Cody on a Budget
We all have that friend. The one you avoid including in group dinners because he tracks how many fried green tomatoes each diner eats and then insists on splitting the price of the appetizer platter for the table by consumption. He never picks up a round of sloe gin fizzes. And his regifting skills are legendary.
I have one of those friends. He’s my big brother, and he’s coming to visit this summer. My brother asked me to plan several days of fun in Yellowstone Country that are budget-friendly, keeping in mind that the budget-friendliest of all activities are those that don’t involve opening a wallet. Those were his words. I’m not kidding.
I’ve got this, I told him. In Cody Yellowstone Country, it’s easy to plan several days of fun by enjoying the many free and moderately priced adventures in the region.
Here’s my plan.
One morning, we’ll take a drive (in my car burning my gas, of course) along the Buffalo Bill Scenic Highway and look for “Snoopy the Dog” and “Laughing Pig Rock.” The road that travels to the east entrance of Yellowstone features a bunch of weird rock formations that have been imaginatively named by locals.
We’ll stop and take a free tour of Pahaska Tepee near the entrance to Yellowstone. This is where Buffalo Bill went to relax with friends. It’s also a great place to spot moose and other wildlife.
On the return trip to Cody, we’ll stop at the Buffalo Bill Dam Visitor Center and see the remarkable dam up close. Buffalo Bill knew that water was essential for a thriving town, and he convinced the government to build the dam to supply water to Cody and ranches throughout the region. My brother is a civil engineer. He’s gonna love this.
That night we’ll watch the wacky Wild Bunch perform a gunfight with a safety message. This 30-minute show outside the Irma Hotel is supremely entertaining. You can reserve a seat for $2 through Cody Trolley Tours, but we’ll just try to get there early to claim one of the free seats on the Irma Hotel porch. The best way to watch the Wild Bunch is while sipping on an adult beverage from the Irma Hotel’s Silver Saddle Saloon. Maybe they’ll have a two-for-one deal on sloe gin fizzes that day.
Big brother loves museums and galleries, so he’ll be pleased to learn there are a bunch of places in Yellowstone Country that don’t have an entrance fee. The Cody Country Art League displays fine Western art created by local artists. The Cody Dug Up Gun Museum is a fun and funky museum with weapons from many periods in American history. And then we’ll head to the nearby town of Meeteetse and check out the Meeteetse Museums, including the Bank Museum, Charles Belden Museum of Western Photography and Meeteetse Museum. If we’re lucky we’ll be there on a day when the Museums are hosting one of their free tours like the Legend Rock Tour.
While we’re in Meeteetse we’ll stop at the Meeteetse Chocolatier to check out the latest display of homemade truffles and other treats. I can’t resist the prickly pear cactus truffle. Maybe they’ll have a two-for-one deal.
Then we’ll head back to Cody to check out the recently renovated Historic Cody Mural and Museum, which depicts scenes of the early history of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. The museum also includes items brought to Wyoming by Mormon pioneers.
We’ll do that on a Thursday and return to Cody in time for the free Thursday-night concert in Cody’s City Park. I’ll pack a picnic dinner.
I’m also hoping to entice my brother with a few moderately priced adventures like the Buffalo Bill Center of the West, where one price — $19.50 for adults – will get you into the museum for two consecutive days to explore the Whitney Western Art Museum, Cody Firearms Museum, Draper Natural History Museum, Plains Indians Museum and Buffalo Bill Museum. I just hope he doesn’t try to use his old student ID. Again.
My brother is a student of history, so we’ll also visit the Heart Mountain WW II Interpretive Center where 14,000 Japanese-American citizens were incarcerated following Japan’s bombing of Pearl Harbor in 1941. A ticket for adults is only $7.
The cheapskate gene seems to have missed me. After a few days of hanging out with my financially stingy brother, I’ll be needing to splurge. I’ll wave goodbye as he drives off in his 12-year-old Subaru and head straight to town for some retail therapy, and my options are plentiful. I’ve had my eye on a couple of leather belts in the Irma Hotel gift shop. Maybe they’ll have a two-for-one deal.
Until next time I’m counting my pennies and loving life here in Cody Yellowstone Country.