First founded in 1895 by “Buffalo Bill” Cody, the city of Cody his a rich history firmly tied to the American frontier. A notorious buffalo hunter and traveling performer, Cody encountered the area in the 1870s and was quickly impressed by its development possibilities due to irrigation, quality soil, good hunting, and the spectacular scenery of nearby Yellowstone National Park. He later returned to establish the town, naming many of the streets after business associates such as George Bleistein and George T. Beck. Today, the city still revels in its Old West image. Visitors come to the tiny town to rally with locals at rodeos, shoot-outs, and saloons, as well as soak in the breathtaking beauty of the mountains, lakes, waterfalls, and wildlife in the surrounding forest.
Areas & Neighborhoods in Cody
Downtown — The downtown area of Cody centers along the eastern 10 blocks of Sheridan Avenue. Here, you’ll find a lovely city park, steakhouses and saloons, and western-inspired boutiques set in century-old buildings. Along with the historic Cody Theatre, the city’s biggest attraction is the Buffalo Bill Center of the West, an interactive museum dedicated to the founder, firearms, and natural history. Other museums in downtown include the Whitney Western Art Museum and the Cody Dug Up Gun Museum—the latter of which displays a vast collection of antique weapons ranging from the Revolutionary War to World War II. Hotels in and around downtown are found mostly along Highway 14, running for roughly 5 miles (8 km) from the west of the airport. Of these, the most famous is the Irma Hotel, opened by Cody himself in 1902.
Old Trail Town — Lying just about 2 miles (3 km) from the center of Cody, Old Trail Town is a collection of real-life ghost-town relics that recreate the old frontier. Here, you can dive into the region’s rich Western heritage as you wander through historic cabins, see monuments to renowned frontiersmen, and pause to pay your respects at the gravesites of notable mountain men.
Shoshone National Forest — Shoshone National Forest, a 30-minute drive to the west of downtown, is the nation’s first federally protected National Forest. Running from the Wyoming border in the north to Atlantic City in the south, the forest covers 2.5 million acres (1 million ha) of nearly untouched land. Come here to explore more than 1,300 miles (2,092 km) of hiking trails where you’re likely to catch sight of native wildlife such as elk, moose, cougars, bears, and bighorn sheep. There are more than 30 campgrounds if you want to sleep under the stars, or you can find several lodges, ranches, and cabins along the North Fork Highway.
Yellowstone National Park — From the entrance to Shoshone, head west on the highway for 27 miles (43 km) to reach the east entrance of Yellowstone National Park. Spanning 2.2 million acres (.9 million ha) in Wyoming’s upper-left corner, the park is made up of canyons, rivers, mountains, lakes, and of course, the famous Old Faithful Geyser. Toward the southeast side of the park, Yellowstone Lake is centered over the Yellowstone Caldera, the largest supervolcano in North America. Enjoy time to take advantage of park activities such as hiking, biking, camping, boating, and ziplining, before resting up at one of the rustic lodges near the lake.
What to See in Cody
Bask in the mesmerizing beauty of Mother Nature with a drive from Cody to just before the entrance to Yellowstone National Park. Running along the North Fork of the Shoshone River, this incredible stretch of road was once called “the 50 most beautiful miles in America” by President Theodore Roosevelt. See why for yourself as you pass by bubbling creeks, craggy cliffs, and wide-open plains. The road eventually leads you into the park, where panoramic views of dusty mountains, verdant hills, and colorful forests await you. If you’re traveling between May and the start of November, you can keep driving to see the wonders of Yellowstone National Park. However, if you’re visiting in the winter months of November through April, the road will be closed due to safety.
Sightseeing in Cody
Scope out Cody’s most charming sites aboard an old-timey trolley. From Sheridan Avenue, join the Cody Trolley Tour for a ride that takes you to see historic homes, public art, and the Buffalo Bill Reservoir. Over the course of an hour, learn of the story of old Bill Cody, his connection to Annie Oakley, and the mysteries surrounding his burial. Your guide also treats you to other fascinating tales from throughout the city’s history, including robberies, scandals, and even murder. At the end of the tour, you can test your knowledge with a trivia challenge and see if you’ve learned enough to take home the prize.
If you really want to immerse yourself in western-style living, hit the outdoors on horseback with the crew at Cedar Mountain Trail Rides. On the back of the region’s most authentic mode of transportation, trot over rugged trails surrounded by a forest of emerald green. From June through August, you can choose from a variety of rides, from a quick and easy 1-hour excursion to a full-day adventure designed for photography.
Of course, no visit to Cody—the “Rodeo Capital of the World”—would be complete without a stop at the Cody Nite Rodeo. From June through August, you can grab a ticket for a heart-pounding show that’s unlike any other in town. Watch as brave cowboys attempt to stay on the back of their bucking bulls in the very same stadium that’s given rise to world-championship riders and Rodeo Hall of Famers. Before the show, settle in for a homestyle buffet at the Cody Cattle Company. Feast on all-American classics like beef brisket, baked beans, and campfire cornbread as live musicians put a kick in your step with a rousing country-western show.