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Experience the 'Wild-West' in Cody, Wyoming

Updated: Jan 19, 2022


Just 52 miles from the East Entrance to Yellowstone National Park - Cody, Wyoming is well worth spending a long weekend as you travel to or from Yellowstone or as it's own weekend getaway. Known for it's wild-west atmosphere and the city's founder, Colonel William Frederick "Buffalo Bill" Cody, this town offers a wealth of activities for those wanting to experience a bit of the 'Wild West'. Here is how we spend a fun-filled three days visiting Cody, Wyoming.

Historical buildings of Old Town Trail in Cody, Wyoming
Cody, Wyoming - where the 'wild-west' comes alive!

TABLE OF CONTENTS:


DAY 1:


DAY 2:


DAY 3:

 

PONDEROSA CAMPGROUND

  Entrance sign for the Ponderosa Campground in Cody, Wyoming
Arriving to the Ponderosa Campground in Cody

Day 1: For most people, this will mostly be a travel day. For us it was a 13.5 hour drive from home. Upon arrival, we checked into our cabin at the Ponderosa Campground. Comfortable heated cabins, clean restrooms and a great playground makes the Ponderosa Campground a perfect base while exploring the town of Cody.





Little boy swinging on porch swing at the cabins at Ponderosa Campground
We loved our cabin at the Ponderosa Campground
 

CODY VISITOR CENTER

 Mom and son standing in front of buffalo statue at the Cody Visitor Center
Outside the Visitor Center in Cody, Wyoming

After spending a bit of time enjoying the porch swing at our cabin - we decided to make a visit to the Cody Visitor Center - the building itself is an old historic building and was a great place to stop and pick up a few brochures and browse the exhibits. The center also provided a few fun photo ops that got us into the 'Wild-West' spirit!





A 'Wanted' poster at the Cody Visitor Center
A couple good for nothing outlaws!
 

CODY CATTLE COMPANY

 Father and son standing out front of the Cody Cattle Company building
Cody Cattle Company - Dinner & Show

Soon it was time to head over to the Cody Cattle Company for a chuckwagon dinner and western-themed music show. Running nightly during the summer season, this was a great way to kick off our time in Cody after our long day of driving. Dinner starts at 5pm and runs to 7:30 (timed to end so you can get over to the nightly Cody Rodeo by 8pm). The music was great, and we loved the all you can eat beef brisket and bbq chicken, also don't forget the brownies for dessert!


Eating dinner at the Cody Cattle Company
Enjoying our delicious chuckwagon dinner!
Live Western entertainment at the Cody Cattle Company
Entertainment at the Cody Cattle Company
 

BUFFALO BILL CENTER OF THE WEST

Statue of Buffalo Bill Cody in front of the Buffalo Bill Center of the West
Buffalo Bill Center of the West

Day 2: Museum Day! One of the best things to visit in Cody is the Buffalo Bill Center of the West which is actually five museums in one, including the Buffalo Bill Museum, Plains Indian Museum, Cody Firearms Museum, Draper Natural History Museum, & the Whitney Western Art Museum. We spent most of our day here as there is a wealth of things to see and enjoy. In fact, the ticket for the Buffalo Bill Center of the West is actually good for two consecutive days. From authentic tee-pees to handling buffalo skulls to viewing the beautiful western themed art, there is a bit of something for everyone to enjoy!




An exhibit of three buffalo inside the Buffalo Bill Center of the West
Buffalo Exhibit at the Draper Natural History Museum
Mother and son looking at a buffalo skull inside the Buffalo Bill Center of the West
Great learning experience - looking at a buffalo skull
Two story yellow house that was Buffalo Bill's childhood home
Buffalo Bill's childhood home

We particularly liked the Buffalo Bill Museum that focused on the life and history of the town's namesake - William 'Buffalo Bill' Cody and even included his actual home that he grew up in (the entire house has been moved to this site). In addition, we really enjoyed the Cody Firearms Museum where we were able to test our shooting skills a the Buffalo Bill's Shooting Gallery arcade. The 'Wild West' definitely comes alive as you explore these museums.


A man shooting a gun at a Buffalo Bill arcade game
Having some fun at the Cody Firearms Musem
 

BUFFALO BILL DAM

The entrance to the Buffalo Bill Dam Visitor Center
Buffalo Bill Dam Visitor Center

Once we had our fill of exploring the museums, we drove out to the Buffalo Bill Dam along the Shoshone River. In 1910 when this dam was built, this was the tallest concrete dam in the world at 325 feet high and was named after William 'Buffalo Bill' Cody. There is a wonderful Visitor Center here that provides an overview of the history of the dam and it's significance in irrigating the Bighorn Basin from sagebrush to usable productive land.


