by Matt, Dec 2021

EVERYONE told me that Cody, Wyoming was amazing, but it took me until this year to finally make it there. It did not disappoint!

If you’re going to visit Cody, Wyoming, I’m here to help!

In this article, we’ll cover:

Quick Background

Cody, Wyoming was established by Buffalo Bill Cody in the 1800s to take advantage of a tourist attraction that was starting to become quite popular: Yellowstone. Today, people still stop at Cody today on their way in and out of Yellowstone National Park.

This video has over 400,000 views – it’s a great overview of Cody

Top Ten Things To do

1. Buffalo Bill Center of the West

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The Unparalleled Buffalo Bill Center of the West

The Buffalo Bill Center of the West is EASILY the number one thing to do in Cody. It’s a world-class facility. It’s shocking they have such a nice museum in such a small town.

This is often referred to as the Buffalo Bill Museum, but it’s actually five different museums under one roof:

But they also offer other experiences:

image of buffalo bill museum
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Recommendations

There’s something for every visitor here. Here are my main takeaways and recommendations for visiting the Buffalo Bill Center of the West:

2. Cody Rodeo

Cody Rodeo grounds

Cody bills itself as the “Rodeo Capital of the World.”

It claims it has the longest-running professional rodeo in the world and the only place in the country that has a rodeo performance nightly.

There are actually two rodeo events here:

For many people, this is the main reason they visit Cody, Wyoming. Unfortunately, I missed it by one day.

3. Buffalo Bill’s Irma Hotel

image of irma hotel

The Irma Hotel is famous for being the hotel that was established by Buffalo Bill Cody shortly after he established the town.

He named the hotel after his daughter, Irma.

I recommend staying at “The Irma,” as it is known. But even if you don’t stay here, I highly recommend visiting the hotel and eating in the restaurant.

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This was supposedly given to Buffalo Bill by Queen Victoria

Inside the restaurant is an elaborate bar. Legend says Queen Victoria donated this to Buffalo Bill in 1900. This is an accepted fact in Cody, but I’m not sure it’s actually true.

4. Old Trail Town

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Old Trail Town

Old Trail Town is a really cool place if you like learning about the Old West. It has three sections.

Frontier Town

This is a collection of historical and authentic Old West buildings. The man who started Old Trail Town went around the West purchasing historic cabins and buildings before they were destroyed. He then moved them to this location in Cody.

It’s not actually laid out like a “town.” (It would be even more amazing if it was.) Rather, the buildings are placed side-by-side in a courtyard.

However, in an age when so many fake western buildings exist, the authenticity of the Old Trail Town buildings makes this a very enjoyable experience.

Some interesting buildings include:

Mountain Man Memorials

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Sculpture of Mountain Man John Colter

There are beautiful busts of four different mountain men who ventured through this area in the early 1800s:

Gravesites

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Interestingly, the owner also moved the graves of some famous westerners to Old Trail Town:

Jeremiah Johnston was played by Robert Redford in the movie Jeremiah Johnson. After the movie was released, a group of school kids petitioned to move Jeremiah Johnson’s grave from California to the West, where he wanted to be buried.

The owner of Old Trail Town paid for it and held a funeral procession. One of the pallbearers was Robert Redford.

Watch the movie; it’s awesome!

5. Wild Horses

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Wild horses, or mustangs, roam all over the west, mostly on public land owned by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM).

The McCullogh Peaks Wild Horse Herd is located just east of Cody. Anyone can visit the area and try to find the horses.

NOTE: Mustangs are WILD and will attack if you get too close! So keep your distance.

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Here we are looking for mustangs on our tour

However, the area is kind of a sprawling area and it might be difficult to find them on your own. The roads are also a little difficult to navigate.

So I booked a tour through Red Canyon Wild Mustang Tours. It lasts 3 hours and you’ll ride in a van with the tour guide, stopping occasionally to get out and look at the horses.

This is not a zoo; these are wild animals. So it’s possible you won’t see any. But the guide told me he’s only had one tour in many years where he didn’t see any horses.

I have to admit, I was glad I booked the tour because I wouldn’t have had any idea of where to go to find them.

6. Buffalo Bill Dam & Visitor Center 

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Located just west of town is the Buffalo Bill Dam and Visitor Center.

This site is part engineering, part recreation, part history, and part scenery. 

And it’s FREE!

7. Cody Firearms Experience

image of two men, one holding a shooting target

You know when you get that strange hankerin’ to shoot a Gatling Gun, but there just aren’t any around for you to shoot?

Well, problem solved.

The Cody Firearms Experience is probably the most “Wyoming” thing you can do.

They have a shooting range where you can shoot many kinds of guns:

But their most popular is the Gatling Gun. It only takes a few seconds to fire off all your shots (and money), but it’s still pretty cool! Watch my video above to see me in action.

8. Heart Mountain War Relocation Center

image of heart mountain relocation center

The Heart Mountain War Relocation Center is a World War II site. Who knew that Cody was the site of World War II history? 

Northwest of Cody is a mountain peak called Heart Mountain. 

Nearby, a relocation center was set up during World War II to house Japanese-Americans who were removed under executive order by Franklin D. Roosevelt. 

There were over 600 buildings to house those who were moved here. Luckily, a few buildings survive. 

Stop in at the visitor center for exhibits and a movie about relocation during the war. Then drive to the buildings they lived in and go for a walk on the scenic loop. 

9. Cody Trolley Tours 

If you want to get a good overview of the town and learn some “history,” give the Cody Trolley Tours ride a try.  

The old-timey trolley is cute and the high-energy tour guide is a hoot. 

