5 Reasons to Stay in Cody, Wyoming When You Visit Yellowstone
Written by Nick on July 15, 2022
One of Earth’s most incredible natural wonders and the crown jewel of the American west, Yellowstone National Park is a prime destination for sightseers from around the world. Wherever you’re from, you want to make the most of your trip to this World Heritage site. Deciding where to stay when you visit Yellowstone will require some thought, since this can set the tone for the rest of your trip. That’s why Cody, Wyoming should be at the top of your list. With stunning scenery, abundant wildlife, and a legendary legacy, Cody offers an experience like no other for a journey to Yellowstone you will never forget. It’s impossible to highlight every aspect of Cody in one piece, but here are a few of the top reasons why Cody should be your first and best stop when you visit Yellowstone.
The Real American West Lives on in Cody
Most folks think of the American west in terms of history and legend. Sure, you’ll find plenty of that to enjoy in Cody, but you’ll also discover that the true spirit of the west is alive and kicking every day–from downtown Cody, to Heart Mountain, to the Wapiti Valley and beyond. Cody sits smack dab in the middle of the Bighorn Basin, where you’ll find that the cowboys never left, and everyday people can still live their own way. For a vibrant western experience, get tickets to the Cody Nite Rodeo, which runs every night from June 1 through August 31. Stroll down Cody’s main street, where the world-famous July 4 parade is held annually, before having dinner and watching cowboys reenact a gunfight out in the street. Whether you’re traveling with the family or taking a solo trip, your time in Cody will leave you with vivid memories to last a lifetime.
More Scenery, Less Traffic When You Visit Yellowstone
Located just about an hour from Cody, Yellowstone’s East Entrance receives far less traffic than the park’s other gates, meaning you may not have to wait in line at all in order to visit Yellowstone. It’s also by far the most scenic entrance to the park. In fact, President Teddy Roosevelt described the highway between Cody and the East Entrance as “the most beautiful 50 miles in America,” and that’s before you even enter Yellowstone! This route from Cody will take you along the North Fork of the Shoshone River through a pristine canyon with stunning rock formations on either side. Western wildlife like bison, mountain sheep, elk, and even grizzly bears are all over this area, so you’ll want to make sure that someone in your vehicle has a camera at the ready. Don’t drive too fast, or you might miss something.
In Cody, You’re Never Far From Adventure
For a town of not even 10,000 people, you’ll be pleasantly surprised at how much the Cody area has to offer in the way of activities, performances, and adventures. Whether you want to catch Dan Miller’s Cowboy Music Revue at The Colonel, saddle up for a trail ride up Cedar Mountain, or take the family for a whitewater rafting trip through Red Rock Canyon, there’s something for everyone who comes through Cody, Wyoming, on the way to visit Yellowstone. Better yet, stay a few nights and discover roads less traveled that most Yellowstone visitors miss. The absolutely jaw-dropping vistas of the Beartooth Highway between Wyoming and Montana make for an eminently memorable day trip, and the Heart Mountain Interpretive Center is something that everyone should experience.
World-Class, Historic Hotels and Lodges
The Cody area offers a wide variety of lodging options, from brand-new hotels within city limits to a smattering of guest lodges located off the highway that leads to Yellowstone. Seated in the very heart of Cody, the famous Irma Hotel was built by William F. Cody, known as “Buffalo Bill,” and first opened back in 1902. Named after Cody’s daughter, the Irma is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. It’s still a great place to stay and eat. For a true mountain experience, book your stay at one of the lodges up the canyon east of Cody. The closest of these to Yellowstone’s East Entrance is Pahaska Tepee Resort, which still includes the original lodge built by Cody himself at the turn of the 20th century.
Cody’s Unique Legacy
William F. Cody first explored the region that’s now home to Cody back in the 1870s. He was so taken with the opportunities presented by the region that he returned in the mid-1890s, founding his namesake town in 1896. The Buffalo Bill Dam stood as the highest concrete arch dam in the world upon its completed in January 1910, enabling farming on some 90,000 acres and setting the stage for broader settlement of the Bighorn Basin, one of the last regions to be settled in the United States. The rich history of Cody should not be missed by any traveler. When in Cody, make a point of visiting the Buffalo Bill Center of the West, which houses five distinct museums, for insight into those formative years and to learn about the transformation of this incredible landscape.