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For the Best Yellowstone Vacation, Start...

March 14th, 2016 by Park County Travel Council | Be the first to comment!

As winter gives way to spring, I start to hear from old friends who are thinking about their summer vacations. Invariably, they ask for my counsel on planning a summer vacation to my slice of paradise. Specifically, they usually want my help visiting Yellowstone National Park and our area.

I am always happy to share my knowledge as well as my recommendations about what to do, where to stay and which cowboy musician is telephone number-worthy.

While each vacation will be different, there are several things I always recommend.

First of all, the best way to appreciate a Yellowstone vacation is to start it in Cody, Wyo., the wildest way in to the world’s first national park.

The first stop I recommend is to go to the Buffalo Bill Center of the West and head to the Draper Natural History Museum. At the Draper’s top level, you can look at a floor map of the region that helps you get your bearings and see where Cody, Park County, the park and the whole Yellowstone ecosystem fit together. From that top level are ramps that go down in a counter clockwise pattern with interpretive displays on specific topics such as the area’s wildlife, how forest Read More


Dude, I want to share a secret with you.

March 7th, 2016 by Park County Travel Council | Be the first to comment!

Did you know the term “Dude” actually originated here in Cody, Wyo.? No, it’s not from the surfer beaches of California or a junior high locker room.

Back when the park – we locals refer to Yellowstone as “the park” – was still a baby in the 1870s the people who made a living taking tourists around the thermal features came up with the term to describe any visitor from the East. The term quickly evolved to describe anyone who hired a guide to show them the West and our lifestyle.

Being proud Westerners, ranchers often hosted guests who wanted to stay for a week or two or three and experience the cowboy life. It did not take long, however, before enough people started visiting that it became prohibitively costly for the ranchers to shelter and feed these visitors.

The answer to this dilemma? Ranchers began reluctantly asking their guests to pay a fee to stay and help with chores around the property. The guests were more than happy to pay these fees, and a new segment of the hospitality industry was born.

The first “dude ranch” dates back to the 1880s and was the Custer Trail Ranch in the Dakota Badlands east of Read More


Marking Up My February Calendar

February 1st, 2016 by Park County Travel Council | Be the first to comment!

I like dates…the ones on the calendar as well as the ones with cowboys. And today my mind is on both kinds.

The calendar dates I’ve been thinking about lately are cause for celebration and reflection.

Ice climbers from all over the world come for the Cody Ice Climbing Festival held President’s Day weekend.

February 12, 13 and 14 is, as everyone knows, Valentine’s Day Weekend. And I have a very special date with a very special cowboy, although what he has planned for me may make some city-slickers cringe. On Friday we’re pulling out our crampons and heading to the 18th Annual Cody Ice Climbing Festival. With more than 300 frozen waterfalls in our South Fork Valley, there is some world-class vertical ice climbing. I’ve gotten pretty good at this over the years, and we’re both looking forward to some multi-pitch climbs and getting together with our frosty friends.

Then if we still have the energy, my beau and I will head to the 7th Annual Ice Fishing Derby at the Sunshine Reservoir in Meeteetse. Ice fishing is huge in these parts, and we all want bragging rights for our catches during the derby. I didn’t do so well last year, but Read More


The Art of Cody

January 12th, 2016 by Park County Travel Council | Comments (2)

During the post-holiday winter months, I often find myself seeking inspiration. And I frequently find it in Cody’s art.

Ranging from a bold and richly detailed mural showing the history of the region’s Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (LDS) community to a whimsical painting of bare-bottomed cowgirls, the art that can be found in Cody reflects our wild Western town’s collective attitude of independence, ambition and respect for tradition and history. As a life-long student of history, I also enjoy that many of the town’s most famous pieces of art come with an interesting and sometimes quirky back story.

Here are a few of the places I visited on a recent free weekend.

The Cody Mural/Historic Site. A great example of artistic story-telling, the Cody Mural Historic Site is located in the rotunda of the LDS Church in downtown Cody, this ambitious painting by Chicago artist Edward Grigware depicts the beginning of the church and experiences of early members during their exodus from the East to Utah. The artist was not a member of the church so he spent nearly a year studying the history of the church and their expansion into the West, and his stunning interpretation draws visitors of Read More


How Buffalo Bill Influenced a Generation...

December 14th, 2015 by Park County Travel Council | Be the first to comment!

Those of us who live in Cody, Wyoming sometimes forget that our town founder was a world traveler and his legend reached many corners of the globe, even long after his death.

Of course we all know about how his “Wild West Show” touched Europe, and how his friendship with Queen Victoria resulted in the magnificent gift of a Cherrywood bar that still graces Buffalo Bill’s Irma Hotel today. I thought I knew most of the stories about Col. William Frederick “Buffalo Bill” Cody. I was wrong

The cherrywood backbar given to Buffalo Bill by Queen Victoria.

Here’s the story:

In the 1950s, more than a century after Buffalo Bill’s birth in Le Claire, Iowa, a generation of disenfranchised young men and women in the African nation of Congo, and in particular, the city of Kinshasa, found a role model in the pop culture version of Buffalo Bill. At that time, Buffalo Bill’s legend was popularized and romanticized in movies and TV shows. The actors who portrayed Buffalo Bill were tough, masculine, and they always got the girl. Scenes of conflict between Cowboys and American Indians had a particularly heady effect on the youth in Congo, a country under the rule of Belgian Read More


What if Buffalo Bill Had the Internet?

