21 Surprising and Memorable Adventures in Cody and Yellowstone National Park for 2021
CODY, Wyo., Oct. 28, 2020 – As the small northwestern Wyoming town of Cody prepares for its 125th anniversary next year, people around the country are going to be spending some of the winter ahead dreaming about the first place they want to visit when they are ready to travel again.
There are a plenty of reasons beyond the town’s anniversary for those travelers to choose Cody and nearby Yellowstone National Park – wide open spaces that make social distancing a breeze, an array of outdoor experiences, authenticity and history among them – and there are also numerous surprises in store at this classic vacation destination.
“Our corner of Wyoming has aged remarkably well since the town’s imaginative founder, Buffalo Bill Cody, decided to build a town here,” said Claudia Wade, director of the Park County Travel Council, the marketing arm for the region that includes the towns of Cody, Meeteetse and Powell as well as the valley east of Yellowstone National Park. “While most people already know a little about Yellowstone, and they’ve probably heard that Cody is the rodeo capital of the world, there are many other surprising adventures to discover here.”
Buffalo Bill Cody passed through the Bighorn Basin for the first time in the 1870s, and it was then that he decided the combination of scenery, wildlife and rich soil as well as the location 52 miles east of Yellowstone would be a perfect spot for a tourism-focused frontier town. After winding down the international performances of his famous Wild West Show, Cody returned to the region and began scoping sites and seeking investors. The town was founded in 1896 and incorporated in 1901.
Wade noted that the region is anticipating another big anniversary in 2022: the 150th anniversary of Yellowstone National Park. After hearing reports from returning expeditions of explorers and viewing paintings, photographs and sketches showing the wonders of the region, the United States Congress established Yellowstone National Park. President Ulysses S. Grant signed the Yellowstone National Park Protection Act into law on March 1, 1872.
Here are 21 surprising and fun experiences awaiting travelers during a 2021 visit to Cody Yellowstone:
- Learn about a famous Wild West love triangle – Visit the gravesites at Old Trail Town and learn about the tragic conclusion of one of Wyoming’s most famous love triangles between “soiled dove” Belle Drewry and cowboys William Gallagher and Bill Wheaton. The sordid tale in summary: Gallagher loved Drewry, Wheaton loved Drewry, Wheaton killed Gallagher and his friend “Blind Bill” Hoolihan. Belle Drewry will be murdered three years later.
- Watch a saddle-maker create a functional work of art – Visit an authentic saddle shop at the Buffalo Bill Center of the West and watch a master saddler create stunning and functional leather saddles. It’s harder than you think.
- Be inspired at the Heart Mountain WWII Interpretive Center Honor Roll. Although the U.S. government stripped thousands of Japanese-Americans of their freedom and the rights of their U.S. citizenship at
confinement camps during World War II, these young men were still expected to fight in the war. The military honor roll at Heart Mountain WWII Interpretive Center – which includes a monument and interpretive trail – lists the names of those men who served with courage and integrity while friends and families were forced to live behind the barbed wire.
- Check out the Cody Nite Rodeo. See why Cody is called the “Rodeo Capital of the World.” With nightly performances throughout the summer, this is the place to be for an authentic Western experience you’ll never forget.
- Visit a memorial dedicated to the original Mountain Man, John Colter. A member of the Lewis and Clark Expedition in the early 1800s, John Colter remained in the northwestern Wyoming mountains and became a trapper. While wandering the West he faced many challenges, such as surviving capture by members of the Blackfeet Tribe. A monument at Old Trail Town celebrates his remarkable life.
- Stroll Cody’s Sheridan Avenue. Visitors who listen to the free TravelStorys audio tour while strolling along Sheridan Avenue, Cody’s main street will learn about historic buildings such as the Irma Hotel, Buffalo Bill’s “Hotel in the Rockies,” and the Carnegie Library, founded by literary frontierswomen with a little help from Andrew Carnegie himself.
- Climb aboard and experience a Cody Trolley Tour. Interactive and entertaining, this hour-long tour introduces passengers to the history of the town, traveling by landmarks such as the Buffalo Bill Dam and the Irma Hotel.
- Visit Buffalo Bill Cody’s original hunting lodge, Pahaska Tepee. Located just outside the East Gate to Yellowstone and built in 1904, Buffalo Bill brought friends and visiting dignitaries to the lodge to hunt, fish and listen to tales of his remarkable life. Visitors can stay in charming cabins, and they are often treated to sights of wandering wildlife like moose, bison, bears and even wolves.
