Cody was founded in 1896 in northwest Wyoming by the legend William “Buffalo Bill” Cody. Located 50 miles from Yellowstone National Park, Cody is often referred to as the “Wildwest way into Yellowstone”. In fact, the city is sought-after by visitors looking for an epic cowboy experience.
Besides the wild-west culture, Cody has an incredible landscape surrounding itself with the Shoshone River cutting the city as a canyon. So, many of the activities include being outdoors and climbing, rafting, hiking, horseback riding, and much more.
Interactive Map of 25 Things to Do in Cody (WY)
1. Buffalo Bill Center of the West
Buffalo Bill Center of the West is an interactive Western museum with exhibitions dedicated to Buffalo Bill, firearms, and natural history. In fact, the building houses 5 different museums, including the Cody Firearms Museum where you will go gun blind and become numb to all the amazingly cleaned up and displayed firearms. The Wild Bill Cody Museum tells the story of Buffalo Bill and the American Road Show.
Besides, the center also features an impressive studio where you can watch leather smith’s make saddles, The Draper Natural History Museum, the Plains Indian Museum, and the Whitney Western Art Museum. There is also a cafeteria, coffeehouse, and gift shop.
2. Old Trail Town
Featuring a collection of ghost-town relics, Old Trail Town recreates the frontier in Buffalo Bill’s original Cody Town. All the buildings are authentic with original items from the early 1800s. These are actual cabins from Wyoming and Montana. For example, you can see The Hole in the Wall Cabin and a barn structure full of artifacts from that period.
The history there will leave you speechless as Jeremiah Johnston is buried in the cemetery on-site. Also, the roping area is a lot of fun for kids and the old-time store is quite popular amongst the grown-ups.
3. Cody Night Rodeo
With very talented cowboys and cowgirls, Cody Night Rodeo is a high-energy rodeo with bulls and broncos. The establishment, which is called Stampede Park, also has a great family atmosphere with kid-friendly events such as the calf scramble. With a beautiful mountain setting, the rodeo offers a very patriotic feeling to those who visit it.
The highlight events include barrel racing, bucking horse, calf roping, team roping, and lasso. Depending on the schedule you might even watch little kids riding their horses. Besides, the announcements by the master of ceremony and the clown Cookie are just as entertaining as the rodeo itself.
4. Buffalo Bill Dam & Visitor Center
Buffalo Bill Dam & Visitor Center is filled with history and facts about the concrete arch dam through film and taxidermy, plus close-up reservoir views. The visitor center also displays interesting sections on fossils found nearby, agricultural information, animal displays, and some Native American background stories.
Located just to the west off the main road between Cody and Yellowstone National Park, it offers beautiful views of the dam itself. If you have the time, try driving to Hayden Arch Bridge to see the lower part of the dam. This is a very nice walk to see the other side of the Cody Dam.
5. Pahaska Tepee
Inserted in the Shoshone National Forest, Pahaska Tepee is a rustic resort established in a historic lodge built by Buffalo Bill in 1904 only 1 mile from Yellowstone National Park. Surrounded by abundant wildlife, pinnacle rock formations, and mountain scenery, Pahaska Tepee is the best accommodation for those visiting Yellowstone.
With a tavern, a restaurant, and a coffee shop, the resort also offers a wide range of activities including horseback riding, trout fishing, and cross country skiing. The hotel also features a museum telling the history of Buffalo Bill’s lodge, plus a guided tour with a very knowledgeable host.
6. The Cody Cattle Company
The Wild West-themed venue of Cody Cattle Company offers a brilliant homestyle American buffet and fantastic live country-western music show. Founded in 2009, this is one of the most popular attractions in Cody and the highlights of the all-you-can-eat buffet include the delicious beef brisket and the barbecue chicken.
The concerts are very interactive, and the cast is great. Overall, this is a unique place in Wyoming with an atmosphere filled with pleasant music and stories. Besides, it has a great price, especially when you combine it with your Cody Night Rodeo ticket.
7. Dead Indian Summit Overlook
Located northwest of Cody, Dead Indian Summit Overlook is a spectacularly scenic spot filled with history. With views of the surrounding White Mountain, Bald Peak, and Dead Indian Hill, the overlook has several stations providing different angles of the area and signs telling the story of Chief Joseph and the Big Hole Massacre.
Plan to go during sunset to take beautiful photos of the view with the curvy roads in the middle of the mountains, rock formations, and deep valleys. There are also tiny little brown chipmunks that are quite popular among the kids.
8. Plains Indian Museum
Exploring the lives of Plains Indian people, cultures, and traditions, Plains Indian Museum is one of the museums located inside the Buffalo Bill Center of the West. The museum’s collections include artifacts and art of the Native American tribes of the West region.