November 4th, 2015 by Park County Travel Council | Comments (2)

A couple of weeks ago, the Cody Enterprise ran a story with the news that William F. “Buffalo Bill” Cody would be inducted into the Wyoming Business Hall of Fame in November, and that story has been the talk of the town ever since.

It’s been 98 years since Buffalo Bill died, but historians are still examining the impact he made on the town he founded as well as his business acumen.

Buffalo Bill Cody was the most famous man of his time.

My friends and I were discussing the story and we started speculating about what would have happened if Buffalo Bill had lived with access to our modern-day Internet. Just for fun, here are some of our fantastical ideas:

The logistics of coordinating “Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show” would have been a comparative breeze. The Wild West Show included hundreds of performers as well as animals, and Buffalo Bill had to make sure they were fed, housed and healthy. They also had to practice their performances, perform the shows and then pack up and move on to the next location. Every performer would have had a smart phone, and Buffalo Bill could have emailed critiques of their performances, texted their practice Read More


Five Fun Facts About Buffalo Bill’s...

October 21st, 2015 by Park County Travel Council | Comments(1)

Sure, people come to Buffalo Bill’s Cody/Yellowstone Country for the park, rodeo, Western museums and hot cowboy musicians, but it’s the fun facts they learn about along the way that get them talking.

The other day I was sitting on the patio at one of my favorite coffee shops and pretending to read the latest issue of Country Music News. What I was really doing was eavesdropping on a young family from Upstate New York.

Mom and Dad were talking about the Remingtons they saw at the Whitney Western Art Museum, but when they asked their kids what they liked about the Buffalo Bill Center of the West, they received some surprising answers.

“I liked the chuck wagon out front where the guy was cooking beans and making coffee over the fire,” said the girl who looked like she was about 10 years old.

“I liked the ‘duck gun’ in the Cody Firearms Museum that looks like you could shoot four bad guys at the same time,” said the girl’s little brother.

I was happy the parents did not overreact and lecture their kids about them being too young for coffee, so I discreetly started chatting them up about some of the area’s lesser-known facts.

Here Read More


Following in Butch Cassidy’s Footsteps...

October 5th, 2015 by Park County Travel Council | Be the first to comment!

The other night when I was channel surfing I came across one of my all-time favorite movies – “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.” I watched the entire movie, and I was reminded of how much I love this flick, especially because it has so many real-life connections to Buffalo Bill’s Cody/Yellowstone Country.

The Hole in the Wall cabin at Old Trail Town, Cody.

Of course I’m far too young to remember when this classic movie first came out. I’ll save you the Google search. It was 1969. But my parents were big fans, and whenever it was on TV my family would try to watch the movie. I have a great, comforting memory of curling up with my parents on our red fake-fur couch, sipping Coca-Cola and being allowed to stay up past my bedtime on a school night to watch the movie. Back then, I recall being in love with Robert Redford (let’s be honest…who wasn’t?). And I was struck by the huge volume of mascara the ladies in the Old West must have had to wear, as evidenced by Katharine Ross’s thick, globby eyelashes. Funny, the things you remember as a kid.

Buffalo Bill’s Cody/Yellowstone Country has at least Read More


Feeding my truffle habit and living...

September 22nd, 2015 by Park County Travel Council | Be the first to comment!

The other day, I had a hankering for chocolate. And I’m not talking about a Hershey’s kind of hankering. I wanted the real deal; chocolate that is just as authentic as Yellowstone Country.

So I got into my car and headed 32 miles south to the town of Meeteetse, a small town on the Greybull River that is so classic I always half expect John Wayne to swagger down its wooden boardwalks. With a name like Meeteetse, there’d better be a good story behind the name, right? In fact, there are two (but in my opinion, only one of them is good). One version is that it is an American Indian phrase for “meeting place.” That sounds right. Another explanation is that the word translated into English means “measured distance near and far,” but to this day no one has been able to shed light on how that relates to the town. As I used to say in my eye-rolling 14-year-old teenager days…”boooring.”

A welcome site when arriving in Meeteetse, Wyoming.

But back to chocolate. The town of Meeteetse is known for many things – its nearby ghost towns, home-base for notorious outlaws like Butch Cassidy and an array of colorful characters Read More


Cody Museums Rock the True West

August 3rd, 2015 by Park County Travel Council | Be the first to comment!

It feels good to be a winner, and a lot of people involved with our very own Buffalo Bill Center of the West are feeling purty goshdern good today. (Read on to see why I’m suddenly reverting to my cowgirl vernacular.)

America’s frontier history comes to life in True West, the world’s oldest, continuously published Western Americana magazine.

Buffalo Bill Center of the West was just named the Top Western Museum for 2015 by True West magazine, which as many of you know is a top-notch magazine covering the authentic West. I got a sneak peek at the upcoming September issue of the magazine, which highlights the Buffalo Bill Museum’s “Man of the West, Man of the World: The Life and Legacy of William F. Buffalo Bill.’”

Yes, yes, I know. As my mama always said, “Lettin’ the cat outta the bag is a whole lot easier than puttin’ it back,” but I’m so tickled that the Center of the West topped the list that I couldn’t keep it to myself. I hope the fine writers at True West magazine won’t be too ticked at me, and if all of you buy a copy of the magazine, maybe they won’t be. Look for Read More