- Meditate in a Japanese-inspired Victory Garden. Windswept, cold and bleak, Heart Mountain deeply challenged the spirits of those confined there, and almost as difficult to handle was the poor quality of food served in the mess halls. Incarceree James Ito and many others worked to improve the conditions by converting the high Wyoming desert into fertile farmland and growing vegetables more aligned with Japanese tastes. A small garden connected to the Heart Mountain WWII Interpretive Center – the inviting James O. and Toshiko Joy Nagamori Ito Victory Garden – is a place for visitors to quietly reflect upon the lessons of
- Take “the most beautiful drive in America.” That’s what legendary travel commentator Charles Kuralt called the Beartooth Highway. Situated in northern Wyoming and parts of southern Montana, this scenic byway reaches an elevation of 10,947 feet and is dotted by historic frontier towns, plunging canyons, glaciers and more.
- Learn about Thomas Molesworth’s contributions to Western Design and Functional Art. Molesworth is a giant in the world of functional art, and he got his start making Western-inspired furniture in Cody. Exhibits and special workshops at By Western Hands Museum & Gallery showcase the skills, tools and ingenuity that have inspired hundreds of artists to follow in his footsteps.
- Shoot a Gatling Gun. Visitors to the indoor shooting range at the Cody Firearms Experience can shoot replicas of a variety of guns through history under the close supervision of dedicated instructors.
- Be awed by the region’s magnificent raptors – Get up close to Amelia the Short-eared owl, Kateri the Golden eagle, Salem the American kestrel and other birds of prey during life raptor education program at the Draper Natural History Museum. Staged outside with plenty of room for social distancing, visitors can choose from a variety of programs throughout the year.
- See the hide coat worn by Buffalo Bill Cody, America’s original reality star. On display in the Buffalo Bill Museum, Buffalo Bill wore this coat made of Buffalo hide and trimmed with beaver fur while serving as a civilian scout for the U.S. Army. After becoming a national celebrity, Cody wore the coat on stage for theatrical performances where he played himself.
- View an authentic Nez Perce Tipi at the Plains Indian Museum. Plains Indians used almost every part of a bison for food, clothing, tools and shelter. The rare buffalo hide Tipi on display in the Plains Indian Museum was created from at least 13 buffalo hides, sewn by women with sinew and decorated with natural pigments.
- Cast for trout. Streams and lakes in and around Cody feature some of the country’s best trout fishing, and numerous outfitters are available to show visitors the ropes and guide them to their favorite fishing holes.
- Hike the Howard Eaton Trail to Ice Lake in Yellowstone National Park. One of hundreds of trails in and around Yellowstone, the Howard Eaton Trail to Ice Lake passes four lakes and meanders through lush forests, meadows and marshes. The hike is 10.7 miles one way.
- Park your RV at Buffalo Bill State Park. RVers will find many options in Cody Yellowstone, and one of the favorites is at Buffalo Bill State Park, situated on the life-giving reservoir created by the Buffalo Bill Dam. The park offers a variety of activities like boating and fishing as well as easy access to the town of Cody and Yellowstone National Park.
- Sing along with cowboy singer Dan Miller. The immensely popular and talented Dan Miller and his extraordinary band perform songs like “It Takes a Whole Lotta Liquor to Like Her” and “Heartaches by the Number” six nights a week from late May through September in downtown Cody.
- Savor an old-fashioned chuckwagon dinner – Every Tuesday and Saturday in the summer, visitors can watch skilled cowboy cooks at the Buffalo Bill Center of the West create a Dutch-oven masterpiece and enjoy the results – a dinner of steak, trail beans, salad, sourdough biscuits and fresh cobbler.
- Fly above the tree line at the Sleeping Giant Zipline. This five-zip summer-season adventure soars above the Sleeping Giant Ski Area includes dual zip lines so visitors can race their friends while enjoying birds’-eye views of the Bighorn Basin.
Home of the Great American Adventure, Cody Yellowstone is comprised of the northwestern Wyoming towns of Cody, Powell and Meeteetse as well as the valley east of Yellowstone National Park. The region is known for rodeos, authentic guest and dude ranches, world-class museums and recreational adventures that reflect the adventurous spirit of the visionaries and explorers who brought the remote region to the world’s attention.
Mesereau Travel Public Relations