These are spread over the galleries Buffalo and the People, Honor and Celebration, Land of Many Gifts, and Adversity and Renewal. You can explore the history behind the best horseman and stewards of the land, as well as of creation since the beginning of time.
9. Sunlight Bridge
With fantastic views coming and going, Sunlight Bridge is a must-stop on the Chief Joseph Highway. Featuring a large easily accessible parking lot, this is a beautiful spot to stop and stretch your legs while enjoying the views of the Dead Indian Pass. The view is quite breathtaking, but if you are afraid of heights then this is not recommended as you will see the canyon from the bridge.
Make sure to see both sides of the bridge as each side of the river is different. And as you cross the bridge, be sure to stop and go down into the canyon. The views are spectacular!
10. Heart Mountain Interpretive Center
The Heart Mountain Interpretive Center features an interactive tour of a World Warr II Japanese internment settlement in Wyoming. The museum does a very good job of detailing the experience of the internment of Japanese-Americans during World War II. Not to mention showing how difficult it was for many of them to move on with their lives after their experience.
You can take a drive up the nearby hill after the museum and go on a short walking tour to view where they actually lived, although only remnants of original buildings remain. You can also stand between a couple of worn down barracks and walk the trails to get pictures of the hospital and the guard tower.
11. Draper Natural History Museum
Focused on Yellowstone’s sights, sounds, and smells, Draper Natural History Museum is one of the museums located inside the Buffalo Bill Center of the West. There, you will learn more about the wildlife and plants of the region. The most popular displays show real size animals preserved to tell stories and educate the museum’s visitors. Among them are the grizzly bear, the gray wolves, and the free fall bison sculpture.
The museum’s exhibits display details of the ecology and natural history of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. Draper Museum also features a scavenger hunt for the kids and the Raptor Experience which allows you to get close and learn more about birds of prey.
12. Absaroka Bay RV Park
With a nice grass area, Absaroka Bay RV Park is a popular campground close to Yellowstone. The park features 81 full hookup sites, water, sewer, and picnic tables. Also, they offer activities including a museum, a rodeo, a river float trip, and a wild horse tour. And the staff is wonderful, helpful, and knowledgeable of local activities around Cody.
The property is well maintained, always clean, and close to many stores and restaurants, including fast food branches. Besides, there is a grassy area on one end for dogs but no fenced/gated area. However, Beck Dog Park at Beck Lake is a short drive and a very nice area for dogs.
13. Paul Stock Aquatic and Recreation Center
Constructed in 2001, Paul Stock Aquatic and Recreation Center offers many amazing programs and activities. Its amenities include an awesome workout facility with plenty of free weights and cardio equipment as well as cable machines. There are 3 basketball courts, two racketball courts, a kids’ pool, a lap pool, and a hot tub. There is also an indoor water slide.
Memberships are affordable and everything is in good shape. They also offer short term passes for visitors. Overall, the staff is very polite and helpful at a well built and maintained facility.
14. Cody Dug Up Gun Museum
With over 1,000 relic guns, weapons, and accouterments, Cody Dug Up Gun Museum features a vast collection of antique and vintage weapons from the Civil War, both World Wars, and other periods. The museum is always looking to expand its collection and keeps a campaign to purchase dug up and relic weapons.
Not only is the museum packed with guns, but the owner also takes the time to explain details about his favorite pieces. Overall, the museum offers a very genuine atmosphere of history. Not to mention the passion for guns, which is seen on the faces of the people who work there.
15. Bill Cody Ranch
Located on the margins of North Fork Shoshone River, Bill Cody Ranch is a scenic dude ranch retreat with a restaurant, saloon, and game room. The ranch offers log cabins next to the river and horseback riding near Yellowstone. You can also sit around the campfire at night and have some delicious s’mores, test your roping skills on dummy steers, fly-fish, and access over 940 miles of hiking trails in the Absaroka Mountain Range.
The ranch itself is very cute and it feels like a little mini town. It is not sitting right on the side of the road like some of the other places are. And there is a sense of community, not to mention the privacy from the main road.
16. Buffalo Bill State Park
Established in 1957, Buffalo Bill State Park features campgrounds, picnic areas, trails, and other activities. The park has a great location for travel to Yellowstone and around Cody, as well as the Bear Tooth Pass up into Montana. Due to its location, the park is great for star gazing at night.
Adjacent to the park, Buffalo Bill Reservoir is very big, and the water is very clear. The lake offers many activities including swimming, boating, fishing, and more. The park also has a library building to borrow books while you are there and firewood available for donations.
