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The Grownup Pleasures of Yellowstone Country’s Secret Season

August 14th, 2017 by Park County Travel Council | Comments (2)

Before you accuse me of not loving kids, I will state for the record that I adore seeing kids in Yellowstone Country. Every time I see school-age kids roaming the Buffalo Bill Center of the West, I am reminded of a child’s pure curiosity. Whenever I watch kids try to catch the calf at the Cody Nite Rodeo, I am invigorated by their enthusiasm. But sometimes, I just want to have a quiet cocktail in the company of other adults.

That’s why I’m ready for “Secret Season” in Yellowstone Country.

During this period, the make-up of visitors to Cody changes. Half-way through the month of August, we notice fewer families departing Cowtown Candy Company with bags of fudge and caramel corn. And there are noticeably fewer kids participating in the Calf Scramble at the Cody Nite Rodeo. By the end of August, families have largely disappeared, no doubt with their attention once again on school supplies, summer reading lists and the beginning of soccer practice.

The Secret Season is not only transformative because there are fewer kids and more adults, particularly adults of empty nesting age. Some mornings, there’s a slight chill in the air. Our wildlife seems to be a little restless. There are more likely to be bear sightings in Wapiti Valley and moose sightings in the willow flats at Pahaska Tepee. Humans seem restless too. There are increased numbers of adults roaming through galleries looking for Western art, as we gear up for the Rendezvous Royale, this year  the week of September 18th thru the 23rd. This is a week-long celebration of Western art that includes an art show, auction, quick draw event, educational seminars, studio tours and the Patron’s Ball. The 36th Annual Buffalo Bill Art Show and Sale is Friday, September 22nd.

A wooden dresser on a stand a stand at a celebration of Western art.

Art and furniture buyers head to Cody during Rendezvous Royale, an annual week-long celebration of Western art.

Following Rendezvous Royale, we’ll still see plenty of grown-up adventurers for at least another month, or until fall becomes winter. The East entrance into Yellowstone closes on November 6th and we tend to see a decline in the Secret Season visitors after that.

A river surrounded by mountains and trees in the fall at Yellowstone.

The adult-centric “secret season” is also a great time to go for a hike.

Here are some of my favorite grown-up things to do during this special time in Buffalo Bill’s Cody/Yellowstone Country:

-Sip a fine cocktail at Spirits, the lounge in the conservatory of the Chamberlin Inn. There is often live music, and the meticulously maintained gardens are still in full bloom.

A patio with table and chairs in a garden on a sunny day.

Spirits at the Chamberlin Inn is a good place for grownups to gather for a quiet drink.

-Have a leisurely dinner at The Local, a restaurant specializing in cuisine prepared with fresh, sustainably harvested ingredients. Since Secret Season is also during the harvest, I know I’m always in for a treat no matter what I order.

-Hang out at Rocky Mountain MoJoe with a latte and a book.

-Hike anywhere, but always with a buddy.  Trails in Yellowstone Country are endless, and wildlife can often be seen along the way. I always practice safe hiking by getting an early start and finishing before afternoon thunderstorms roll in, carrying bear spray and talking or making noise to alert our naturally shy critters to our approach.

An elk in the woods during the day.

Elk and other wildlife can often be spotted during the late summer/early fall.

-Linger over the choice of truffles at the Meeteetse Chocolatier.

Until next time, I’m lovin’ life – and acting like a grownup – here in Buffalo Bill’s Cody/Yellowstone Country.


Dennis Dorotiak (August 19, 2017)

My favorite family vacation experiences
growing up and as a dad were in Yellowstone and Cody. Several first time
things. First sightings of several wild mammals. First trout fishing. Most trout
caught. First encounter with a moose.
First hike into a wilderness area. First hike into area known for Grizzly Bear.
First time in a Western art museum.
First time encounter with business owners becoming friends joining us fishing. First time in Yellowstone Park
and first time followups there in another season. First times at the lower and upper falls, the canyons, geysers, Old Faithful.
First time sighting Idaho from Wyoming.
First time seeing the Grand Tetons after
leaving Yellowstone. First time seeing American visitors dominate a national park in the 1960’s while seeing foreign
visitors dominate the same park in the early 1990’s. First time I saw my Dad catch a trout. First time seeing the Cody Dam, Reservoir and the Shoshone River close up.

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Dennis Dorotiak (August 19, 2017)

Thank you for the great and wonderful information in Cody and Yellowstone Country.

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