12 Things to do in Yellowstone Country this Winter
CODY, Wyo., November 18, 2016 – Although the rodeo cowboys have hung up their spurs for the season and the bears have lumbered to their dens, Buffalo Bill’s Cody/Yellowstone Country is still vibrant during the winter season, when the northwestern Wyoming region offers an array of authentic, one-of-a-kind indoor and outdoor Western experiences.
“When Cody is cloaked in snow and ice, it becomes a wonderland full of intriguing, informative, physically challenging and just-plain-fun experiences and adventures,” said Claudia Wade, director of the Park County Travel Council, the marketing arm for Buffalo Bill’s Cody/Yellowstone Country. “Although some activities are available year-round, they become quieter and more intimate during the winter season, which encourages visitors to linger and immerse themselves in our authentic corner of Wyoming.”
Wade said that some of Cody’s frequent visitors plan their trips during the winter when they can spend hours exploring places like the acclaimed Buffalo Bill Center of the West and Heart Mountain WW II Interpretive Center.
Yellowstone Country is comprised of the towns of Cody, Powell and Meeteetse as well as the valley east of Yellowstone National Park and surrounding areas.
Here are 12 things to do in Yellowstone Country this winter:
1 – Ski Sleeping Giant. Located west of Cody near the east gate of Yellowstone National Park, Sleeping Giant Ski Area has 184 skiable acres with a total of 49 runs, a base elevation of 6,619 feet, vertical drop of 810 feet and an average snowfall of 150 inches. Summer-season visitors can experience the Sleeping Giant zip line, which opened earlier this year. Regular season ski passes are $350 for adults.
2 – Visit a Western treasure, the Buffalo Bill Center of the West. The Buffalo Bill Center of the West (BBCW) was founded in 1917 to preserve the legacy and vision of Buffalo Bill Cody, and it is the oldest and most comprehensive museum of the West. It is comprised of five separate museums: the Buffalo Bill Museum, Plains Indian Museum, Whitney Gallery of Western Art, Cody Firearms Museum and the Draper Museum of Natural History. The facility also includes the Harold McCracken Research Library. BBCW is open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Thursdays through Sundays during the months of December, January and February.
3 – Climb a waterfall. One of the highest concentrations of waterfall ice climbing in the U.S. is located along the South Fork of the Shoshone River just outside of Cody, and climbers from around the world travel to Cody to test their skills. Non-climbers are welcome to watch as the artful athletes make their slow treks up the ice. The 19th-annual Cody Ice Festival is scheduled for Feb. 10-12, and offers clinics for beginners, advanced climbers and women only.
4 – Put yourself in someone else’s shoes. Visit the award-winning Heart Mountain WWII Interpretive Center, a Japanese internment camp which once housed nearly 14,000 Japanese-American citizens during World War II. This stop is especially poignant in the winter as visitors can truly appreciate the conditions endured by its Japanese-American residents. The Interpretive Center includes an exhibit depicting the typical barracks-style accommodations.
5 – Try some Nordic skiing. There are more than 30 miles of groomed ski trails between Sleeping Giant Ski Area and Pahaska Tepee Resort at Yellowstone’s eastern gate. Enjoy the quiet solitude of the forest and watch for wildlife. Skiers can bring their own lunches or purchase a hot lunch at the Grizzly Grill located in the friendly lodge at Sleeping Giant. Cross country skis can be rented in town.
6 – Ski and stay overnight in the Yellowstone Country wilderness. The Wood River Valley Ski Touring Park operated by the Meeteetse Recreation District and located 22 miles southwest of Meeteetse offers more than 15 miles of groomed trails ranging from the gentle South Fork Trail to the challenging Brown Creek Trail. There is also a cabin on the South Fork Trail available for overnight lodging. There is no fee for skiing, but donations are encouraged to support trail maintenance. There is a minimum cabin donation of $30 per night and a two-night reservation limit.
7 – Watch the skaters. Winter enthusiasts who enjoy watching winter sports may take in a Yellowstone Quake Hockey Team game. A non-profit, community-based organization, this Tier III Junior A hockey team is comprised of skilled players under the age of 20 who are preparing for advancement to a college program or other professional opportunities. The team plays at the Victor J. Riley Arena, and games are scheduled through mid-February, with 22 home games. Tickets are $10 at the door.
8 – Be a skater. Outdoor ice-skating is available at Homesteader Park in Powell, and indoor skating is offered at the Victor J. Riley Arena and Community Events Center in Cody. Both locations provide ice skate rentals. Admission is $5 and skate rentals are $2. There is also outdoor skating at Homesteader Park, equipped with night lighting and a warming house. Skate rentals and concessions are available on the weekends.
9 – Ride a sled. Winter adventurers who like to feel the rush of cool air on their faces will find a special thrill in Yellowstone Country. There are plenty of places to explore throughout the forestlands outside the park borders on snowmobiles. Gary Fales Outfitting provides winter snowmobile excursions through Yellowstone’s East Entrance.
10 – Catch – and release – a trout. Yellowstone Country features some of the best blue-ribbon trout stream fishing in North America, and the fish do not know it is winter. Professional fishing guides and outfitters accommodate anglers of any ability.
11 – Shoot replicas of the guns shot by Buffalo Bill Cody. The new Cody Firearms Experience offers travelers a unique history lesson as well as a chance to test shooting skills. Guests shoot replicas of guns like the Indian Trade Musket and Colt Model 1873 Single Action Army Revolver in a state-of-the-art indoor shooting range. Packages start at $39, and special online pricing is available.
12 – Take a hike. Depending on the level of snow and the location, it is possible to enjoy a cold-weather hike with snowshoes or regular hiking boots. Cody Pathways is a system of multi-use trails surrounding the town. Travelers need not go far before they are in prime wildlife viewing territory. The road from Cody to the East Entrance of Yellowstone is full of wildlife-viewing opportunities. It is not unusual to spot moose, bison, elk, eagles and big horn sheep.
Yellowstone Country is comprised of the towns of Cody, Powell and Meeteetse as well as the valley east of Yellowstone National Park. Cody is the only Yellowstone gateway with access to two entrances.
The area of Park County is called “Buffalo Bill’s Cody/Yellowstone Country” because it was the playground of Buffalo Bill Cody himself. Buffalo Bill founded the town of Cody in 1896, and the entire region was driven and is still heavily influenced by the vision of the Colonel. Today its broad streets, world-class museum Buffalo Bill Center of the West and thriving western culture host nearly 1 million visitors annually.
The Park County Travel Council website lists information about vacation packages, special events, guide services, weather and more. Travelers wishing to arrange vacation can also call the Park County Travel Council at 1-800-393-2639 or connect with Cody on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter or Pinterest.