Here’s What to Do in Cody Yellowstone if You Only Have a Day
CODY, Wyo., June 7, 2023 – While Cody Yellowstone is a destination that is best savored slowly and immersively, the reality of limited vacation time means that some visitors will only have a day to explore the Wild West town of Cody and the surrounding area to the East of Yellowstone National Park.
There’s good news though, because even one day in Cody can provide vacationers with an array of experiences and adventures no matter what their interests.
“With a diversity of experiences from wild outdoor adventures to cultural attractions, even one day exploring Cody can add richness, depth – and a whole lot of great photo ops – to any Western vacation,” said Ryan Hauck, executive director of Cody Yellowstone. “There are huge range of experiences for outdoorsy travelers, families, art- and history-lovers and vacationers who want a true taste of the Wild West.”
Here are some ideas for a what to do and where to dine for a memorable day in Cody Yellowstone.
If Getting Dirty is in your DNA
Hike, drive or paddle the day away for a full day of outside fun.
Go off-roading in a UTV in the Cody Yellowstone backcountry. Rent a Utility Vehicles from Treads N Trails for an off-road adventure on more than 60 miles of trails in some of Cody Yellowstone’s remote locations such as McCullough Peaks, Spirit Mountain, Oregon Basin, Red Lakes, Clarks Fork Canyon, Chief Joseph Scenic Byway and Kirwin Ghost Town.
Hike. There are more than 1,100 miles of mapped trails in Yellowstone as well as numerous trails in and around the town of Cody.
Raft, paddle or go boating. There are several places in the region where travelers can raft and paddle the day away. Multiple outfitters offer rafting trips on the scenic Shoshone River. Located just a few miles from downtown Cody, the Buffalo Bill Reservoir in Buffalo Bill State Park features boating, and it is a hot spot for windsurfing too.
For lunch or dinner, enjoy a leisurely picnic. Food tastes even better when you’re outside, and there are numerous places like campgrounds and parks to enjoy a picnic lunch or supper throughout the region. Cody restaurants such as Annie’s Soda Saloon & Café can pack a complete picnic for vacationers on the go.
If You’re a Student of Culture, History and Art
There’s a reason Cody Yellowstone has been called one of the Best Historic Towns and a top art town. This tiny town with a full-time population of only 10,000 offers a surprisingly huge array of choices for art, history and culture fans. Here are some ideas:
Buffalo Bill Center of the West. Plan to spend several hours at this world-renowned cultural and educational facility with five museums under one roof. Frequently named one of the top Western art museums, the Whitney Western Art Museum features works by famous Western artists such as Charlie Russell, Frederic Remington, Thomas Moran and many others. From a window in the museum, visitors can see the dramatic sculpture by famed sculptress Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney of Buffalo Bill Cody astride his steed. Other museums include the Plains Indian Museum, Buffalo Bill Museum, Draper Natural History Museum and Cody Firearms Museum.
By Western Hands Museum & Gallery. Don’t miss this non-profit attraction that showcases Western design and functional art. With galleries, exhibits and workshop space, the destination is dedicated to preserving Western functional art and design by highlighting the work of Western artists of the past and present.
Cody Trolley Tour. The one-hour Cody Trolley Tour is guided by fun and funny guides who tell stories of Cody’s Wild West past as well as some of the town’s historic landmarks.
Old Trail Town/Museum of the West. This fascinating attraction features an enclave of 27 authentic buildings that have been moved from throughout the region and restored and reassembled to mimic an Old West town. Structures include Butch Cassidy’s Hole in the Wall Cabin. There’s also a cemetery that includes mountain man Jeremiah Johnston’s grave.
Dine at the Irma Hotel. Built by Buffalo Bill Cody and named for his daughter Irma, the Irma Hotel offers a prime rib buffet dinner that has been called the best prime rib in Wyoming. Have a pre-dinner cocktail at the Cherrywood bar in the dining room. It was gifted to Buffalo Bill by England’s Queen Victoria after he performed his Wild West Show for her Golden Jubilee.
