Yellowstone Needs a Do-Over. Here’s Why Travelers Should Put Yellowstone and Cody Back on Their Bucket Lists in 2023
With anniversary events, robust lodging and attraction bookings inside and outside the park and widespread enthusiasm for travel of all kinds, as the most brutal impacts of the pandemic began to wane, expectations were high.
Then, the historic flooding of June 13 happened, immediately quashing that euphoria and forcing the park and surrounding communities as well as travelers to rethink their plans and their operations.
Characterizing the devastating floods as a 500-year-flood event, the National Park Service (NPS) quickly launched a series of responsive initiatives, prioritizing the safety of visitors and employees. Once all humans were accounted for, NPS assessed the damage and began a series of repairs. The South Loop of the park – which can be accessed through the East Gate from Cody – was reopened in just one week and two days after the floods. The northern regions of the 2.2 million-acre park were far more impacted, however, and those roads remained closed.
In an incredible example of cooperation and commitment, NPS along with gateway communities like Cody and other partners worked to help the most-impacted populations. Just two days after the floods, NPS had begun assessing the road damage to the northern entrance, and engineers soon began working on plans. Construction projects were launched all over the park, and the race was on to reopen most operations while at the same time designing and constructing sustainable improvements. By the time the Northeast Entrance Road and the North Entrance Road reopened in October, however, the park was gearing down for winter.
Located 52 miles from the East Gate to Yellowstone, Cody did not experience any damage to its infrastructure. Like all of Greater Yellowstone, however, visitation to Cody was negatively impacted, with immediate
post-flood cancellations and a season that never really recovered.
“While we never experienced the flooding here in Cody, we watched with awe and a great deal of respect as so many professionals from the National Park Service and elsewhere gave recovery efforts everything they had,” said Ryan Hauck, executive director of Cody Yellowstone, the marketing arm for the region that includes the towns of Cody, Powell and Meeteetse, Shoshone National Forest and a large swath of Yellowstone National Park. “Although we’ll probably be talking about the floods for the rest of our lives, Cody Yellowstone has recovered from Mother Nature’s wrath before. We’re ready to welcome visitors and show them all the reasons why Cody Yellowstone is still a bucket-list-level destination.”
Here are 10 reasons travelers should put Cody Yellowstone back on their bucket list in 2023.
- World’s first national park. It’s still the world’s first national park, and there’s no other place like Yellowstone.
- Wildlife galore. The free-roaming wildlife of the park don’t mind you spying on them (as long as you keep a safe distance), and it’s the only destination in the Lower 48 with so many different species.
- Wild West. Cody is frequently called one of the top Western destinations to visit, and even as it’s grown, it’s remained a little wild.
- Otherworldly geothermal features. This is the only place on Earth where you can see such a vast array of geothermal features including hot springs, geysers, mudpots and paintpots, fumeroles and travertine terraces.
- Dude ranches. These beloved, often all-inclusive destinations feature the best of everything in the region, including horseback riding, fishing, cowboy food, cowboy music and, well, cowboys. What’s not to love?
- Lodging choices galore. For the non-dude ranchers out there, there are campgrounds for tents and RVs, luxury hotels, historic hotels, budget hotels, bed-and-breakfasts, cabins and other accommodations in Cody as well as in the park.
- Outdoorsy. Anyone who loves to hike, fish, climb or raft will find plenty of places to feed their adventurous spirits both outside and inside the park.
- Rodeo. Cody is the Rodeo Capital of the World. Buffalo Bill Cody wouldn’t have wanted it any other way.
- Culture. One of the most acclaimed museums in the West is in Cody – the Smithsonian-affiliated Buffalo Bill Center of the West. And that’s just one of many options in the historic town.
- Art. Surrounded by some of the most iconic landscapes in the West, it’s no wonder so many artists make their home in Cody Yellowstone. Visitors can see their creations at art-centric places like the Cody Country Art League, By Western Hands Museum & Gallery and at the art galleries that line Sheridan Ave., Cody’s main street.
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