Buffalo Bill Blog

Oct
21

Honoring the Wyoming Outdoor Hall of Fame Inductees

Living in the least densely populated state in the Lower 48, we here in Wyoming have a different perspective compared to other parts of the country. With just six people per square mile, it is easy to appreciate everything nature and the outdoors offer.

Even with the sweeping views of Yellowstone Country, seemingly unlimited trails and trout streams, ability to get away from technology and never ending experiential leisure opportunities, it is tempting to think our resources are inexhaustible.

That is hardly the case. As the state with the country’s first national park, first national forest and first national monument, Wyoming has a long history of conservation and of forward-thinking individuals who have worked to keep the state in good condition for generations to come.

Wide open spaces are part of Cody/Yellowstone Country.

Wide open spaces are part of Cody/Yellowstone Country.

We take things so seriously that we have the Wyoming Outdoor Hall of Fame (WYOHOF) which is operated by Wyoming Wildlife – The Foundation (now a component fund of the Wyoming Community Foundation). According to its web site, this is “a charitable, non-advocacy organization dedicated to conservation education and the funding and management of projects that benefit Wyoming wildlife. Since the year 2000, we have developed many trusted partnerships that create the opportunity for you to contribute and bring projects to life. Your contributions will improve Wyoming’s greatest resource – its fish and wildlife – for the benefit of our kids and grandkids.”

Wildlife habitat protection is important for future generations.

Wildlife habitat protection is important for future generations.

This year’s inductees will be honored this weekend at our own Buffalo Bill Center of the West. The honorees, as described by Wyoming Wildlife — The Foundation, are:

Cody’s own David Sweet. Dave has been an active member of Trout Unlimited (TU) for nearly 40 years and has served in virtually every leadership position in the TU East Yellowstone Chapter, was chairman of the Wyoming Council of Trout Unlimited and currently serves as treasurer of that organization. He is also a member of the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation and Ducks Unlimited. In 2007 Dave conceived, implemented and championed the extraordinary collaborative Save the Yellowstone Cutthroat Project. He now serves as the Yellowstone Lake Special Project Manager. This ongoing project has earned national attention and is now listed as a number two priority national project by Trout Unlimited.

Abraham Archibald “A.A.” Anderson, posthumously. An artist, rancher and philanthropist who was born in 1847 and died in 1940, Anderson established a homestead on the Greybull River south of Cody. He named this 160 acre plot Palette Ranch and built a log and gypsum-mortar ranch house there. Within a few years he became frustrated by wildfires in the area which he believed were deliberately caused by out-of-state sheep men who grazed their sheep across cleared forest land. He made it his personal campaign to double the size of the Yellowstone Forest Reserve bordering Yellowstone National Park. This dream became a reality by executive order of Theodore Roosevelt in May, 1902. Roosevelt then appointed Anderson as Special Superintendent to administer both the Yellowstone and Teton Forest Reserves. He served in this capacity until 1905. He established ranks for his men similar to the military and accepted an appointment as a Game Warden of Wyoming. He named his entire staff Assistant Game Wardens, without pay to give them authority to eject poachers. At the end of his tenure, President Roosevelt reorganized the forest reserve lands surrounding the Park and established the Forest Service within the Department of Agriculture.

Protecting fisheries in Yellowstone Park as well as Cody Country is critical.

Protecting fisheries in Yellowstone Park as well as Cody Country is critical.

David C. Lockman. During his tenure as a Game and Fish wildlife biologist, Dave made significant contributions to Wyoming’s wildlife, whether it was testing new data collection techniques for big game or improved management techniques for managing waterfowl. Dave was single-handedly responsible for restoring and expanding trumpeter swan populations in Wyoming. While education supervisor with the Game and Fish Department, Dave prepared and supervised the implementation and management of more than 20 cooperative agreements with Wyoming communities, supervised the development of the Outdoor Recreation Education Opportunities program for Wyoming schools and coordinated the planning and development of more than 50 interpretive education projects, including the National Bighorn Sheep Center in Dubois, Wyoming and wildlife viewing sites across the state as part of the “Wyoming’s Wildlife-Worth the Watching” program. He developed and coordinated all facets toward the planning and execution of the first Wyoming Hunting and Fishing Heritage Exposition hosted by the department.

Until next week, I am lovin’ life – in big part because of people like this year’s WYOHOF inductees – in Cody, Wyo.

Oct
10

October is a Good Time to Roam Free in Yellowstone Country

It’s getting to be that time of year here in Yellowstone Country when a lot of my friends take a lesson from the local bears and other wildlife and start to think about nesting. The temperatures are getting a little cooler all the time, and the leaves have been dropping from the trees. Winter is coming.

I’m not one of the nesters though. This is the time of the year when I like to take long hikes and spend hours at a time fishing in one of my secret trout streams. There’s something magical about October. In the next few days, the last of the lodges in Yellowstone National Park will close so the National Park Service can prepare for the winter season. Days get shorter, and it gets a little quieter.