If You Love Cowboy Culture
In Cody, it’s perfectly acceptable to wear your cowboy boots and hats with pride. In fact, we encourage it. Here are some places you’ll feel right at home in your Western attire:
Pahaska Tepee. Located near the East Entrance to Yellowstone National Park, Pahaska Tepee was Buffalo Bill Cody’s original hunting lodge. Here he hosted royalty and other famous guests with hunts by day and tall tales in the evening. You can explore the hunting lodge, which has been carefully preserved with original artifacts. Then have lunch at the restaurant and explore the gift shop, jammed full of authentic art as well as vacation keepsakes.
Go horseback riding. Cody Yellowstone is home to the Dude Ranch Association and close to 14 dude and guest ranches. Multiple outfitters and numerous horse-centric establishments offer pony rides, trail rides or multi-day horse-packing trips perfect for multi-generational equestrian fun.
Stay at a dude or guest ranch. Located in some of the most picturesque spots throughout the region, dude or guest ranch vacations bring out the inner cowboy in everyone. Guests can fish – often in the ranch’s own private waters – as well as horseback ride, hike and simply relax in cozy cabins and lodges. Many ranch vacations are all-inclusive and include hearty meals as well as excursions to Yellowstone National Park and in the town of Cody.
Buffalo Bill Dam & Visitor Center. The brainchild of Buffalo Bill Cody, the Buffalo Bill Dam supplies water to the town and the region’s farmers. The tallest dam in the world when it was completed in 1910, a visitor center features a variety of exhibits that show how the dam was built and illustrate the dam’s continuing importance today.
Buffalo Bill Museum. The Buffalo Bill Museum in the Buffalo Bill Center of the West is chock full of artifacts and details about the storied life of Buffalo Bill Cody. The museum includes state-of-the-art exhibits as well as authentic displays about the legendary entertainer’s Wild West Show days.
Wild Bunch Show. The nightly Wild Bunch show is entertaining for the whole family, with locals dressed in old-timey costumes performing silly skits about the crazy days of the Wild West.
Cody Cattle Company. This popular chuckwagon dinner and musical show is the place to be if you love songs about the open range and authentic Western food.
Cody Nite Rodeo. Cody is the Rodeo Capital of the World, and the Cody Nite Rodeo is the only nightly summer-season rodeo out there. Fun for the whole family, the Cody Nite Rodeo features a variety of rodeo contests and performances by enthusiastic cowboys and cowgirls.
If You Want a Day of Unplugged Fun with the Kids
Families seeking a day of screen-free fun will find lots of choices in Cody Yellowstone including in-town adventures and outdoor fun along the road to Yellowstone.
Sweet treats. Delight the kids with a stop at the Cowtown Candy Company, the largest candy store in Northwest Wyoming.
Ice cream. Stop at the new Bigg Chill ice cream parlor in downtown Cody. With 16 flavors including classic flavors and adventurous combinations, there’s an ice cream treat for everyone. (Pro tip for the grown-ups: try something from the Boozy Delight Series, featuring blended ice cream and a splash of spirits.)
Raptor Experience. Fun for the whole family, the Raptor Experience at the Buffalo Bill Center of the West features live raptors such as bald eagle, golden eagle and peregrine falcon. Knowledgeable staffers give audiences an up-close look at these impressive birds of prey.
Draper Natural History Museum. This is the best place for families to learn all about Yellowstone National Park – its sights, sounds and even smells. There’s even a kid-friendly scavenger hunt that leads visitors through the Greater Yellowstone ecosystem.
Chuckwagon Dinner. Located at the Buffalo Bill Center of the West, families will enjoy an authentic Dutch oven dinner with steak, biscuits, beans and a cobbler dessert. Guests can even help with the cooking if they’d like.
For even more ideas on how to experience Cody Yellowstone if you only have a day, visit www.codyyellowstone.org.
Home of the Great American Adventure, Cody Yellowstone is comprised of the northwestern Wyoming towns of Cody, Powell and Meeteetse as well as areas inside of Yellowstone National Park and the valley east of the entrance. 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