15 Pro Tips for a Last-Minute Visit to Cody Yellowstone
It may be the year of the road trip, but it’s not too late to check the tire pressure, change the oil and pack the cooler in anticipation of one of the all-time classics.
Every year, this northwestern Wyoming destination of Cody Yellowstone is an incredibly popular vacation destination for road-trippers. And with world-famous museums, iconic hotels, dude and guest ranches, fantastic restaurants, and the legendary Cody Nite Rodeo, it’s easy to see why. And we haven’t even mentioned Yellowstone National Park!
In fact, the park’s popularity played a significant role in William F. “Buffalo Bill” Cody’s decision to select this location as the spot to found the town of Cody 125 years ago. This is because it was such a convenient spot for travelers who were on their way to the world’s first national park.
There’s no doubt about it, Cody Yellowstone is a popular destination in the summer. But there’s still plenty of room for you — especially if you’re a planner! We’ve put together 15 pro tips — ranging from things to do before you arrive, to what to do when you’re here — for making your summer vacation in Cody Yellowstone unforgettable.
What to do Before You Arrive in Cody Yellowstone
Reserve Your Room or Campsite Now
(Photo: Chamberlin Inn)
No, we mean it, right now! The reality is that some of our hotels, campgrounds, and guest ranches are already sold out for the summer. That said, there are plenty of spots remaining, but the last thing we want is for anybody to be disappointed. So call ahead and make sure you have a place to rest your head throughout your Cody Yellowstone adventure.
Make Your Visit Midweek
This shouldn’t come as a surprise, but you’ll find more availability during the week than on the weekend. Midweek is also less crowded, which means it’s easier to enjoy the things you want.
Things to Pack: Binoculars, Food, Drinks, Common Sense, Common Courtesy, and Patience
Restaurants are immensely popular this year (and we know why — yum!), which means sometimes things can take a little longer. So if you’re in a hurry, consider stocking up at one of Cody’s grocery stores and supplementing restaurant meals with an occasional picnic. It’s also important to remember that popular attractions draw a lot of people. Destinations like the Old Faithful Geyser and park gates, for example, are bound to be busier during certain times of the day.
Download or Order Free Planning Guides
There are plenty of visitor guides available to help you plan your trip — including our very own Cody Yellowstone guide. There’s also the Yellowstone National Park guide and guides from attractions such as Buffalo Bill Center of the West. With these guides, it’s much easier to plan out what you want to see — and we love a plan!
Download the Free TravelStorys app
We’ve mentioned the TravelStorys app before — and for good reason! We love listening to the downtown Cody audio tour while strolling the town’s historic streets, and we think you will, too! Using the TravelStorys app is like walking around the town with a knowledgeable friend. There’s also an audio tour for the drive from Cody to Yellowstone.
Purchase Your Passes Online
Looking to avoid entrance lines? The best way to do that is by purchasing passes to major attractions in advance. For example, passes can be purchased ahead of time at Buffalo Bill Center of the West, Old Trail Town & Museum of the Old West, Cody Firearms Experience, Cody Nite Rodeo, Cody Trolley Tours, and Cody Cattle Company.
Map it Out
(Photo: Center of the West)
There’s so much to see in Cody Yellowstone, and the best way to make sure you see everything you want is to map it out! Download and study maps of Cody and Yellowstone National Park before setting out.
Take the Yellowstone Pledge
This is an important one. We love Yellowstone and want it to be at its best. That’s why we encourage everybody to take the Yellowstone Pledge. What’s the Yellowstone Pledge? Good question!
“I pledge to protect Yellowstone National Park. I will act responsibly and safely, set a good example for others, and share my love of the park and all the things that make it special.”
By vowing to be a responsible and safe visitor, you’ll make Yellowstone National Park a better place for everybody.
What to do During Your Visit to Cody Yellowstone
Crack the Dawn, Serenade the Sunset
What do we mean by this? Simple, arrive early and stay late! The National Park Service suggests arriving in Yellowstone National Park before the morning rush, which begins around 9 a.m., and staying until sunset, when wildlife watching is at its peak.
In addition, it’s worth repeating to avoid peak visitor times by seeing popular attractions like Old Faithful Geyser and Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone before 10 a.m. or after 3 p.m.
Draper Before Old Faithful
There’s nothing wrong with doing a little homework before visiting the natural wonders of Cody Yellowstone. In fact, we encourage it! Before visiting the park, take some time to learn a little about Yellowstone by visiting the acclaimed Draper Natural History Museum in the Buffalo Bill Center of the West first. With some additional context, you’ll be able to appreciate the sheer awesomeness of Yellowstone even more.
Annie Get Your Guide
A Cody Trolley Tour is the perfect way to get the lay of the land around these parts while also learning all about the town of Cody and town founder Buffalo Bill Cody. These entertaining tours are narrated by interpretive experts committed to their characters — they even dress in costumes of pivotal characters such as Annie Oakley, one of the stars of Buffalo Bill Cody’s Wild West Show.
Make Dan Part of the Plan
Dam Miller that is! Dan is Cody’s very own singing cowboy, who performs as part of the perennial favorite, Dan Miller’s Cowboy Music Revue. But that’s not the only entertainment here in town. You’ll also find plenty of lively entertainment at the Cowboy Cattle Company dinner show and the free Wild Bunch nightly gunfighter show. (We dare you not to laugh.)
Cowboy up at the Rodeo
Did you know Cody is known as the Rodeo Capital of the World? It’s true, and our nightly summer-season Cody Nite Rodeo is a big reason why! You can enjoy this classic Cody experience — a must for visitors and locals alike — all summer long.
Take a Hike
Even during the height of the summer, solitude is still easily found here in Cody Yellowstone — especially if you decide to take a hike. There are plenty of trails throughout Cody and Yellowstone National Park, from short strolls to challengingly wondrous walks. So do your research and choose a trek that’s exactly right for you.
Try Something out of the Ordinary
Cody Yellowstone offers a variety of great options for travelers seeking something new or unusual. For example, over in the town of Powell, the Chamber of Commerce offers Powell Interpretive Agriculture Tours. This tour showcases the literal fruits born of the Shoshone Project, which brought irrigation to the Big Horn Basin and expanded the region’s productive farmland.
Elsewhere, pay a visit to the Bill Cody Guest Ranch. Here, you can treat yourself to a BBQ dinner — a new Saturday night option this year — or book a mountaintop lunch ride featuring burgers grilled over an open flame.
With these tips, you’ll be ready for a Wild West adventure you’ll never forget, right here in Cody Yellowstone! To get started planning your vacation (yes, there’s still plenty of time!), get your copy of the Cody Yellowstone guide, or check out everything you can see and do during your visit.