Absaroka Bikefitters and Backcountry Guides

But just because the trees are dropping their leaves and creating a multi-colored carpet across our valleys doesn’t mean we have to hightail it into our houses. Here are some of my favorite ways to play outside this month:

- I like to watch the wildlife in Wapiti Valley. Wildlife viewing is at its peak this time of year, with bull elk still emitting a distinctive bugling sound to get the attention of potential mates and plenty of pronghorn, bighorn sheep, deer, moose and eagles to watch as well.

- As I mentioned, I have my secret trout streams, but I like to hear about other streams too. I enjoy hanging with my pals in the fly fishing shops and seeking out new maps and advice from the many expert fishing guides in town.

Wildlife

- It’s a good time to take a rock-climbing class from one of the outfitters. With so much porous rock creating drainages and rock formations, there are plenty of places to climb, and the conditions are usually pretty good right up until the end of the month.

- I like to get out my copy of “East of Yellowstone – a Hiker’s Guide to Cody” and find a new trail I haven’t yet tried. This is a great hikers’ companion, and authors JD Tanner and Emily Ressler-Tanner did a terrific job with details about length of each hike, time, difficulty, best season, access and landowner information for about 20 different regional hikes.

October is also a great time for a return visit to two of our famous museums – the Heart Mountain Interpretive Center and Buffalo Bill Center of the West. Both have a variety of rotating exhibits so even if you’ve been there before, you’re going to see something new.

Boulder Basin

So, while some of my friends – you know who you are – have taken to watching marathon “Breaking Bad” sessions and returning to their long-neglected knitting projects, I’m still roaming around Yellowstone Country. Only with a few more layers than last month.

Until next time, I’m loving life and “falling” for Yellowstone Country.

Oct
07

Will someone please tell me how it got to be October?

I know that every week I talk about the various stages of summer, how beautiful September (or July or August) is in Yellowstone Country and how I prepared for fall several weeks too early. But, still, it wasn’t until I turned on the television and saw the major league baseball playoffs had started that I realized we were closer to Halloween than to Labor Day.

So what can we expect this month? Like everywhere else in the country, the temperatures in Cody, Wyoming and throughout the region will steadily cool down and the leaves will change. Personally, I enjoy a crisp morning and look forward to the first frost.

Fall in Cody/Yellowstone Country

A few years ago a popular Cody musician-who-shall-not-be-named gave me a denim jacket lined with sheepskin for my birthday. I love that jacket, but it is way too warm to wear until I can see my breath. The day tomato season ends is the day I go looking for that jacket. Oh, and that musician? He was a much better shopper than boyfriend.

Except for some homeschoolers and a few kids who are on crazy school schedules, most of the tourists who roam in Yellowstone Country are either older empty nesters or couples who like to travel during the more relaxed months of the season. Although I don’t have real numbers to back this claim up, it seems that travelers at this time of the year are much more likely to wander and less likely to be concerned with checking destinations off of a list.

The hotels in Yellowstone National Park as well as many of the guest ranches and campgrounds throughout this northwestern Wyoming region close for the season. As a result, I get to reconnect with many old friends who work incredibly hard and are too busy to make it into Cody during peak season. This is a special group who love the energy and excitement of seasonal work followed by several months where they get to sleep in, travel and be completely lazy. By the time spring rolls around I guarantee they will be itching to get back to work. That is a lifestyle I want to try someday.

Horses grazing in Cody/Yellowstone Country

Mountain runoff is low as we have not had heavy snows at the higher elevations yet. Anglers on the rivers and streams enjoy great trout fishing while the ice climbers begin counting the days until the waterfalls begin to freeze. There is still plenty of time for rock climbing, but I have caught more than one climber talking about our world-class ice.

I see more hunters in town. One thing I always took for granted but which surprised my friends when I lived in the big city was hunters’ respect for the environment and the rules. This is one group that understands the importance of leaving the land in better condition than they found it.

School is in session, and fall sports are a lot of fun. With our wide-open Wyoming spaces we often have to travel long distances to meet our opponents on the field. We love to carpool and caravan to away games, and I cannot tell you how often I have gotten to know people by spending time in the car with them on a Friday night or Saturday afternoon.

Mountain runoff is low as we have not had heavy snows at the higher elevations yet

The leaves change color, and the aspens and cottonwoods create a beautiful yellow tint in the stream beds and up the sides of the mountains.

We have a spectacular month ahead of us. If you don’t believe me, come see for yourself. We’ll take your car to Saturday’s game.

Until next week, I am lovin’ life – and canning tomatoes – in Cody, Wyo.

 

Sep
26

What to wear on your Cody/Yellowstone Country vacation

Following my Mother’s Advice in Cody, Wyoming

Just saw a group of people heading out a trail with their fly rods in hand wearing shorts and hiking boots with their waders slung over their shoulders. I’m sure they had Cody’s blue-ribbon trout waters on their minds.

 

Anglers enjoy the solitude of late season fishing.

Anglers enjoy the solitude of late season fishing.

Apparently, nobody told them that a vacation in Cody was restricted to summer months.

Seeing hopeful anglers is common all summer here in Yellowstone Country, and I normally would not even mention it. I, however, thought I was way ahead of the game when I spent the best part of last weekend organizing my clothes in preparation for the changing of the seasons.