17. Cedar Mountain Trail Rides
Cedar Mountain Trail Rides offer the most authentic experience in the Wild West, horseback riding for the whole family. Be prepared for an adventure like no other as you ride horses along the scenic trails of Cedar Mountain. The horses will take you to the top of the mountain to admire an amazing view of the town.
The animals are very tame and nice, and the guides are all very helpful, cautious, and knowledgeable. Besides, the staff is great at matching everyone up with the right horse since they know the horses and their personalities.
18. Beartooth Basin Summer Ski Area
Beartooth Basin Summer Ski Area was firstly built in the 1960s as a downhill racing track and it is now a popular ski destination in Wyoming. Besides being able to ski the entire year, you will meet very nice people around the ski area.
The area itself is a must-drive near Cody, especially if you are on a motorcycle. Do yourself and your family a favor and drive (or ride) this highway. The views are the most breathtaking, and there are several great spots along the way to stop and take in the views.
19. Shoshone National Forest
The scenic Shoshone National Forest covers 2.4 million acres of wilderness with mountains, glaciers, and wildlife, plus trails and campgrounds. Part of the Yellowstone Timberland Reserve, Shoshone was actually the first national forest in the US. The landscape is very unique and diverse, ranging from sagebrush flats to rugged mountains and snow-capped peaks.
Overall, there is so much to see and so many trails allowing you to do so. Besides, not only is the scenery stunning during the daytime, but the star gazing at night is nothing but incredible and breathtaking.
20. Cody Firearms Museum
Home to the most complete collection of American firearms in the world, Cody Firearms Museum is one of the museums located inside the Buffalo Bill Center of the West. The museum exhibits numerous showcases classified in chronological order, all provided with care and attention to detail. Besides learning more about American and Old West History, be sure to watch the video of the wild west show.
Overall, the museum’s collection of guns is over the top with over 7,000 firearms and 30,000 firearms-related artifacts. Also, the staff will be happy to share their knowledge and answer any questions you might have.
21. Riley Arena and Community Events Center
Adjacent to Paul Stock Aquatic and Recreation Center, Riley Arena and Community Events Center is an ice skating rink with good concession stands and friendly staff. From August to March, it is home to the Park County Youth Hockey Association, the Yellowstone Quake Tier III Junior Hockey Team, and the Absaroka Figure Skating Club. But, of course, you can simply pop-in, rent your skating gear and have fun with the entire family.
On the other hand, from April to August it is one of the main sports venues in Cody. Besides athletic events, the building also hosts concerts, conferences, banquets, and weddings.
22. Yellowstone National Park
Only one hour away from Cody, the renowned Yellowstone National Park was established in 1872 so people could enjoy the unique hydrothermal and geologic wonders of this area. Think of limitless biodiversity, a place that in just a few hours gives you the chance to see wild animals like bears and bison roaming freely, as well as geysers.
With vibrant colors, the Grand Prismatic Pool enchants anyone who visits it. Other attractions of Yellowstone are the Old Faithful Geyser gushing liters of water and the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone with its yellowish colors cut out by the Yellowstone waterfall. So, whether you go hiking or kayaking along the Yellowstone Lake you will be amazed. This is a place worth visiting, which will take you a few days to explore.
23. Grand Teton National Park
Grand Teton National Park is filled with rich and extraordinary wildlife, pristine lakes, and an alpine landscape. With over two hundred miles of trails and incredible floating and rafting opportunities along the Snake River, this park is remembered by its visitors as tranquil and remarkable. The hiking trails at Grand Teton vary in lengths to accommodate hikers of all levels and families as well. It also provides well-paved bike trails for easy peddling.
Make sure to look out for grizzly bears at Oxbow Bend, bison off the main highway, black bears, and moose on Moose Wilson road. And if you happen to be there during fall, pay attention to the golden aspens and red hawthorns that give color to the roads and lakes.
24. Whitney Western Art Museum
Displaying artwork focused on the West, Whitney Western Art Museum is one of the museums located inside the Buffalo Bill Center of the West. Besides paintings and sculptures, the museum also features activities for all ages and interests. In this museum, the history of the West is told by wildlife, landscapes, Native Americans, heroes and legends, and historic events.
Considered as one of the best western art museums in the country, the museum’s exhibits explore traditional and contemporary artists. These include Charlie Russell, Frederic Remington, Thomas Moran, Albert Bierstadt, and more.
25. Granny’s Restaurant
Offering homestyle American meals served up from early morning to night, Granny’s Restaurant features a relaxed space with a patio. This is your typical diner restaurant with small-town vibes where you can have great conversations with locals and learn more about the local history.
Granny’s is truly a diner throwback to the ‘50s offering typical diner food and breakfast being served all day long. The most popular dishes include the three-egg omelet, the pancakes, and the chicken fried steak. Not to mention the unlimited coffee refill.