While the government shutdown has closed Yellowstone National Park, Buffalo Bill’s Cody/Yellowstone Country and the area east of the park still offer plenty of great fall activities.
Here are some reasons to visit the region:
· Wildlife viewing is near its peak in the Wapiti Valley between Cody and the east gate of Yellowstone. Bears are preparing for winter, and bull elk are emitting a distinctive bugling sound to get the attention of potential mates. There are also good opportunities to see pronghorn, bighorn sheep, deer, moose and eagles.
· The region offers some of the world’s finest trout streams, and Cody has more than its share of expert fishing guides. Multiple fly fishing shops offer maps and advice.
· Restaurants are open, extending a wide range of ethnic foods as well as traditional fare. Two breweries have opened offering local beers, pub foods and full menus.
· The town’s retail shops and art galleries display a large selection of Western paintings, leather work, furniture, sculptures and more.
· Accommodations are easy to secure this time of year, and travelers have a wide array of lodging choices, from independent boutique hotels, luxury hotels, budget friendly accommodations, or bed and breakfasts
· State parks are not affected by federal government closure. You can still camp, fish and hike at the Buffalo Bill State Park just west of Cody.
· Outfitters lead classes and rock-climbing expeditions throughout the Cody region. The region is well-suited to climbing, with porous rock creating drainages and rock formations that appeal to climbers of all abilities. Conditions are typically good for rock climbing through October.
· There are several hunting seasons in the fall – for pronghorn, deer, elk, moose and bighorn sheep. Dates for each season vary, and hunters should check for details and hunting regulations at http://gf.state.wy.us/admin/Regs/.
· A new book, “East of Yellowstone – A Hiker’s Guide to Cody,” features maps, photos and hike specifications such as length, time, difficulty, best season, access and landowner information for 20 regional hikes. The book was authored by JD Tanner and Emily Ressler-Tanner and is available at Sunlight Sports, a long-time Sheridan Avenue shop that provides locals and visitors alike with all of their outdoor adventure needs.
· The Heart Mountain Interpretive Center at the site of the Heart Mountain Internment Camp offers a glimpse into the lives of some 14,000 Japanese-American citizens who were interned there during World War II. Opened in August 2011, the center explores that difficult period of the country’s history with thoughtful exhibits that encourage visitors to ask the question “Could this happen today?” The center is open year-round. Admission is $7 for adults, $5 for students and seniors, and free for children under the age of 12.
· The storied life of the town’s founder, Colonel William Frederick Cody, is presented in the recently reinstalled Buffalo Bill Museum, one of five museums that comprise the Buffalo Bill Center of the West. There are also museums dedicated to firearms, fine Western Art, the Plains Indians of the region and the Greater Yellowstone ecosystem.
· Tecumseh’s Old West Miniature Village and Museum is a massive diorama that showcases western and Wyoming history and features thousands of American Indian and other historic artifacts. The diorama is free with donations accepted and open year-round. Travelers visiting between November and April should make an appointment first by calling 307-587-5367.
Until next time, I’m lovin’ life – and the great fall activities – here in Cody, Wyo.