15 Free Experiences in Cody Yellowstone
You know the old expressions: “The best things in life are free” and “The most lasting memories are made, not bought.” Here in Cody Yellowstone, we happen to agree! Our unique and welcoming destination offers a long list of exciting family-friendly activities that are available totally free of charge. Our vast open landscape lends itself to cost-free adventures featuring roaming wildlife and fascinating history and cultural experiences. And we want to share a few of them with you!
Here are 15 ways to have fun in Cody without spending a dime.
Free Things To Do in Cody, WY
Here in Cody Yellowstone, the word “free” has several distinct and special meanings. It can describe our incredibly diverse wildlife, which roams the land freely. It can describe the principles on which cowboy legend Buffalo Bill Cody founded his Wild West town. And it can describe many of our favorite experiences, which are available for free! Here are some of the best no-cost things to do in Cody, Wyoming and the surrounding area.
Take a Free Walking Tour
Discover the remarkable history of Cody during a narrated, downloadable walking tour of the town’s historic streets. Travel Storys created this free app in partnership with Cody Yellowstone and the Buffalo Bill Center of the West. You’ll discover why Cody has been named the Best Western Small Town in America and learn a lot of fun facts along the way.
Take the Story on the Road
While you’re at it, download the Travel Storys audio tour about the Road to Yellowstone — the Buffalo Bill Scenic Byway, from downtown Cody to the East entrance of Yellowstone National Park. This audio tour will accompany road-trippers on one of the most scenic drives in the West, offering history and interesting information about the region. It’s one of the most famously beautiful drives in Wyoming and was once called “the most scenic 50 miles in America” by legendary outdoorsman and President Teddy Roosevelt.
Do Something That Rocks
Cody Yellowstone’s unique natural landscape is a geologist’s dream, with rock formations and mountains scattered throughout the region and ready for exploration. The 52-mile road between Cody and the east entrance to Yellowstone National Park has plenty of rock formations and lava flows named by imaginative locals. Find “Snoopy the Dog” or “Laughing Pig Rock,” two of the more famous formations among a long list of stunning scenes. The route travels along the North Fork of the Shoshone River and traverses the Wapiti Valley through the Shoshone Forest.
Learn About the Legacy of Western Design
By Western Hands is an innovative museum and gallery that showcases the region’s extraordinary functional art and furniture. Thomas Molesworth popularized the style and became the furniture-making darling of Easterners charmed by the unique furniture found in the region’s dude and guest ranches. As a non-profit artisan guild, By Western Hands showcases how the area became the birthplace of Western design and how its artists honor that heritage through their unique and attractive creations.
See Buffalo Bill’s Hunting Lodge
Pahaska Tepee is where Buffalo Bill Cody, AKA “The Colonel”, relaxed with friends like 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” after the nickname given to him by the local Native Americans, meaning “long hair.” The rustic log lodge displays many gifts given to Cody by guests. A restaurant and gift shop are housed in an adjacent building.
Enjoy a Dam Visit
If you’re traveling with someone fascinated by large-scale engineering and who loves to learn how things work, they will thoroughly enjoy visiting the Buffalo Bill Dam Visitor Center. Water conservation was as much a concern in the days of Buffalo Bill Cody as it is in the West today. Cody convinced the U.S. government to build a dam to help conserve that precious resource. Today, agriculture thrives in this naturally arid area due to his foresight. Visit the dam and learn all about its history, construction and benefits. The dam is located six miles west of Cody.
Dig Up The Past at the Cody Dug Up Gun Museum
Stroll through history while viewing hundreds of relic guns and other weapons at the Cody Dug Up Gun Museum. This fun and funky museum displays weapons from many periods in American history. The one thing they have in common? They all have been found buried in the ground in former battlefields, as well as farms, backyards, and wilderness areas throughout the world. Admission to the museum is free, but donations are encouraged.
