Driving From Cody to Yellowstone? 5 Stops That Are Totally Worth It | Big Horn Basin Media

Driving From Cody to Yellowstone? 5 Stops That Are Totally Worth It

Written by on April 1, 2023

An Unforgettable Drive From Cody to Yellowstone

If your Yellowstone National Park adventure includes a scenic drive from Cody to Yellowstone’s East Entrance, congratulations. You’re going to see some of the Yellowstone region’s most stunning sights before you even enter America’s first national park.

President Theodore Roosevelt once called this route “the most beautiful 50 miles in America.” US 14/16/20 runs along the North Fork of the Shoshone River through a gorgeous canyon filled with sheer cliffs, lush pines, vibrant wildflowers, and iconic wildlife.

There’s a lot to take in as you cruise along, and with so many sights to see near Cody, it can be easy to miss some of the best parts of this trip. That’s why we put together this list of the five places every Yellowstone visitor should stop when driving from Cody to Yellowstone National Park.

Buffalo Bill Dam

Rising 350 feet above the canyon floor, the Buffalo Bill Dam was the key that unlocked irrigation in the Bighorn Basin, allowing Americans to settle one of the nation’s most geographically isolated regions.

It was William F. Cody himself who turned his property rights over to the Secretary of the Interior in 1904 so that construction could begin. The dam was completed in 1910 — one of the nation’s first concrete arch-gravity dams and, at the time, the highest dam in the world.

The dam created the Buffalo Bill Reservoir, which supports agriculture throughout the Bighorn Basin and is a great place for marine recreation including boating and fishing.

Along with its three tunnels, the dam is a great place to stop as you drive from Cody to Yellowstone. It will help you understand some of the region’s history and the importance of agriculture in this area. Plus, it’s quite a sight, and a fun experience for kids.

If you want a pleasant spot to enjoy some time outside your vehicle, the nearby Buffalo Bill State Park — on the shore of the reservoir — is a prime destination.

Red Barn & Smith Mansion

As you pass through Wapiti on your drive from Cody to Yellowstone, you’ll find the Red Barn gas station and convenience store on your left. It’s wise to top off your gas tank here, since the next fuel stop will be at Fishing Bridge.

Plus, Red Barn has a great selection of snacks and beverages. If you haven’t had a Wilcoxson’s fudge bar, Red Barn is the place to solve that problem.

Right next door, up on the hill to your southwest, you’ll see the iconic Smith Mansion. This property comes with quite a tale — including the tragic fate of its builder — and is likely the most unique structure you’ll see on your entire Yellowstone trip.

It’s private property, so please don’t trespass. But there’s nothing wrong with a photo from a respectable distance.

Mummy Cave

There’s no sign directing you to this incredible piece of history on the drive from Cody to Yellowstone, nor is there a parking lot. But Mummy Cave is only about a hundred yards from the highway.

Despite its ease of access, thousands upon thousands of Yellowstone visitors pass by this historical site without ever knowing it’s there.

Discovered by Gene Smith in 1957, Mummy Cave was full of artifacts, animal bones, and other indicators of human presence that spanned some 9,000 years. It’s incredible to think just how long people used this site, apparently as a base for their hunting operations.

It’s called Mummy Cave because, while excavating the site, researchers came across the body of a man, which dates back to roughly 770 CE.

Read more about this incredible location in our overview of impressive facts about Wyoming’s Mummy Cave.

If you go, you’ll find the alcove at the base of a cliff along the river. It’s a pleasant spot, but don’t expect to be able to enter the “cave” or see any artifacts.

That said, it’s awe-inspiring to stand at this site and consider how many people used it for hunting over thousands of years.

Sleeping Giant Ski Area & Zipline

As you get closer to the East Entrance on your way from Cody to Yellowstone, look for Sleeping Giant Ski Area & Zipline on the south side of the river, directly across from the Shoshone Lodge and Guest Ranch.

Yellowstone adventures aren’t all history and scenery. A zip line tour here is an exhilirating way to immerse yourself in the outdoors and see Yellowstone country in a unique way.

The 2023 season runs from June 15-September 15.

Sleeping Giant has dual lines, so you can race side-by-side with a partner. The line runs in five sections, with varying lengths from 360 to 930 feet. Expect vertical drops of as much as 84 feet.

Although most people visit during the summer months, this is also a fantastic spot for winter sports. If you’re headed to Yellowstone during winter, make sure you pack your skis or board!

Pahaska Teepee Resort

“Pahaska” is a Sioux word meaning “long hair,” and it was given to Buffalo Bill himself. At Pahaska Teepee Resort, just a couple of miles from the park’s East Entrance, you’ll find Cody’s original hunting lodge.

The lodge’s opening was announced July 5, 1904. You can still tour the original lodge — bonus points if you can guess what those glass globes on the walls are for!

The present-day resort of course includes a gorgeous restaurant and gift shop, plus a number of guest cabins. If you can get reservations, Pahaska makes a superb base camp for all your Yellowstone adventures, since it’s the closest lodging to the East Entrance.

Pahaska is a fantastic place to fish and see wildlife. Moose can sometimes be seen along the river, and you wouldn’t be the first person to see a grizzly bear on the other side of the river while having dinner on the patio.

You can also stop for trail rides at Pahaska. Horseback is one of the best modes of transportation for getting out into the Shoshone National Forest and exploring nature.

Before you hit the highway to drive from Cody to Yellowstone National Park, check out our guide to some of the spectacular wildlife to watch for on the North Fork Highway.

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