says, pointing to an antique cookie jar in one of the coolers, now perched on an old field wagon. “That’s just a little gift that you can store your cookies in. Thank you for making our day when we came out here.”

Starting from a red Radio Flyer, now with a western-style update, the cookie-stop is all on the “honor system,” but yes, she has been robbed.

Still, that won’t slow her down.

“It’s not really about the money,” Rose said. “That’s why I don’t quit. If it was, I would quit when I was robbed, right? If it was all about the money? But it’s not.”

Each dollar helps, Karen wears more than a baker’s hat.

She also runs several Airbnb’s and hosts farm-to-table dinners for anyone who needs it. “For anyone who is listening, I’ve got about 60 movies,” Rose laughed.

Oh, and she has a movie theater, which she says is also for everyone.

“You wake up in the morning and you make a decision: Are you going to do that today?” Rose said. “And to me, I don’t want a day to go by and I can’t do that. That’s my goal every day, is try to impact someone’s life in a positive way."

"This is probably the only thing I didn’t expect about this, is any credit," Rose continued. "First of all, it’s easy to do good.”

So if you love cookies, Karen says she’ll be there on that roadside for years to come.

“I said I believe in the honor system, which means I’m going to keep doing this no matter how many times I get robbed because I believe in it,” Rose says.

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