CODY, Wyo., July 1, 2011 – It is not too late to arrange a classic summer vacation in northwestern Wyoming’s Yellowstone Country, comprised of the towns of Cody, Meteetse and Powell, Wyoming and parts of Yellowstone National Park.
Yellowstone Country offers a full range of Western entertainment options, a wide array of quirky, kid-pleasing attractions and many affordable lodging options, including numerous guest ranches, charming inns and budget motels.
Well-known for its proximity to Yellowstone National Park, many vacationers visit Buffalo Bill’s Cody/Yellowstone Country on their way to or from the park or make Cody their home base for a day trip into the park, just 50 miles away.
“Yellowstone Country offers a classic vacation experience, and for our younger visitors it is often their first exposure to Western traditions, history and hospitality,” said Claudia Wade, executive director of the Park Country Travel Council, a tourism organization that supports marketing of the area. “With the addition of new adventures and attractions recently, Cody has been increasingly transformed into more of a ‘drive-to’ rather than a ‘drive-through’ destination.”
Last-minute vacationers will still be able to find lodging have great Western experiences this summer, said Wade.
To illustrate the area’s summer offerings, here is a sample three-day itinerary. The Park County Travel Council also offers an online vacation planning tool at http://www.yellowstonecountry.org/plan-your-visit/.
Morning – Start with a visit to the Buffalo Bill Historical Center. This world-class facility is actually five separate museums, each with exhibits that look at different aspects of the American West. The Draper Museum of Natural History is especially popular with young visitors because of the museum’s extensive interactive displays and life-size exhibits of animals found in the greater Yellowstone ecosystem.
From the museum, take a stroll to downtown Cody and enjoy lunch at one of the many restaurants on Sheridan Avenue, Cody’s main street.
Early afternoon – Take a two-hour float trip down the Shoshone River. Vacationers with more time can opt for half-day whitewater rafting trips. Interpretive guides steer floats while providing stories and information about the area’s colorful characters, breathtaking scenery and abundant wildlife.
Late afternoon – Visit Tecumseh’s Old West Miniature Village and Museum, where thousands of miniature people, buildings and animals depict Western scenes of the past. Owner and collector extraordinaire Jerry Fick has spent a lifetime working on this room-size diorama and extensive exhibit of Western artifacts.
6 p.m. Watch a hilarious street performance by the famous Cody Gunfighters. The porch of the Irma Hotel is the best viewing point to watch this entertaining, quirky Cody event.
7 p.m. Experience The Cody Cattle Company with the high-spirited “Rockin M Wranglers” and an all-you-can-eat buffet.
After breakfast, wander the town’s many shops and galleries along Sheridan Avenue, Cody’s main street. The town offers numerous shops featuring antiques, gifts, sporting equipment and fine art. Or check out the galleries of local furniture-makers who specialize in creating distinctive furniture in the Western genre.
Late morning – Take an hour-long trolley tour of Cody and the surrounding area. The tour features live narration by a knowledgeable tour guide, entertaining audio clips and historical photos. The trolley tour is a great way to get an overview of the town and its history.
Have lunch in town.
After lunch, take a half-day drive on the “Road to Yellowstone,” the Buffalo Bill Cody Scenic Byway. The scenic road takes travelers through the Wapiti Valley to the East Entrance of Yellowstone. The area is known for its abundant wildlife and incredible rock formations. Stop along the way at the Buffalo Bill Dam Visitor Center. Located about six miles west of Cody, the dam was the brainchild of Buffalo Bill himself. It was completed in 1910 was at the time the highest concrete dam in the world, at 353 feet high. Continue to drive along the road and watch for elk, grizzly bears, eagles and other wildlife.
Stop at Pahaska Tepee to stretch your legs and have a snack at the Lodge Pole Room. The popular attraction was Buffalo Bill Cody’s original hunting lodge and the odd-sounding name originated from local Indians, who called it “Long Hair’s Lodge.” Watch for grizzlies and moose. The area surrounding Pahaska Tepee is prime wildlife habitat.
On the way back to Cody, look at the mysterious rock formations. Can you spot “Snoopy the Dog” or “Henry Ford?” Equipped with healthy imaginations and a Western-style sense of humor, locals have given names to several of the strange-looking rock formations throughout the Wapiti Valley. There is even a book, called “The Most Scenic 52 Miles in America: Cody to Yellowstone,” which includes photos and locations of the rock formations along the road.
Enjoy dinner at the Irma Hotel. Built by Buffalo Bill, the hotel is an authentic Cody landmark that captures the essence of Western hospitality. It was named after Buffalo Bill’s youngest daughter, Irma, and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
After dinner, enjoy Dan Miller’s Cowboy Music Revue, located in the historic Cody Theatre across from the Irma Hotel. The popular Branson-style music variety show features Nashville transplant Dan Miller and the “Empty Saddles Band.”
Get out of town today. After breakfast, take a drive on 14N towards Powell, a quaint town located 25 miles from Cody.
Visit the Heart Mountain Relocation Center, a Japanese internment camp which once housed more than 11,000 Japanese-American citizens during World War II. Visitors can see the ruins of the one-time hospital and a few other buildings and take an interpretive walk surrounding a monument to the many internees who served in the armed forces during the war. The Heart Mountain Wyoming Foundation will open a new visitor education center at Heart Mountain on Aug. 19, 2011.
Visit the Powell Homesteader Museum and other shops and galleries. Return to Cody.
Visit Old Trail Town, a collection of authentic buildings laid out on the original town site of Cody City. The buildings were collected from an 80-mile radius of Cody and date from 1879 to 1900. Buildings include the “Hole-in-the-Wall” cabin used by Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, and Curley’s Cabin, named for the Crow Indian Scout to General Custer in the Battle of Little Big Horn.
Take a horseback trail ride. Numerous near-town outfitters offer trail rides throughout the area.
Have dinner in town.
End your Cody vacation with the Cody Nite Rodeo. The 59-year-old rodeo has earned Cody the designation as Rodeo Capital of the World. It is the only seven-night-a-week outdoor rodeo (June through August) in the country.
Yellowstone Country is comprised of the towns of Cody, Powell and Meeteetse as well as the valley east of Yellowstone National Park.
The area of Park County is called “Buffalo Bill’s Cody/Yellowstone Country because it was the playground of Buffalo Bill Cody himself. Buffalo Bill founded the town of Cody in 1896, and the entire region was driven and is still heavily influenced by the vision of the Colonel. Today its broad streets, world-class museum Buffalo Bill Historical Center and thriving western culture host more than 1 million visitors annually.
The Park County Travel Council website (www.yellowstonecountry.org) lists information about vacation packages, special events, guide services, weather and more. Travelers wishing to arrange vacation can also call the Park County Travel Council at 1-800-393-2639.
Mesereau Public Relations