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    Cody in Wyoming: discovering the city of Buffalo Bill!

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    Lluis Enric Mayans

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    Few townspeople can proudly boast it western spirit of Cody, a haven for cowboys and the Rodeo capital of the world (or so its inhabitants like to call it). Founded by none other than by Buffalo bill, whose first name was William Frederick Cody, the town never misses an opportunity to pay homage to him, dedicating dams, museums and natural areas to him, perfectly embodying that "mythology of the West " that Buffalo Bill himself helped shape. The advantages of visiting this town are more than one: first of all the proximity to Yellowstone, a real gem of the Rocky Mountains, the splendid natural context in which the town is immersed, full of magnificent mountain peaks and remarkable panoramic roads, and some decidedly attractions. surprising that you can find within the city. Did I intrigue you? Let's find out something more ...


    • Where is it and how to get there
    • How to put Cody on a Yellowstone itinerary?
    • What to see in the city
      • Cody Old Trail Town
      • Buffalo Bill Center of the West
      • Rodeo
      • Sheridan Avenue: Cody's Main Street
    • Surroundings of Cody
      • Buffalo Bill Cody Scenic Byway
      • Buffalo Bill State Park e Buffalo Bill Dam
      • Big Horn Mountains: Medicine Wheel e Devil’s Canyon
      • Beartooth Highway
    • Where to eat
    • Accomodation

    Where is it and how to get there

    The town of Cody is about an hour from Yellowstone's eastern entrance, joined to the park by the beautiful scenic drive Buffalo Bill Cody Scenic Byway (US 14, 16 and 20), which we will discuss shortly. There are usually 2 directions from which you come to arrive in the town of the Rodeo: the one just described (from the West) and from the East, after visiting the Devils Tower (from which it is about 500 km away). Cody is in fact a must for those who make a tour of Wyoming or for those who opt for a much wider tour that usually also includes Montana, South Dakota, Colorado and more rarely North Dakota, to discover the regions of the so-called Real America.

    Cody can also be easily reached by domestic flight, often from Denver and Salt Lake City International Airports. The Yellowstone Regional Airport it is in fact located in the south-eastern area of ​​the city, just 5 minutes by car from the center, and has the main car rental agencies to move around independently. If you opt for this solution, I would like to point out our advice on how to book a flight to the States and how to rent a car in the USA.

    How to put Cody on a Yellowstone itinerary?

    Farms around Cody

    Not everyone who visits Yellowstone makes it through this city; the western region of the park, in fact, the best known, can be visited even without relying on Cody and, even if it is a shame to miss the town of the Rodeo, the days available do not always allow you to go as far as the Buffalo Bill lands.

    However, depending on the Yellowstone park, Cody represents an excellent base for visiting the Yellowstone Lake and it can also come in handy to make a detour to Lamar Valley. For information on how to include the town of Buffalo Bill in the tour of the park, I suggest you read my recommended itinerary for Yellowstone, alternatively you can also take some ideas from my nature trail from Jackson to Cody and from the paragraph of this article dedicated to the Beartooth Highway . If you want information about Jackson, read the article what to see in Jackson.

    What to see in the city

    Cody has various interesting attractions to offer both within its borders and in the immediate vicinity. Here is what I advise you not to miss:

    Cody Old Trail Town

    In my opinion this is the real flagship of Cody, the attraction for which in itself it would be worthwhile to include this town in your itinerary (don't worry though, if you don't make it you can always make up for it with Virginia City and Nevada City). Here, where the town was originally founded in 1895, a series of historic buildings have been collected from various regions of Montana and Wyoming and carefully reassembled. What comes out is a western town that never really existed but whose buildings are all authentic and original.

    The visit is also facilitated thanks to a brochure (also available in Spanish) which explains the origin and function of each single building; fans of old west stories can only jump in front of the beautiful saloon frequented by the gang of Butch Cassidy (there are still the bullet holes on the door), to the shelter that the latter used together with Sundance Kid to plan his raids, or to the house of Curley, the Indian who helped the General Custer in the Battle of Little Big Horn.

