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It’s Not Too Late to Take that Cody Vacation!

I was watching one of the Lord of the Rings movies one winter night when the character Gandalf explained to one of the hobbits that he was never late and never early but he always showed up according to his schedule.

Maybe you are a little like that. You haven’t made your summer vacation plans yet because the time wasn’t right. Well, if that’s your story – and you’re sticking to it – I have a few suggestions to help you get away. Get away with your story and get away for a vacation, that is.

We have plenty of options for accommodations in and around Cody and Yellowstone. Dude ranches, more commonly called guest ranches these days, have been a staple of the Western vacation experience for more than a century, and Cody has played an integral part of the evolution of these All-American vacation getaways. The roots of this vacation style can be traced to areas in Wyoming where the term “dude” originated and where many ranches operate today.

10 Places to Visit on your Cody, Wyoming Vacation

Enjoy a Western vacation at one of our local guest ranches

For guests who prefer in-town accommodations within walking distance of attractions like the Buffalo Bill Center of the West, Cody offers an array of boutique inns, hotels and lodges, cabins, and RV and tent campsites. A complete listing of accommodations can be found online.

There are plenty of options and many ways to fill the hours during a few days in Yellowstone Country. Here are 10 places that should be on every travelers’ agenda, and none of these activities requires advance planning.

1 – The Buffalo Bill Center of the West is a great place to start a Yellowstone Country adventure. This world-class facility is actually five separate museums, each with exhibits that look at different aspects of the American West. The Draper Museum of Natural History is especially popular with young visitors because of the museum’s extensive interactive displays and life-size exhibits of animals found in the greater Yellowstone ecosystem.
2 – Take a float trip down the Shoshone River. Vacationers with more time can opt for half-day whitewater rafting trips. Interpretive guides steer floats while providing stories and information about the area’s colorful characters, breathtaking scenery and abundant wildlife.

3 – Watch a hilarious street performance by the famous Cody Gunfighters.  The porch of the Irma Hotel is the best viewing point to watch this entertaining, quirky Cody event.

4 – Take an hour-long trolley tour of Cody and the surrounding area. The tour features live narration by a knowledgeable tour guide, entertaining audio clips and historical photos. The trolley tour is a great way to get an overview of the town and its history.

10 Places to Visit on your Cody, Wyoming Vacation 1

A Cody Trolley Tour provides a great overview of the town and its history

5 – Visit the Buffalo Bill Dam & Visitor Center. Located about six miles west of Cody, the dam was the brainchild of Buffalo Bill himself. It was completed in 1910 and at 353 feet was the highest concrete dam in the world. Continue to drive along the road and watch for elk, grizzly bears, eagles and other wildlife.

6 – Be entertained by Dan Miller’s Cowboy Music Revue, located in the historic Cody Theatre across from the Irma Hotel. The popular Branson-style music variety show features Nashville transplant Dan Miller and the “Empty Saddles Band.”

7 – Visit the Heart Mountain WWII Interpretive Center. This important interpretive center is situated at the site of the Heart Mountain WWII Internment Camp, home to some 14,000 Japanese-American citizens – mostly from California – who were interned there following Japan’s bombing of Pearl Harbor in 1941. Opened in August 2011, the Interpretive Center includes thoughtfully presented exhibits that explore that difficult period of the country’s history.

8 – Check out Old Trail Town/Museum of the Old West. An enclave of 26 frontier buildings (one used by Butch Cassidy and his gang), Old Trail Town offers a built-in teaching moment. Astonished youngsters are often heard commenting about how small the houses were back then.

9 – Tour Pahaska Tepee. This is where Buffalo Bill went to relax with friends such as Teddy Roosevelt and the Prince of Monaco. Built in 1904, this hunting lodge sits just outside the East Gate of Yellowstone National Park. It was called Pahaska Tepee, reflecting the nickname given to him by the local Indians; it means “long hair.” The rustic log lodge displays many gifts given to Buffalo Bill by guests.

10 Places to Visit on your Cody, Wyoming Vacation 2

Pahaska Tepee was Buffalo Bill’s spectacular hunting lodge

10 – And finally, don’t miss the Cody Nite Rodeo, which has earned Cody the designation as Rodeo Capital of the World. It is the only seven-night-a-week outdoor rodeo (June through August) in the country.

Talking about all of the great places we have to visit is making me want to get out and do some of them.

Until next week, I am lovin’ life – and crossing some great activities off my list – in Cody, Wyo.