The trolley drives through the town of Cody before heading out to Buffalo Bill Dam. However, it does not stop to allow you to get out and see the dam. 

This is mostly entertainment with nuggets of education. If it’s real history you’re after, the Buffalo Bill Center of the West will take care of that for you. 

10. Cody Gun Fight

The Cody Gun Fight is also put on by Cody Trolley Tours.

This is a FREE gunfight reenactment put on just outside The Irma Hotel.

The show runs daily (except Sundays) and starts at 6:00 pm, but they recommend getting there a few minutes early. You can buy a reserved front-row seat for $3 on their website.

Other things to do

These didn’t make the top ten, but they might still be up your alley!

Shows

There are two productions that are popular in Cody. Unfortunately, we couldn’t attend either.

Cody’s Wild West Spectacular is a two-hour play about Buffalo Bill with dancing, singing, music, and humor. I heard this is a must-see, but it wasn’t playing when we were there.

Dan Miller’s Cowboy Music Review is a dinner and show. Locals told me I must see this, but I couldn’t. Oh well, there’s always next time.

More Museums

image of cody heritage museum

The Buffalo Bill Center of the West isn’t the only museum in this one-horse town. There are actually quite a few interesting museums in Cody.

Buffalo Bill Scenic Byway

This is a spectacular road connecting Cody to Yellowstone. I didn’t list it on the Top Ten because it’s not really “in” Cody. Also, I’m assuming if you’re visiting Cody you’re also visiting Yellowstone and you’ll be driving on this road anyway.

But there’s more to do here than just drive the road. There are many campgrounds and resorts along this scenic byway.

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Pahaska Tepee is one of the places to stay between Yellowstone & Cody

Hiking

There are quite a few trails in Cody and nearby in the hills. I didn’t get the chance to do any of them, but I would refer you to AllTrails to find some.

River rafting

There are also quite a few companies that offer guided river rafting trips, such as Wyoming River Trips, Cody Wyoming Adventures, and River Runners.

Fishing

There are also a handful of fishing guides in Cody, such as North Fork Anglers, Wyoming Trout Guides Fly Shop, and High Country Fly Guides.

Yellowstone Tours

image of bison walking on road

There are some companies that offer tours of Yellowstone leaving from Cody. These tours take all day and usually travel around either the Lower Loop or Upper Loop of Yellowstone (watch my video for a quick overview of each loop).

Should you book one of these tours?

Generally, I love tours because they take care of the logistics and they teach you about the place!

But you might want to consider a few things about doing a Yellowstone tour from Cody:

Where to eat in Cody

We ate at multiple places in Cody and enjoyed them ALL.

The Irma Hotel

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We’re eating at the famous Queen Victoria bar in The Irma

I highly recommend this just to experience The Irma, if nothing else.

2 Mules Chuckwagon

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Our Chuckwagon Dinner hosts were awesome!

We really enjoyed this for the food and the company.

This is a chuckwagon cookout where you mingle with the owners and other people. Book this through the Buffalo Bill Center of the West.

WYold West Brewing Company

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Our French Toast Cuban and garlic fries at WYold West

WYold West offers food and A LOT of beer options. We had a Cuban sandwich and a delicious dessert here. We don’t drink, but they had a wall of beer spouts you can choose from.

Granny’s

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Breakfast at Granny’s

Everyone told us to eat breakfast here. So we did! It did not disappoint.

Proud Cut Saloon

We didn’t eat at this steak house but we’ve heard from many people who have.

Fat Racks BBQ

This gets high ratings online.

Noon Break 2 Go

This Mexican restaurant also gets good reviews online.

Hungry Bear Restaurant

With a name like “Hungry Bear,” I’m guessing the portions are huge here. LOL.

Wy Thai

Maybe you wouldn’t think of Thai food in the middle of Wyoming, but this gets good reviews online.

Where to stay in Cody

If you’re looking for an “experience,” stay in The Irma or Chamberlin Inn. For anything else, I recommend using booking.com.

The Irma

This is the oldest lodging in Cody and the most famous. We stayed here and loved it. Each room has a name, such as The Buffalo Bill, the Colonel Cody, and The Max Wilde.

Watch my video above to get a good feel for The Irma.

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We stayed in the Colonel Cody room

Chamberlin Inn

I wish we would have spent a night at the Chamberlin Inn because this place looks really nice. It plays on the old historic theme as well, though it looks a little more upscale than The Irma.

Others

There are more than old historic hotels in Cody. We saw many nice Best Westerns (which we usually recommend; we’ve never stayed in a bad Best Western) and budget hotels.

If you’re just looking for a good value, we recommend using booking.com.

Visiting Yellowstone

If you’re visiting Cody, you’re probably planning on visiting nearby Yellowstone. Of course, Yellowstone is a must-see.

However, I do not recommend staying in Cody to see Yellowstone; it’s too far away.

Even though it’s only 45 minutes to the entrance of Yellowstone, Yellowstone is a BIG place, and it takes a long time just to get from the entrance to the Grand Loop Road, where all the attractions are.

Yellowstone is BIG; That’s why you really need a game plan to see Yellowstone.

Seriously, just to drive around one of the two loops in Yellowstone takes hours, and with so many things to see along the way, it can be very difficult to know which things to stop at.

If you don’t plan it right, you might stop at the wrong sites and skip over the best sites.

That’s why I created a step-by-step game plan for seeing Yellowstone.

I’ve been visiting Yellowstone my entire life, so I’m incredibly familiar with it.

I even include a 3-hour audio guide so you can know the best stories about the park!

Check it out!

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