    The site also contains thousands of historical relics from the Old West as well as numerous tombs of important people, including that of Buffalo Bill's grandson, set apart from all the others. The site can be visited in about an hour and the entrance ticket, which you can buy at the gift shop that you will find immediately at the entrance, costs 10 dollars per person (5 $ for children from 6 to 12 years).

    Buffalo Bill Center of the West

    If you think you have run out of Cody's interests, be ready to change your mind. The Buffalo Bill Center of the West is a very pleasant surprise and a visit is highly recommended. The whole complex includes 5 really well-kept museums:

    • Buffalo Bill Museum, dedicated to the life of Buffalo Bill, who as you will have understood here is a character of some importance
    • Plains Indians Museum, one of the most important centers dedicated to Indian culture and art, with insights into the dramatic history of this people, in my opinion the most interesting museum
    • Whitney Western Art Museum, whose purpose is to experience the spirit of the American West through art. It boasts a large collection of works depicting events, characters and natural landscapes of the Rocky Mountain region. The works range from the beginning of the XNUMXth century to the present day.
    • Draper Natural History Museum, entirely dedicated to the deepening of the Greater Yellowstone ecosystem, one of the most important natural areas for the observation of landscape ecology and geology.
    • Cody Firearms Museum, the most comprehensive collection of American firearms in the world, with over 7000 firearms and more than 30000 artifacts.

    Visiting the museum with due attention could also take you a whole day, however, do not dedicate less than half a day to it.


    Arriving into the city from Yellowstone you will immediately notice the large stadium on your left Rodeo citizen, which here is a real institution. In summer, rodeos are held practically every evening, around 20 pm, and represent a further opportunity to come into contact with the cowboy culture of these areas. Most of the performances focus on licking the animal or the ability to ride it when it goes wild, all interspersed with various comic gags. To buy tickets there are hotels that sell them directly, for example the Kings Inn, or you can get them in advance online but it is not strictly necessary (in the height of summer I bought them the same day and during the show there were still many seats available in the grandstand). The cost is around $ 20.

    Sheridan Avenue: Cody's Main Street

    As you know every city in America has its main street, and in Cody this is represented by Sheridan Avenue, a portion of the street a few blocks long with various shops, clubs and hotels. The most interesting attraction is the legendary Irma, historic inn built in 1902 by Buffalo Bill, who named it after his daughter (the cherry wood counter seems to be a gift from the Queen of England). In the past, celebrities such as Frederic Remington, Annie Oakley and Calamity Jane have stayed and it is also possible to sleep in Buffalo Bill's private suite.


    Live concerts and western shows (complete with shootings) are often staged right in front of the club, making Irma the real attraction of all Sheridan Avenue. The shows are organized by Cody Gunfighters and are usually held from Monday to Saturday at 6pm (check the official website for any changes).

    Surroundings of Cody

    The natural area surrounding Cody is remarkable and is sometimes snubbed for its proximity to Yellowstone Park which detracts a bit. Let's find out a little better:

    Buffalo Bill Cody Scenic Byway

    The Buffalo Bill Parkway is approximately 45km long and begins shortly after Yellowstone's eastern entrance, running along the north branch of the Shoshone River and crossing the canyon of the same name and the Wapiti valley; its official conclusion is even before reaching the Buffalo Bill State Park, located about 15km west of Cody. It is a particularly suggestive road, especially for the rocky conformations that surround it: imposing dark red rocky pinnacles that are somewhat reminiscent of the hoodoos of Bryce Canyon. Along the way you will also find Pahaska Tepee, Buffalo Bill's hunting lodge, where you can stop for a snack and admire a historic site, and Smith Mansion, an unlikely house we have already talked about.

    Il Pahaska Tepee it should also be considered as an overnight stay opportunity, especially for its location, as it is less than a 5-minute drive from the East entrance of Yellowstone, thus allowing you to halve the travel time from Cody to the park.

