CODY, Wyoming, April 1, 2021 – Calling all parents. The kids are ready for a Great American Adventure this summer, and you could use one too.
Northwestern Wyoming’s Cody Yellowstone is a classic Western vacation destination with adventures around every bend. From horseback riding to museum-hopping, kids and parents will find numerous ways to bond, laugh, let loose and experience adventures that are far from the familiar.
“Families have been coming to Cody and Yellowstone National Park practically since the moment Buffalo Bill Cody founded the town 125 years ago,” said Claudia Wade, executive director of the Park County Travel Council, the marketing arm for the towns of Cody, Powell and Meeteetse and the valley east of Yellowstone National Park. “From the Cody Nite Rodeo to wildlife watching in Yellowstone, there are classic, outdoorsy and educational experiences here for everyone in the family.”
Here are a few of the kid-tested, parent-approved adventures families can experience this summer in Cody Yellowstone.
Sweatin’ with the “Oldies”
After a year of virtual learning, virtual working, virtual shopping and virtual gatherings, it’s time to get physical. In Cody and Yellowstone National Park, parents and kids can ride, hike, paddle, pedal and fish their way to real live fun.
Hiking – Families will find meandering in-town walking trails, riverside trails in the Shoshone National Forest and everything from easy boardwalks to serious mountain treks in Yellowstone National Park.
Horseback riding – With multiple outfitters and numerous horse-centric dude and guest ranches, young and old will find the pony ride, trail ride or multi-day horse-packing trip that is perfect for multi-generational equestrian fun. There are also numerous guided horseback riding trips in Yellowstone National Park.
Biking – Biking is a great way to explore the town of Cody and the surrounding area. There are numerous bikeable streets and trails in and around town. With more than 10 miles of trails, Beck Lake Bike Park is another option for pedaling families. Spring and fall are the prime pedaling seasons in Yellowstone National Park.
Rafting, paddling and boating – There are several places in the region where families can raft and paddle the day away. Multiple outfitters offer rafting trips on the scenic Shoshone River. Located just a few miles from downtown Cody, the Buffalo Bill Reservoir in Buffalo Bill State Park features boating, and it is a hot spot for windsurfing too. Yellowstone Lake in Yellowstone National Park is also a great place for splashy fun. Families can also take guided boating and paddling trips and rent canoes and kayaks.
Fishing – Good for the soul as well as the planet, there is so much fishing in and around Cody and Yellowstone National Park that even local anglers can’t tell you just how many streams, rivers, lakes, creeks and tributaries there are in the destination. There are numerous outfitters in Cody who will take families on guided trips and help them get geared up for a day of angling. Yellowstone National Park offers a handy tool for tracking real-time stream flows.
Embrace the Classics
Few places embody the American West like Cody and Yellowstone National Park. With a stroll through Old Trail Town or an evening at the Cody Nite Rodeo, visitors can let themselves dream about what life might have been in a simpler time and place. Here are some ways families can experience the spirit of the West.
Cody Nite Rodeo – Cody has been the Rodeo Capital of the World since it began its nightly summer-season rodeo in 1938, and generations of visitors have experienced their first rodeo at the town’s revered rodeo grounds. The two-hour performances are every night June 1 through Aug. 31.
Old Trail Town/Museum of the Old West – Parents who walk through Old Trail Town with their kids are likely to hear comments about just how tiny those cabins, schools and stores were “back then.” Old Trail Town is an ingeniously staged “town” with some 26 authentic cabins and other buildings from spots in and around the state of Wyoming.
Road-tripping on Scenic Byways – Road-trippers have been traveling to Cody Yellowstone since 1917, when the first private automobiles were allowed in Yellowstone National Park. In fact, Cody town founder Buffalo Bill Cody chose the town’s location in order to capture the attention (and dollars) of travelers as they were driving along the new “Road to Yellowstone” – now called the Buffalo Bill Scenic Byway. Cody Yellowstone features five different Scenic Byways, and all offer a variety of classic Western stops and experiences.
Teach Your Children Well
With an array of “please touch” museum exhibits and wow-inducing displays that showcase the region’s history and Western spirit and introduce Cody’s larger-than-life town founder, area museums and other attractions will resonate for learners of all ages long after they return home. Just don’t tell the kids they’re learning something because they’ll think they’re just having fun.
Buffalo Bill Center of the West (BBCW) – The Buffalo Bill Center of the West is a world-renowned cultural and educational powerhouse with five museums under one roof. The Buffalo Bill Museum features interactive exhibits spotlighting the showman’s life and times, including the legendary Wild West Show. The Draper Museum of Natural History inspires youthful adventurers with displays that showcase the sights, sounds and even the smells of the region with interactive, innovative exhibits. The center also includes the Plains Indian Museum, Cody Firearms Museum and Whitney Western Art Museum, all with exhibits that will prompt the imagination of youthful visitors. The museum also features special exhibits and interactive programs such as Cowboy Rich’s Chuckwagon Dinners and a Live Raptor Experience.
Heart Mountain Interpretive Center – Children may still not fully understand why thousands of Japanese-Americans lived in internment camps during World War II, but they will remember how they lived after seeing this powerful, award-winning museum situated at the site of the Heart Mountain Internment Camp. Designed to resemble the typical barracks-style accommodations that housed its 14,000 internees, the center depicts how families lived in poorly lit rectangular buildings, slept on cots and endured a harsh climate and lack of privacy. There are also displays highlighting poignant stories of friendship, endurance and patriotism.
Buffalo Bill Dam & Visitor Center – Completed in 1910, the Buffalo Bill Dam was once the tallest concrete arch dam in the world, and its visitor center showcases not only the dam’s masterful engineering but also emphasizes its impact on tourism and agriculture in the valley. Kids with a penchant for science will learn how water was as much a concern in the days of Buffalo Bill Cody as it is in the West today.
Toe-tappin’ in your Tevas
Cody Yellowstonecomes alive in the summer with numerous entertainment options that will have families humming the chorus of “Home on the Range,” long after they’re, well, home.
Wild West Spectacular - For six weeks every summer, audiences are wowed by this musical extravaganza that tells the story of the legend of Buffalo Bill Cody. The production features talented dancers and singers from around the region, and it is celebrating its fifth anniversary in 2021.
Cody Cattle Company - This chuckwagon dinner features an authentic Western dinner and live musical performances by award-winning musician Ryan Martin and the Triple C Cowboys band.
Dan Miller’s Cowboy Music Revue - The charmingly self-deprecating Dan Miller and his talented band have been entertaining Cody audiences for more than 15 years with a family-friendly hour-long production that includes songs, comedy and cowboy poetry. Dan and his Empty Saddles Band have toured the country and often appear on the TV show “Larry’s Country Diner.”
Live music in Yellowstone National Park - Several of the park hotels offer live musical entertainment on select days throughout the summer.
Concerts in the Park- These free weekly performances during July and August at the City Park bandshell are a hit among locals and visitors alike.