While blue jeans are pretty much appropriate for any Wyoming event, many of us match our clothes to the activity. Summer is warm, and those jeans can simply be too much in the direct sun when I am climbing a steep trail, bicycling out to a favorite getaway or listening to some cowboy music on the porch of the Irma Hotel.

So when the weather report called for a high of 89F for today, there I was completely prepared for cool and comfortable “jeans and sweater” weather.

Fall colors usually peak in late September.

Fall colors usually peak in late September.

The good news was that I knew in exactly which box I had packed away my summer clothes. The bad news was that I had to move six other boxes to get to it.

This is not the first time I have jumped the gun on packing away my summer clothes. Every time I do so I vow to leave one pair of shorts and a cool shirt in my dresser for the inevitable stretch of warm days that appear after the Autumnal Equinox.

I never learn, though. I blame it on being in the sun too long.

Fortunately, our warm days are still comfortable. Yesterday afternoon when the temperatures were in the mid-80s, the humidity was in the mid-20s. While the dry air might make my skin a little rough, it does make the lows feel a little warmer and the highs feel a little cooler.

It is not unusual to see snow on high peaks in October in Cody Country.

It is not unusual to see snow on high peaks in October in Cody Country.

We also know that at night the temperatures drop faster than they do in other parts of the world. That is where the jeans and sweaters really come in handy.

I hate it when I say something and my mother’s voice comes out of my mouth, but she was right on the money when she used to tell me to take an extra layer. That is my advice when visitors come to town.

What is the weather like where you are and what clothes are still in your closet?

I would love to hear from you.

Until next week, I am lovin’ life – and restacking boxes – in Cody, Wyo.

Sep
19

Finding that Perfect Balance in Cody — Seasons in Yellowstone Country

Twice each year the planet reaches a point where I pause and think about balance.

When the Autumnal – also called the “Fall” – Equinox arrives on September 22, Earth will momentarily be neither tilted towards nor away from the sun.

All over the planet we will see 12 hours of light and 12 of dark before the days shorten in the northern hemisphere and lengthen in the southern.

I am just geeky enough to get a big kick out of factoids like that.

Like many places in this country, Cody, Wyoming used to be primarily a summer vacation destination. Kids were out of school roughly from the beginning of June until the beginning of September, and families took their Wyoming vacations during that time.

Summer sunset over Cody, Wyoming

Summer sunset over Cody, Wyoming

Summer is still the busiest vacation season in Yellowstone Country, and July will probably always be the busiest month of the year in and around Yellowstone National Park. Through the years, however, many factors have come into play to not only stretch the tourist season but to make the region appealing at any time of year.

- We are always looking to achieve a better balance. Here are some reasons why we are succeeding:Changes in school schedules. The traditional school calendar came about so that kids would have summers off to help out on the family farms. Since we no longer live in an agricultural society so dependent upon family workers, many school systems have adjusted schedules with shorter summer breaks while adding a week off in the fall or several shorter breaks throughout the year. Add in home schooling, and there are opportunities for families to get away throughout the year.

- Facilities set up for cold weather. The classic Yellowstone hotels – Old Faithful Inn, Roosevelt Lodge, Lake Yellowstone Hotel – were constructed at a time when people simply did not visit the park other than during the summer. These hotels were not designed for a winter visit. When the Old Faithful Snow Lodge opened in the late 1990s, however, the property was built specifically for winter visitors. Around Cody most hotels accommodate guests year round.

- Activities geared for the seasons. Instead of running inside and waiting for warmer weather, we have learned to embrace our shoulder seasons. Fall is a great time to fish the area streams. Hunters are welcome, and we have found these groups to be among our responsible visitors for leaving no trace and respecting the environment.  In the winter, we have a terrific local ski hill, Sleeping Giant Ski Area, and great trails for Nordic skiing and snowmobiling. Because of the high concentration of frozen waterfalls, we have the best ice climbing in the lower 48 states.

Buffalo Bill Center of the West a popular winter stop.

Buffalo Bill Center of the West a popular winter stop.

- Attractions open all year. While our Cody Nite Rodeo and the gunfighters next to the Irma Hotel take a break, there is still much to do all year. The Buffalo Bill Center of the West shortens its hours, but is still open with the same great artwork and interpretive displays which have made it a world-class museum. The Heart Mountain Interpretive Center’s exhibits tell the same powerful story regardless of the weather. Restaurants in town are open, and finding a seat is easy. And there is still plenty of good music to be enjoyed.

The story of 14,000 Japanese Americans’ internment at Heart Mountain can be heard year round.

The story of 14,000 Japanese Americans’ internment at Heart Mountain can be heard year round.

Many visitors have also figured out that they simply like to see the country at different times of the year. Often these are the same folks who get off the interstates and are more interested in exploring the area instead of trying to cover as much ground as possible.

These are my kind of people. I bet they know that the word “equinox” is derived from Latin meaning “equal night.”

Until next week, I am lovin’ – and balancing – life in Cody, Wyo.

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