In my office overlooking Cody Yellowstone, I am in the position of offering all sorts of tips for vacation planners.
There are countless ways to visit our region and so many things on which to focus that I like to treat each request for information differently. Some folks are looking for help on everything from accommodations and meals to attractions and activities while others just want to know where to find pull-through sites for their Class A Winnebago.
I have developed a short list that I call “Corrie’s Tips to not Fritter and Waste Your Hours in an Offhand Way.” Here they are:
- Take the time off in the first place. Workers in the United States leave way too much vacation time on the table, according to the U.S. Travel Association. While people may think they are indispensable or that their employers will think they are slackers if they are not at work all the time, studies show that time off helps people be more productive and is good for their health and minds.
- Take into account distances. The atlas that devotes a page to each state can be pretty misleading. The drive across Illinois on Interstate 80 is significantly shorter than Wyoming’s.
- Plan the most interesting route. With two designated Scenic Byways (Buffalo Bill and Chief Joseph) between Cody and Yellowstone National Park, you can enjoy forests, valleys, mountain passes and historical stops that confirm that the journey is a major part of the vacation.
- Budget enough time for town. It’s not uncommon for our returning visitors to build in extra time because they simply did not realize when they visited the first time there was so much to see and do. History buffs might come for the Buffalo Bill Museum at the Buffalo Bill Center of the West and not realize that they should also check out the Heart Mountain WWII Interpretive Center and the Old Trail Town & Museum of the Old West. Those who are adventure-oriented may want to enjoy hiking, mountain biking, whitewater rafting and some of the world’s best trout fishing.
- Budget enough time for the park. At close to 2.2 million acres, Yellowstone is bigger than the states of Delaware and Rhode Island combined. Don’t be like the people who drive through the park in a single day with a stop to watch Old Faithful erupt. Stay overnight in the park or make multiple day trips. Either way, there are too many hikes to take, visitor centers to visit, wildlife to watch and thermal features to learn about in a single day.
- Choose your timing. If you want to experience our acclaimed Cody Nite Rodeo, schedule your vacations between June 1 and August 31. Many attractions are open year-round. Park roads are all open to wheeled vehicles in summer while most of the park is open only to over-the-snow vehicles in winter. During early spring and late fall it’s best to check on road closures.
- Figure out transportation. For road-trippers, getting there is part of the fun. The American West is home to historical sites and markers, expansive landscapes and an array of wildlife, which can often be viewed from pull-outs or alongside roads. Vacationers who prefer to fly will find daily flights to the Yellowstone Regional Airport, located five minutes from town.
- Leave some time to relax. Many people think that they need to fill up every waking moment, but that approach results in stress, fatigue and various activities all running together. I recommend slowing down to eat an ice cream cone, watch bald eagles and listen to local music such as Dan Miller’s Cowboy Music Revue.
Until next week, I am lovin’ – and having the time of – my life in Cody Yellowstone.