    Buffalo Bill State Park e Buffalo Bill Dam

    Buffalo Bill Dam

    After the Scenic Byway the beautiful views to admire do not end and in fact after a few km you will meet the Buffalo Bill Reservoir, a beautiful lake part of the larger Buffalo Bill State Park, which borders the dam of the same name (Buffalo Bill Dam), where I recommend you take a short and pleasant stop. At the small parking lot they will pick you up with a free shuttle to take you to the Visitor Center, from where you can enjoy a beautiful view of the canyon. The site is about 15 minutes from Cody and can be visited easily.

    Big Horn Mountains: Medicine Wheel e Devil’s Canyon

    Devil's Canyon
    Medicine Wheel

    The Big Horn Mountains, named in honor of the Rocky Mountain sheep (Bighorn Sheep), are located on the border between Wyoming and Montana and offer splendid views; it may therefore be a good idea to plan a day trip with Cody. Here are 2 interesting destinations (among many) to add to the itinerary:

    • Medicine Wheel: mysterious monument composed of flat stones arranged in a circle to form a wheel of 28 spokes. To reach it you will have to drive for just over 2 hours from Cody and then take a nice very simple panoramic path of just over 2 km (one way). More than for the monument, in my opinion, the excursion is worth for the view.
    • Devil’s Canyon Overlook: another remarkable panoramic view is reached after crossing the border with Montana, after driving for about 1 hour and 20 from Cody. The view of the canyon is stunning and can be reached directly by car. Maximum results with minimum effort. For more information on this viewpoint and its surroundings, check out our Bighorn Canyon guide.

    Beartooth Highway

    For those who go back and forth from Yellowstone and do not want to repeat the same road twice (Buffalo Bill Scenic Byway) there is another scenic route to consider, if you are willing to lengthen the journey a little. This is the Beartooth Highway, the stretch of road of 110 km running along the U.S. 212 to the North East entrance of Yellowstone (in Cooke City). The reasons to follow it are essentially 2: the beauty of the road and the possibility of visiting one of the most beautiful valleys in Yellowstone, Lamar Valley.

    Dead Indian Overlook
    Rock Creek Vista Point

    There are 2 ways to do it from Cody:

    1. Integral path: take 120 northbound and then 308 to the town of Red Lodge, where the scenic route begins and ends in Cooke City. The whole journey takes at least 3 hours
    2. Partial path: after taking the 120 at the fork with the 296 turn left following the latter, this road will take you to cut the Beartooth Highway, you will only cover the last third but you will save at least 1 hour of travel. Even if you will lose a good part of the panoramic road (including the wonderful viewpoint Rock Creek Vista Point at 1:30 from Cody) you can compensate with the Dead Indian Summit Overlook, another viewpoint that you will meet along the way.

    Where to eat

    Dish at The Local

    If you are not staying from Irma you could still consider it for an informal dinner, the environment is certainly picturesque and the idea of ​​eating in a historic structure certainly has a certain charm, the quality of the food is average, if you are looking for a good burger or American cuisine you will hardly be disappointed.

    If, on the other hand, you are looking for something a little more refined, there is an interesting place on 13th street, 300 meters from Irma; is called The Local, a restaurant that makes organic and local products its main strengths and that does not give up even daring combinations (for example fish with ice cream !!!).

    Another interesting possibility is the Cody Cattle Company, an activity that combines dinner and entertainment: in fact, you can enjoy a buffet with typical western dishes, a country concert and, if you wish, add the rodeo to the package, for a complete full immersion in the world of cowboys.


    The canyon that runs alongside Cody

    Cody offers many options for overnight stays and, given the many attractions available in and around the city, it is advisable to stay even longer than one night. For a list of recommended facilities, I refer you to our tips on where to sleep in the city, which you can find by clicking on the button below.

    Our advice on where to sleep in Cody

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