Looking across the Buffalo Bill Dam
325 foot high Buffalo Bill Dam
Looking down from the Buffalo Bill Dam at the canyon walls along the Shoshone River
View of the canyon walls on the Shoshone River from the Dam
 

CODY NITE RODEO

Family of three standing out front of the Cody Nite Rodeo
Cody Nite Rodeo at Stampede Park

To finish off the day, we attended the Cody Nite Rodeo. First started in 1938, the Cody Nite Rodeo is the longest running, nightly rodeo in the world. This was Brecken's first rodeo and he absolutely loved it! We arrived a bit early to the Rodeo and had time to even ride a bull! 'Mongo' the bull is available for pictures prior to the start of the show and it's pretty fun to say that we were able to 'ride a bull'! Spending the evening at this wonderful venue definitely gets you into that 'Western' spirit!

Little boy looking at bulls at the Cody Nite Rodeo
We had fun wandering around and seeing all the bulls!
Mom and son sitting on top of a bull at the Cody Nite Rodeo
Riding 'Mongo' the Bull!
Little boy in a cowboy hat riding a fake bull at the Cody Nite Rodeo
Future Cowboy!
 

IRMA HOTEL & RESTAURANT

Day 3: Start off you morning at the historic Irma Restaurant. The Irma Hotel was built by Buffalo Bill in 1902 and is named after his daughter Irma Cody. Inside the restaurant have a look at the famous bar that was given to Buffalo Bill by Queen Victoria. I highly recommend the delicious breakfast buffet - fill up and get set for another day of adventuring!

 
Old Wagon at the entrance to Old Town Trail in Cody, Wyoming
Old Trail Town in Cody, Wyoming

OLD TOWN TRAIL

After breakfast, to experience a bit of true 'Wild West' head to the Old Trail Town. Here you can view a collection of original 1890's frontier buildings that are located where the original town of Cody was established. Various historic buildings from Wyoming and Montana were carefully moved to this location and even includes the saloon where Butch Cassidy and the 'Hole-in-the-wall' Gang used to hang out - the saloon door even features bullet holes! The super great thing about this site is that all the buildings are authentic and not replicas.

View down the main boardwalk of Old Town Trail of original 'old' western buildings
27 buildings have been reconstructed at Old Town Trail
Mother and son near a giant old wagon wheel in Old Town Trail
Old Town Trail is a great family activity
 

DOWNTOWN CODY

Ready for a break? Head back into downtown Cody to Annie's Soda Saloon & Cafe - we enjoyed some delicious sandwiches here - but the real treat are the old fashioned ice cream sodas - huckleberry was our favorite! Absolutely delicious!

After filling up at Annie's, spend some time exploring downtown Cody - souvenir shops, art galleries and wonderful restaurants line the streets of this historic western town. This is a great place to just stroll and enjoy the atmosphere! June to September, Cody also offers a nightly 'Wild Bunch Gunfighters Show' at 6pm in front of the Irma Hotel - unfortunately, while we were in town it was cancelled due to rain!

Father and son in stroller near a statue of a buffalo in downtown Cody, Wyoming
Strolling the streets of down Cody, Wyoming

To cap off our time in Cody, we enjoyed a wonderful dinner at Bubba's Bar-B-Que Restaurant - nothing says 'wild-west' like a plate of ribs and brisket! Absolutely delicious!

Bubba's Bar-B-Que Restaurant in Cody, Wyoming
Great spot for dinner - Bubba's Bar-B-Que Restaurant
 

Interested in planning your own trip to Cody, Wyoming? Below is our summarized itinerary for you to follow or adjust to your own preferences. ENJOY!


Day 1: Drive to Cody. Get settled into campground, stop by the Cody Visitor Center, then dinner at the Cody Cattle Company (5-7:30 Dinner and Show $30).


Day 2: Explore Cody: Buffalo Bill Center of the West (Open 8-6 tickets good for two days), Buffalo Bill Dam, Cody Nite Rodeo (Gates open at 7, Rodeo starts at 8)


Day 3: Explore Cody: Irma Hotel/Restaurant (eat Breakfast Buffet here), Old Trail Ghost Town(8am to 7pm, $9), Lunch at Annie's Soda Saloon & Cafe, Stroll downtown Cody, Nightly 'Wild Bunch Gunfighters Show' - 6pm in front of the Irma Hotel.

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