Founded and named after William ‘Buffalo Bill’ Cody, this small city in the northwest of Wyoming fully embraces its frontier town image and cowboy culture. Besides raucous rodeos for you to enjoy, it boasts lots of terrific tourist attractions related both to its famous founder and the Wild West. Other things to do in Cody include visiting one of the marvelous museums, which offer up a fascinating look at the city and the region’s history, culture, and heritage. Visitors can experience it all for themselves in the self-titled ‘Rodeo Capital of the World’.
In addition to its wealth of ‘Old West’ sights, Cody is surrounded by lots of beautiful landscapes and scenery. Wyoming’s majestic mountains and roaring rivers lend themselves perfectly to all kinds of outdoor activities with hiking, horseback riding, and camping being particularly popular. With the natural riches of Yellowstone National Park also lying nearby, Cody makes for an authentic and entertaining base for exploring the region.
12. Cody Cattle Company
Lying on the outskirts of the city, the Cody Cattle Company has been attracting locals and tourists alike for the last decade with its brilliant buffets and fantastic live music. Founded in 2009, the Wild West-themed venue is ideal for families looking for a fun night out.
At its all-you-can-eat buffet, visitors can enjoy delicious beef brisket and barbecue chicken with lots of sumptuous sides also on offer. Every evening in the summer tourist season, Ryan Martin and the Triple C Cowboys light up the night with a roaring show of country, bluegrass, and blues hit songs.
As the restaurant and entertainment venue are located right next to the Cody Nite Rodeo and Old Trail Town, many people combine their meal and night out with a visit to the two tourist attractions.
Besides being famed for its cowboy culture and Buffalo Bill, Cody is also the perfect place to enjoy the great outdoors. As lots of craggy canyons and majestic mountain ranges lie nearby, there is loads of exhilarating rafting to be had on the wild rivers that course their way through its surroundings.
The Shoshone River has lots of wonderful whitewater rapids for visitors to shoot down with spectacular scenery to be seen on either side. While rafting in Shoshone Canyon is very popular due to the exciting ‘Sitting Bull’ and ‘Crazy Horse’ rapids, the North Fork is just as pleasant and picturesque with lots of wildlife to be spotted along the riverbanks.
In addition, Red Rock Canyon attracts lots of people thanks to its ravishing ruddy rock formations, roaring rapids, and excellent rafting conditions.
10. Go Fishing
As so many rivers and waterways wind their way through the nearby mountains, it should come as no surprise to learn that Cody is a popular place to go fishing. Basking in the stunning, serene, and secluded scenery whilst angling is a lovely way to enjoy the beautiful nature that surrounds the city.
While the North Fork of the Shoshone, once called the ‘fifty most beautiful miles in America’ by Theodore Roosevelt, is a treat to fish along, both Beartooth and Island Lake have lots of rainbow and brook trout for you to catch.
Other idyllic spots to head to are Clarks Fork and Lily Lake; both of which are noted for their scenic and solitary nature. Around Cody, keen anglers and fly fishers can expect to catch lots of trout and cutthroats with Yellowstone National Park also boasting lots of brilliant fishing locations.
Just under an hour’s drive to the east of Cody is the small town of Greybull which makes for a great day trip destination. This is because it is home to a couple of magnificent museums with some awe-inspiring natural rock formations and dinosaur remains also lying nearby.
While the Greybull Museum has lots of fascinating Native American and pioneer artifacts for you to peruse, the Museum of Flight and Aerial Firefighting has rows and rows of gleaming old planes to wander past.
On the outskirts of town, you will not only find the Devil’s Kitchen but also the Red Gulch Dinosaur Track Site. While they both boast some astounding rock formations and landscapes, the latter also has some incredible 160 million-year-old dinosaur tracks on show.
8. Cody Trolley Tours
One of the most popular and pleasant ways to see all of the city’s tourist attractions is to take a Cody Trolley Tour. Meandering their way between the town’s standout sights, these fun and friendly tours will teach you all there is to know about the Old West and Cody itself.
Founded in 2001, the family-run business has provided countless people with educative, energetic, and entertaining tours ever since. Each sixty-minute multimedia performance sees historic photos and age-old artifacts handed around while guides narrate the history of the landmarks you pass by.
Traveling around town in the traditional old red and green trolleybuses is loads of fun thanks to the interactive and humorous nature of the presenters. Besides seeing the center of the city, the tour also takes you to see some of the ‘new west’ attractions that have sprung up over the years and highlight the region’s rich cowboy culture and heritage.
7. Buffalo Bill State Park
Centred around the Buffalo Bill Reservoir and Dam, the stupendous state park of the same name offers up loads of outstanding outdoor recreation opportunities. Besides its sparkling waters and long and scenic shoreline, the park also protects some lovely landscapes, nature, and scenery.
Founded in 1957, it is named after William ‘Buffalo Bill’ Cody who established the nearby city and worked tirelessly to increase agriculture and irrigation in the region. When completed in 1910, the park’s dam was remarkably the highest in the world at ninety-nine meters in height. At the visitor center, there are interesting exhibits on the history of the dam, region, and Buffalo Bill to check out.
