Cody/Yellowstone Country vacation can be a trip of a lifetime, one that will be remembered forever by every member of the family. To maximize the experiences, Claudia Wade of the Park County Travel Council, the marketing arm of this northwestern Wyoming region, shares these tips for a fun and memorable vacation in Yellowstone Country.
“The best time to plan a summer trip to Cody/Yellowstone Country is in the winter, when there is still plenty of room availability and travelers can choose the best option for their travel style and budget,” said Wade. “And a little time spent on the Cody/Yellowstone Country website will help potential travelers determine the adventures that appeal to them the most, so they begin building a flexible itinerary that will make everyone in the group happy.”
1. Choose where to lay your head and make reservations soon. Cody/Yellowstone is home to an array of dude and guest ranches, Bed and Breakfasts, luxury hotels, boutique inns and cabins. A complete listing of lodging can be found online.
2. Travel before June 20 for the best lodging availability. Most of the region’s summer-season attractions like the Cody Nite Rodeo and Cody Trolley Tours kick off June 1, but travelers – especially those with school-age kids – don’t typically start hitting the road in droves until after mid-June. “Those of us who have lived here for years can practically guess the date by the number of visitors on Sheridan Avenue,” said Wade. “The visitor floodgates open after the middle of June, so early-June visitors will find plenty of room availability and fewer travelers in museums and on tours.”
3. Take the Cody Trolley Tour, ideally at the beginning of a visit. This fun and informative one-hour tour travels around the town and as far as the Buffalo Bill Dam while an on-board narrator introduces riders to the town’s attractions, history and legends.
4. Visit the Buffalo Bill Center of the West. Capping the west end of Sheridan Avenue – Cody’s main street – this sprawling facility with five museums under one roof should be on every visitor’s must-do list. Travelers heading to the park will find the Draper Natural History Museum to be a great pre-trip orientation, as exhibits showcase the wildlife and natural history of the Great Yellowstone ecosystem. The other museums are the Buffalo Bill Museum, Plains Indian Museum, Whitney Western Art Museum and Cody Firearms Museum.
5. Tour Yellowstone with an expert. With 2.2 million acres, five entrances, abundant free-roaming wildlife and geothermal features unlike any other place on Earth, a visit to Yellowstone National Park can be a bit overwhelming. Several companies offer daily and multi-day tours with on-board guides who share details about the park’s furry residents, hot spots and other natural wonders.
6. Practice safe viewing. Most Cody/Yellowstone Country visitors will see wildlife such as bison, bighorn sheep and elk along the road. For roadside sightings, Wade reminds travelers wishing to stop pull completely off roads — ideally in a pull-out — and use binoculars for the best views. Travelers should stay at least 25 yards away from most wildlife and at least 100 yards from predators like bears and wolves.
7. Experience the Cody Nite Rodeo, especially in 2018 when this authentic Western attraction celebrates its 80th season. The longest running summer-season nightly rodeo in the country, Cody Nite Rodeo is a fun and memorable experience for the entire family.
8. Pack smart. Weather in Cody Yellowstone Country can vary greatly throughout the summer, and travelers should be ready for temperatures that typically range from the 70s to the 40s. Visitors should also plan for a high-altitude experience and bring plenty of sunscreen and refillable water bottles to stay hydrated.
9. Dine around. As travelers might expect, there are plenty of places to find a great steak, but there are also restaurants that specialize in local and sustainable food, ethnic cuisine, sandwiches and diner fare.
10. Live the history. Numerous attractions showcase the history of the region, including Old Trail Town and Museum of the Old West, Buffalo Bill Dam & Visitor Center and the powerful Heart Mountain World War II Interpretive Center – the site of an incarceration camp were 14,000 Japanese-Americans were imprisoned during World War II.
Cody/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 called “Cody/Yellowstone Country” 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 Center of the West and thriving western culture host nearly 1 million visitors annually.