So much happens here in Cody Yellowstone when June arrives.
The lights go on at the rodeo grounds, and the Cody Nite Rodeo starts entertaining visitors and introducing new generations to bull riding, calf roping, barrel racing and Dolly Parton jokes.
The Cody Gunfighters put on a play that is equal parts shoot-em-up, gun safety and “photo opps.”
Dan Miller and his Cowboy Music Revue combine terrific acoustic music with Western humor and the occasional dash of cowboy poetry.
The dude and guest ranches saddle up the horses, bake the beans and remind parents that there aren’t apps for the things that truly bring families together.
A common theme I hear on my near-daily jaunts down Sheridan Avenue is that people want to try new activities. More people than I can count have cast their first flies on one of our lakes or rivers. The biggest thrill for folks from Florida is often finding a patch of snow and throwing a snowball in June. Shopping for a cowboy hat is a new experience for those not old enough to remember when Urban Cowboy came out.
One of my favorite activities – and one where I am practically guaranteed to find first-timers – is to put on my quick-dry clothes, sandals and head to the river.
And this year is a good one throughout the West.
Whitewater rafting outfitters are excited about the amount of snow that built up in the mountains from New Mexico all the way to the Canadian border. We don’t count on rain around here. Instead we look for the snowpack to melt and fill up the reservoirs (like the one created by the Buffalo Bill Dam) so that we have irrigation for our crops, drinking water and rapids for rafting trips.
Here in Cody Yellowstone we have a couple of trips that I love with day trips on two sections of the Shoshone River above and below the Buffalo Bill Dam just outside of town to the west. Rafting begins in early May and continues throughout summer and fall.
Rafting the Upper Portion of the North Fork of the Shoshone River: In early May rafters launch five miles east of Yellowstone National Park and head east on the North Fork of the Shoshone River toward Buffalo Bill State Park where the river’s South and North Forks feed the Buffalo Bill Reservoir. The North Fork narrows in places to 35-45 feet wide with Class III-IV rapids. Flows are typically in the 5-6,000 (cubic feet per second) cfs range, and most years the rafting lasts well into June, although we have seen hosted trips as late as Aug. 1.
Rafting the Shoshone River Below the Dam: Subject to water being released from the Buffalo Bill Dam, cfs levels pick up as the temperatures warm up. Trips depart minutes from the rodeo grounds and actually go through town, although the canyon walls prevent people from seeing all but a few buildings. This trip can be extended to total 12 miles and conclude in the Lower Canyon of the river. Both trips offer excellent opportunities for novices and intermediates to gain experience on “solid Class III” rapids.
You don’t have to spend a lifetime searching for that new activity. Chances are it’s right here.
Until next week, I am lovin’ life – and monitoring the snowpack – in Cody Yellowstone.