For the Best Yellowstone Vacation, Start in Cody
Cody, Wyo., March 10, 2016 – The best way to appreciate a Yellowstone vacation is to start it in Cody, Wyo., the wildest way in to the world’s first national park.
A trip to the Yellowstone region is always an eye-opener, and it is typical for each traveler to return home with different perspectives and indelible memories. With so many natural attractions and so much history, the region has been incredibly popular among vacationers for decades.
“Not only is Cody the wildest way into Yellowstone, with scenic and historic routes into the park and the promise of plentiful wildlife and spectacular Western landscapes, it is also like a one-stop resource for extensive Yellowstone information,” said Claudia Wade, executive director of the Park County Travel Council, the tourism marketing arm of the region. “Vacationers who explore Cody before they head into the park will have a better and more comprehensive understanding of what to see, experience and expect in Yellowstone.”
The first stop Wade recommends is to go to the Buffalo Bill Center of the West and head to the Draper Natural History Museum. At the Draper’s top level, people can look at a floor map of the region that helps them get their bearings and see where Cody, Park County, the park and the whole Yellowstone ecosystem fit together. From that top level are ramps that go down in a counter clockwise pattern with interpretive displays on specific topics such as the area’s wildlife, how forest fires are actually good for the environment, native peoples of the region and the reintroduction of wolves to the Yellowstone ecosystem.
Wade suggests that visitors spend time exploring all five museums under the Buffalo Bill Center of the West roof. They learn about Buffalo Bill Cody where the recently renovated Buffalo Bill Museum does a terrific job of presenting his life and adventures. There’s also the Plains Indians Museum, Whitney Western Art Museum and Cody Firearms Museum. Visitors are typically amazed with the quality of the museum in such a small town.
After the BBCW, Wade recommends the Cody Trolley Tour for a one-hour, 22-mile tour that is a great way to get acquainted with the town and travel the first few miles on one of two roads to Yellowstone. Lively narrators tell the compelling story of William F. “Buffalo Bill” Cody and showcase the town he created. Participants learn about the town as it was more than 100 years ago, how the dam changed agriculture in the region, what it took to drill tunnels and create the road and more.
The road between Cody, Wyo. to the East Entrance of Yellowstone National Park is 52 miles and runs along the north fork of the Shoshone River. From the town of Cody visitors take Yellowstone Avenue west through a ¾-mile-long tunnel and past the Buffalo Bill Reservoir, Buffalo Bill State Park, rock formations and lava flows and through the Shoshone National Forest. Once inside the forest, the highway is designated the Buffalo Bill Cody Scenic Byway and is noted for its abundant wildlife.
The area is also home to a dozen guest ranches offering overnight accommodations, fishing, horseback riding and other activities. The last stop before the entrance to Yellowstone is Pahaska Tepee, the hunting lodge of Buffalo Bill Cody.
The second optioninto the park is just as spectacular with expansive views and even more opportunities to view wildlife, culminating in a drive through “America’s Serengeti,” better known as Yellowstone’s Lamar Valley. The Chief Joseph Scenic Byway features sights like the single-span Sunlight Creek Bridge, the highest bridge in Wyoming and Dead Indian Pass overlook area where the Nez Perce tribe outran the U.S. Cavalry for several months in 1877. History buffs should also consider taking a side trip on the Sunlight Basin Road (a gravel road) to see the Sunlight Ranger Station, a Civilian Conservation Corps structure built in 1936. Travelers will enter Montana and drive through the small towns of Cooke City and Silver Gate before entering the park. It is typical to see bison and elk in this valley and not uncommon to spot wolves, bears, coyote, bighorn sheep, moose and a wide variety of birds.
Yellowstone Country is comprised of the towns of Cody, Powell and Meeteetse as well as the valley east of Yellowstone National Park.
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.