What to do in historic Cody town, Wyoming
Cody in Wyoming, United States, is known as the “Eastern Gateway to Yellowstone Country.” The town of Cody sits just 50 miles from the east entrance to Yellowstone National Park, making it a popular gateway for park visitors. When going there with Austin Adventures small group press tour, I expected just staying overnight before a great visit to Yellowstone National park. When I arrived, I was genuinely surprised by what this small town with less than 10 000 inhabitants offers to its visitors. I highly recommend including a visit to Cody in your Yellowstone trip itinerary.
Cody is named after William Frederick “Buffalo Bill” Cody who was one of the founders of Cody in 1896. No surprise that the town was recently named the 7th Best Historic Small Town by USA Today’s 10 Best. So here is the story of Buffalo Bill and a few great places to visit and activities to engage in and where to stay while in Cody.
Buffalo Bill story
Buffalo Bill, William Frederick Cody (1846-1917), got his nickname hunting buffalo to feed the construction crews of the Kansas Pacific Railroad. By his own count, he killed 4,280 head of buffalo in seventeen months. At the end of the 19th century, Cody created what would become Buffalo Bill’s Wild West, a grand performance that brought him a fortune and worldwide fame. It was an outdoor show with some of the most picturesque elements of frontier life: a buffalo hunt with real buffalos, an Indian attack with real Indians, a Pony Express ride, and at the culmination, a presentation of Custer’s Last Stand, the battle between Indian tribes and the US army. This battle was won by Indian tribes; some real participants of the battle took part in the show. Half circus and half history lesson, the show proved an enormous success, touring the US for three decades and also performing across Europe. At the beginning of the twentieth century, William F. Cody was arguably the most famous American in the world and a symbol of the West for Americans and Europeans. Ten American presidents consulted him on matters of the American West.
Buffalo Bill Centre of the West
You might not expect it in the small town of Cody, but the Buffalo Bill Centre of the West on the area of 2,8 hectares (7 acres) houses five world-class museums, namely Buffalo Bill Museum, Cody Firearms Museum, Draper Natural History Museum, Whitney Western Art Museum, Plains Indian Museum, and a McCracken research library, all under one roof. The centre is dedicated to the American West, its history, art, Native American heritage, the nature of the Yellowstone region, and firearms in the West. The Centre is an Affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution, accredited by the American Alliance of Museums. Being pressed for time, I only explored two museums: The Whitney Western Art Museum and Buffalo Bill’s museum. The Whitney Western Art Museum’s collection includes original paintings, sculptures, and prints that trace artistic interpretations of the West from the early nineteenth century to this day. Started by Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney’s 1929 donation, it has an excellent collection of paintings, prints, sculptures, and more. It gives visitors a broad overview of the West through the works of the artists. Buffalo Bill museum tells the life story of William Frederick Cody through many exhibits, pictures, paintings, and artefacts.
Historic Irma Hotel Cody
The Irma Hotel was founded by Buffalo Bill in 1902. He called it “just the sweetest hotel that ever was” and named it after his youngest daughter, Irma. The Irma is listed on the National Register of Historic Places by the National Park Service in recognition of its contribution to the cultural foundations of America. The Irma’s famous cherrywood bar, a gift from Queen Victoria, dates back to the period of construction. The original part of the hotel was built for Buffalo Bill; the hotel was enlarged in 1929 and in 1977. I did not stay at the hotel but had the opportunity to visit a suite there. I also saw many old photos and wild game mounts. Our group had an excellent meal with a dinner buffet there.
Old trail town
On the outskirts of Cody lies Old Trail Town, a collection of historic buildings from Wyoming’s frontier days. On this site in 1895, Western scout and showman William F. (“Buffalo Bill”) Cody laid out the original townsite of Cody that was named in his honour. From remote locations in Wyoming and Montana, these historic buildings were carefully disassembled, moved and reassembled at Old Trail Town by Western historian Bob Edgar and his friends. Open from May to October.
Cody is the only place in the United States that has a rodeo performance nightly, making it the Rodeo Capital of the World. Cody Night Rodeo takes place every night from June to September. Some say that the Cody Stampede Professional Rodeo is the best large outdoor rodeo in the nation. It runs from July 1st through the 4th. The year 2019 marked the 100th anniversary of Cody Stampede and the 81st anniversary of the nightly performances.
White water rafting in Cody
It was the first time I was doing white water rafting and I was happy that it was with Wyoming River Trips. This family owned company has been in operation since 1978. Here is what sets Wyoming River Trips apart from all the rest: they are the only company with access to the Red Rock Canyon of the Shoshone River, which is the premier section of the river in Cody. Also, Wyoming River Trips is the only company with a Special Use Permit, awarded by the National Forest Service, which allows them to operate in the Shoshone National Forest, just outside of Yellowstone National Park. Wyoming River Trips has been featured in many national publications and on TV.
The rafting was awesome, with excellent views of the Shoshone River. The Red Rock Canyon of the Shoshone, where rafting in Cody began, is without a doubt the premier section of the river in the Cody area. The Shoshone River there is flowing through an extinct geyser basin known as “Colter’s Hell”. The geological formations of it are truly one of a kind.
Where to stay: Cody hotel
The Cody Hotel has a convenient location, about one hour drive from Yellowstone National Park’s East Entrance gate. The luxurious accommodations and superior services, like an indoor heated pool, make it the perfect place for a stay. I especially appreciated the opportunity to make my morning coffee in my room. The Cody Hotel is located just across the street from the Cody Rodeo at the Stampede Arena and Old Trail Town. The rates start from 129 USD.
Travel with Austin Adventures to Cody
During our visit to Cody, we had the best care of Austin Adventures Tour Company, voted one of the top three Adventure Travel Companies in the world by the readers of USA Today in 2019. Family owned, Austin Adventures provides active travel in small groups for families and adult travellers. Red carpet, great surprises, wow moments, like a guide appearing trailside with wine and a cheese platter, is what you can expect from a trip with Austin Adventures. The visit to Cody is included in their Montana/Wyoming –Western Adventure tour and I highly recommend Austin Adventures for your future trips.
Disclaimer: I was kindly invited as a guest by Austin Adventures. As always, all opinions and thoughts are my own. I had a great time and I wish you the same! Happy travels!
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What did you think? Have you been to Cody, Wyoming? Or perhaps you’re thinking of visiting there in the near future? Either way, I’d love to hear from you so please add your comments below.
Author: Anita Sane