Cody, Wyoming – Buffalo Bill’s Gateway to Yellowstone

 The statue, “Buffalo Bill – The Scout” sits outside the Buffalo Bill Historical Center in Cody, Wyo. /Sean Campbell for BBHC

The statue, “Buffalo Bill – The Scout” sits outside the Buffalo Bill Historical Center in Cody, Wyo. /Sean Campbell for BBHC

Hankering for a taste of the Wild West? Cody, Wyo., has you covered. Just outside Yellowstone National Park, with daily flights from both Salt Lake City and Denver, it’s an ideal escape for a long weekend or a family vacation, and there’s plenty to do in any season.

Learning about the Old West

You may be surprised to learn just how many museums and historical centers are in Cody. Though the town is small, it has plenty to offer even the most seasoned museum-goer. The Buffalo Bill Historical Center (720 Sheridan Ave., 307-587-4774, (www.bbhc.org) comprises five great museums in one space: the Buffalo Bill Museum, Cody Firearms Museum, Draper Museum of Natural History, Plains Indian Museum, and Whitney Gallery of Western Art. Take in scenes of the Wild West at the Whitney Gallery, learn about the surprisingly fascinating history of firearms at the Cody Firearms Museum (and view its collection of over 3,400 firearms), or learn about the man Cody is named after at the Buffalo Bill Museum. The Plains Indian Museum displays the culture and history of the area’s Native American population, while the Draper Museum of Natural History takes visitors on a tour of the area’s rich geological and geographical history. All of the museums offer a range of interactive exhibits and tours, both self-guided and led by docents.

Turning to a more sobering part of the nation’s history, the Heart Mountain Interpretive Center (1539 Road 19, Powell, 307-754-8000, (www.heartmountain.org) seeks to teach visitors about the lives and experiences of the over 14,000 Japanese Americans who were interned there during World War II. The center uses recreations, film, and exhibits to tell the stories of these men and women.

Taking It Outside

Cody is an ideal location for outdoor activity, whether summer, winter, or somewhere in between. When it’s cold outside, the area is especially known for its ice-climbing. The south fork of the Shoshone River creates tall, solid blocks of ice ideal for the sport. Want to give it a go, but afraid of, well, falling off said tall blocks of ice? Jackson Hole Mountain Guides (406-270-9167, jhmg.com, cody@jhmg.com) is there for you, with all of the equipment you need and the expertise to keep you safe and get you climbing. Ice-climbing is a truly unforgettable experience, and Cody is one of the best places to try it. If snow’s more your style, the Sleeping Giant Ski Area (348 Yellowstone Highway, 307-587-3125, 222.skisg.com) has a terrain park and three lifts for the skier or snowboarder in your party.

Whether it’s fishing, mountain biking, snowmobiling, or just a scenic drive, the area is sure to have something for you– check www.yellowstonecountry.org for listings of local outfitters and their offerings.

Home on the Range

At the Chamberlin Inn, (1032 12th Street, 888-587-0202, www.chamberlininn.com) enjoy classic comfort and décor alongside modern amenities. Initially opened as a boarding house in 1904, the building has enjoyed a continuous presence in Cody for over 100 years and has been renovated as a boutique hotel in 2005. Have a drink at the hotel’s lounge and bar, or take a stroll in the garden when the weather’s warm.

You can rest easy while vacationing in Cody; the town’s hotels are as comfortable as they are historic. Buffalo Bill’s Irma Hotel (1192 Sheridan Ave., 800-745-IRMA, www.irmahotel.com) is a downtown Cody landmark. Built by Bill, the hotel also boasts two restaurants and a bar, and is on the National Register of Historic Places.

Buffalo Bites

Cody also has plenty to offer in terms of dining, especially for carnivores. Right in the center of downtown, the Rib and Chop House (1367 Sheridan Ave., 307-527-7731, www.ribandchophouse.com) knows its meat, and also offers a variety of southern dishes, like fried shrimp po’ boy and LSU pasta jambalaya. In a town named after Buffalo Bill, it’s only fitting that visitors be able to try some buffalo; head to The Terrace (525 W. Yellowstone Ave., 307-587-5868), for buffalo meatloaf with cranberry chipotle or salad with the restaurant’s own huckleberry vinaigrette.

Cody, Wyoming is more than just a peek at the Wild West, although it certainly provides that; with great places to stay and eat, its amazing museums, and outdoor fun for everyone, it’s a great destination no matter the season.

Kathleen Curry and Geoff Griffin write about their treks near and far for Smart Travel Info and host the weekly Travel Brigade Radio Show. Follow them on Twitter @TravelBrigade.

Copyright-Kathleen Curry and Geoff Griffin – © Smarttravelinfo.com

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