Enjoy a Hike in Cody’s Scenic Trails
Exploring by foot is a fun, fascinating, and free way to discover the best of Cody Yellowstone. So strap on your walking shoes and hike, stroll and wander downtown Cody and some of the hundreds of hiking trails surrounding the town. Cody features a variety of shops and artists’ galleries that welcome window-shopping visitors.
Watch a Gunfight at the Irma Hotel
The Irma Hotel is the place to be at 6 p.m. on summer evenings in Cody. This is where you’ll be treated to the spectacular and supremely entertaining Cody Wild Bunch as they engage in Western skits that always end up in a gunfight (often prompted by a damsel in distress). Kids learn about gun safety, and parents enjoy a classic Cody experience without having to reach for their wallets. This fun-loving and slightly wacky group of locals performs most nights in the summer.
Enjoy Local Art at Cody Country Art League
View fine Western art created by local artists at the Cody Country Art League, which shares a historic building – the original Buffalo Bill Museum – with the Cody Visitor Center. Artists with ties to the community display photography, oil and watercolor paintings, sculptures, and more.
What to Do in Cody, Wyoming: More Free Experiences
Feats of engineering, one-of-a-kind art and culture, and wild Western history are just the beginning. Here are even more free experiences to check out in Cody Yellowstone.
Cody Firearms Experience: A Glimpse into History
The Cody Firearms Experience is a unique activity that walks enthusiasts through the history of firearms with hands-on opportunities to shoot historic firearms. While not entirely free, the Cody Firearms Experience does offer free admission to their museum, which houses a collection of historic firearms. Visitors only pay if they choose to participate in the shooting experience. The experience is a must-visit for those who love the history of the Wild West.
Breathtaking Views at Dead Indian Summit Overlook
Everywhere you look in Cody Yellowstone, you’ll find breathtaking views. There are plenty of candidates for the very best view in the region, and Dead Indian Summit Overlook definitely has its supporters. You may find yourself speechless when you take in the panoramic views of the Absaroka Mountains and the Sunlight Basin. The view is located on the Chief Joseph Scenic Byway, so the drive itself is beautiful in its own right. Take some photos or simply take in the view and contemplate the vast and wild landscape. While the name is unpleasant, it harkens back to an important historical event, named for events of the Nez Perce War of 1877.
Cody Farmer’s Market: Local Produce and Goods
Cody Yellowstone is positively packed with restaurants offering delicious meals, so it’s no wonder the local farmers are so productive! Take the opportunity to sample the freshest locally grown produce and meet the region’s hardworking vendors at the Cody Farmer’s Market. The market is open every Saturday from 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. all summer long, and from 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. between October and April. The market is completely free to visit, but of course, we encourage you to purchase some delicious treats from our hard-working local farmers, bakers, and artisans.
Explore Paul Stock Nature Trail: A Walk in Nature
Yet another opportunity to get out into Cody’s glorious natural landscape and enjoy the sights and sounds of the wilderness. The Paul Stock Nature Trail is one of many hiking trails, parks, and pathways that are free to access. It provides a peaceful stroll along the Shoshone River that features a 1.3-mile gravel path with fishing areas, a children’s playground, and a waterfowl viewing area. It’s the perfect opportunity to enjoy a picnic or to simply spend the day immersed in nature.
Visit the McCracken Research Library
The award-winning Buffalo Bill Center of the West is renowned for its five museums under one roof. But did you know it also contains an incredible library filled with a wealth of information and artifacts from the American West? The McCracken Research Library offers an extensive collection of original manuscripts, rare books, and historic photographs that provide a trip back in time. Visits from the general public to use manuscripts, photographs, or rare books must be arranged in advance. If you’re a history buff interested in exploring this fantastic archive, make your appointment today and get ready to explore the fascinating history of this dynamic region.
Experience Free Activities Near Cody Today
With so many fun free activities in Cody, Wyoming, you don’t need to be a big spender to enjoy everything Cody Yellowstone has to offer. Start planning your wild and free Cody adventure today!