Discover the History of Cody, Wyoming

The gateway to Yellowstone National Park, Cody, Wyoming, is a small city with a big heart known for its breathtaking scenery, rich history, and world-class attractions that draw visitors from all over the globe.


Cody Yellowstone: The Home of Buffalo Bill

Founded in 1896 by the living legend Colonel William F. “Buffalo Bill” Cody, the modern-day city of Cody exists as a vibrant legacy of its namesake. Undertaking the task of settling an entire town at just 41 years old, Buffalo Bill was one of the most famous men in the world at the time, variously known for his exploits as a Pony Express rider, scout, hunter, and entrepreneur, with a level of showmanship that earned the admiration and friendship of presidents and kings, senators and governors, and many of the country’s most influential business people.

Cody Yellowstone Throughout History

Wildly beautiful and awe-inspiring, Cody, Wyoming, has long been a source of interest for intrepid explorers, artists, curious geologists, and adventuresome travelers.

  • 1896 – Buffalo Bill Cody founded the town of Cody in Wyoming, just 50 miles from Yellowstone National Park. 
  • 1902 – President Theodore Roosevelt visits Cody and Yellowstone. 
  • 1915 – The Buffalo Bill Museum and Grave open in Cody. 
  • 1918 – The Cody Stampede, an annual rodeo and celebration, begins. 
  • 1929 – The Cody Yellowstone Airport opens. 
  • 1951 – The Buffalo Bill Dam is completed. 
  • 1960 – The Heart Mountain Interpretive Center opens in Cody. 
  • 1966 – The Buffalo Bill Reservoir is completed. 
  • 1973 – The Cody Nite Rodeo begins. 
  • 2003 – The Buffalo Bill Center of the West opens in Cody. 

Western Hospitality & The Spirit of Cody Yellowstone: What is Cody, Wyoming, Known For?

Widely known for its proximity to Yellowstone National Park, Cody also boasts spectacular outdoor recreation, exciting Western history, and an acclaimed museum. Perhaps the greatest asset of Cody, though, is its spirit of individual accomplishment, western hospitality, honesty, and friendliness, instilled in early settlers by the “Old Scout” himself and prevailing still today on the streets and in the homes of Cody Country people. Ever an authentic embodiment of the Old West, some favorite ways to experience Cody’s history and culture include:

1. The Buffalo Bill Center of the West

A must-see attraction for anyone visiting Cody Yellowstone, the Buffalo Bill Center of the West is a world-class museum that showcases the life and legacy of Buffalo Bill Cody, the American West, and the art and culture of the region. Just as Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show once captured the international public’s imagination, this museum named in his honor offers visitors insight into his accomplishments and deep love for this land. 

 2. Yellowstone: The First National Park

Within Cody Yellowstone’s borders are more than 2 million acres of natural wonders, outdoor adventures, and geological hotspots in the world’s first national park. Signed into law by President Ulysses S. Grant on March 1, 1872, Yellowstone National Park’s history is rooted in conservation and was founded by Congress as a means to protect the area for generations to come.

3. Shoshone: The First National Forest

An integral part of Cody, Wyoming, Shoshone National Forest offers 2.4 million acres of rugged backcountry to explore. Named for the Shoshani people who have called this land their ancestral home for thousands of years, the forest is home to more than 1.4 million acres of congressionally designated wilderness, including alpine lakes, campgrounds, and mountain biking trails.  

How Big is Cody, Wyoming, and How Can You Get There?

Cody, Wyoming, is 52 miles east of the east entrance to Yellowstone National Park and 81 miles south of the northeast entrance to the park. The area is accessible by air from its closest airport, Yellowstone Regional Airport (COD), or by ground within reasonable driving distance of other major cities in the region, including Billings, MT, Casper, WY, and Denver, CO.