Along the shores of the reservoir, visitors can also enjoy hiking, picnicking, and camping with some great fishing and boating to be had on its tranquil waters. One of the most stunning sections of the park is the spectacular Shoshone Canyon which is not to be missed due to its staggering scenery and dramatic landscapes.
6. Heart Mountain Interpretive Center
Nestled away just fifteen kilometers to the north of Cody is the Heart Mountain Interpretive Center which is where thousands upon thousands of Japanese Americans were interned during World War II.
Following the bombing of Pearl Harbor, the US government forcibly rounded up and incarcerated over 120,000 people of Japanese ancestry, placing them in ten concentration camps around the country. Considered to be the best-preserved of these camps, the Heart Mountain Interpretive Center is well worth visiting for the glimpse it offers into this oft overlooked and unjust part of America’s past.
Besides wandering around barracks and remnants of the hospital complex, there are lots of photos, artifacts, and emotive exhibits that shine a light on the anti-Asian prejudice and enforced confinement that Japanese Americans faced.
5. Shoshone National Forest
Established all the way back in 1891, Shoshone was the first federally protected National Forest to be founded in the whole of the United States. Sprawling over a huge part of northwest Wyoming, it encompasses lots of verdant forests, marvelous mountains, and wonderful wilderness.
Named after the Shoshone Indians who have inhabited the region for millennia, the park protects lots of diverse ecosystems and wildlife with elk, cougars, and grizzly bears to be found within its confines. Very mountainous in nature, it includes nine of the ten highest peaks in the state with the 4,210-meter-high Gannett Peak being the tallest of the lot.
Dotted about its untouched and unspoiled landscapes are over 500 shimmering lakes with over 1,600 kilometers of streams and rivers gushing here and there. Due to all the incredible nature and scenery on show, Shoshone National Forest is very popular with outdoor enthusiasts. Besides hiking and horseback riding in the forest, visitors can also enjoy fishing, camping, and mountain climbing.
4. Buffalo Bill Dam
Once the highest dam in the world, Buffalo Bill Dam still makes for an impressive sight as the sheer and scenic walls of Shoshone Canyon lie either side of it. Located just fifteen minutes’ drive from the center of Cody, it is now a very popular attraction and viewpoint.
Completed in 1910 after numerous setbacks and years of wrangling with workers and contractors, the dam and adjoining reservoir are named after William ‘Buffalo Bill’ Cody. Towering ninety-nine meters in height, the concrete arch-gravity dam was built to irrigate the Bighorn Basin and turn the arid plain into arable and agricultural land.
At its small visitor center there are a number of interesting and informative exhibits on not only the dam and its surroundings but also Buffalo Bill and Cody. However, the highlight is walking along the dam and peering down into the gorgeous canyon that stretches before you.
3. Cody Stampede Rodeo
Just a short drive from the center of town is where the chaotic, captivating, and colorful Cody Stampede Rodeo takes place each and every year. The largest and liveliest rodeo in the region, it sees cowboys from all over the country congregate in Cody to compete in seven different events.
Held on and around the 4th July, the rodeo was started all the way back in 1919 by Buffalo Bill and his Wild West Show. Not only a fun-filled event with parades and competitions, it now also serves to preserve and promote the rich cowboy history, culture, and heritage.
Attending the rodeo really is one of the best and most memorable things to do in Cody as the whole city and community mobilizes around the event. If you’re not in town around the 4th July, fear not, as the Cody Nite Rodeo holds nightly bull riding and steer wrestling shows from June to August.
2. Old Trail Town
Located right next to the grounds where the Cody Stampede Rodeo and Cody Nite Rodeo are held is one of the city’s top tourist attractions: Old Trail Town. Both a memorial to and museum of the ‘Old West’, it boasts a unique collection of old historic buildings, furnishings, and artifacts that will really take you back in time.
Collected from around Wyoming and Montana, its historic structures were remarkably disassembled before being moved and reconstructed in Old Trail Town. Not only will you find Butch Cassidy’s original cabin here but also the grave of the famed mountain man Jeremiah Johnson.
A great day out for all of the family, Old Trail Town offers up a fascinating look at the life and times in a frontier town. As well as wandering around its well-preserved cabins, stores, and saloon, there are also numerous exhibits, displays, and artifacts on the history of the Old West.
1. Buffalo Bill Center of the West
Set right in the heart of the city is the standout sight and sprawling complex of the brilliant Buffalo Bill Center of the West. Home to five magnificent museums, it really is the place to go if you want to learn everything there is to know about the Wild West.
Founded all the way back in 1917 to preserve the legacy of William ‘Buffalo Bill’ Cody, it not only focuses on his life and achievements but also on his influence on the development of the American West. At the Plains Indians Museum, visitors can also learn more about local traditions, cultures, and history while the Draper Natural History Museum explores the region’s ecosystems and wildlife.
Just as captivating are the classic and contemporary Western artworks on display at the Whitney Western Art Museum and the extensive collection of the Cody Firearms Museum. With so many interesting, interactive, and informative exhibitions and installations on offer, the Buffalo Bill Center of the West really is one of the country’s most remarkable museums.