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Cody, Wyoming is known for a few things: cowboys, Kanye West’s new compound, and a great spot to stay if you are visiting the famous Yellowstone National Park. In fact, at 52 miles away from Yellowstone’s East Entrance, Cody is definitely one of the *best* places to stay when visiting the park. But there are a lot more things to do near Cody, Wyoming than just using this outlaw town as a place to rest and recharge!
The 5 Best Things to Do Near Cody, Wyoming that *aren’t* Yellowstone National Park
1. Explore Downtown
The town of Cody was named after its famous founder, Buffalo Bill Cody. Downtown Cody boasts numerous shops, restaurants, and historic locations like the Hotel Irma.
We were fortunate enough to stay in the Aspen Villa, an awesome renovated house, just a few blocks from downtown Cody. There was even a little gift in the washer. . . kidding! Being that we have a little toddler, this location was perfect because we could easily walk around and check out the surrounding area.
Some of our favorite spots downtown include: Annie’s Soda Saloon (their milkshakes are to die for!), Fat Racks BBQ, a food truck that has some incredible smoked meats, Buffalo Bill’s Hotel Irma (this historic hotel will make you feel like you are living out a western movie), and lastly the Smithsonian-affiliated Buffalo Bill Center of the West. This museum boasts more than just Buffalo Bill items. It has a large gun collection, exhibits on American Indians, natural history and more.
2. Check out the Buffalo Bill Dam, Reservoir, and State Park
Just a short, incredibly scenic ten mile drive from Cody is the Buffalo Bill State Park. The park, which spans over 11,000 acres, consists of the Buffalo Bill Dam and Reservoir, and its subsequent shoreline and forest.
At the time it was completed in 1910, the 328 feet tall Buffalo Bill Dam was the tallest dam in the world and was an engineering marvel! The dam is so *damn (haha)* impressive that it was listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The Buffalo Bill Dam is worth a visit if you are staying in Cody.
Admission to the dam is FREE, parking is FREE, there is a visitor center and various interpretive areas and exhibits.
Once you are done checking out the engineering marvel, spend some time exploring the 42 miles of shoreline that make up the Buffalo Bill Reservoir and State Park. I don’t think I have ever visited a place with better rocks for skipping, but there is a lot more to do than that!
The Buffalo Bill Reservoir is a phenomenal year-round fishing location! You might end up catching various types of trout such as brown trout, rainbow trout, lake trout, and cutthroat trout.
If you need a great travel fishing pole, this telescoping travel pole is one of the best!
If you plan on fishing, you are going to need to get a Wyoming State Fishing License. There are various prices depending on how long you want to fish. Check out a pricing list here.
The State Park offers two campgrounds, the Lake Shore Bay Campground and the North Fork Campground. Both campgrounds combined offer a total of 88 RV sites and 11 tent only sites. Lake Shore Bay Campground has a boat ramp, but fewer facilities than North Fork which has a playground, showers, toilets, and more solitude.
One of the best ways to enjoy the reservoir is to be out on the water. Put your watercraft in at North Shore Dock and Ramp, South Shore Dock and Ramp, Bartlett Lane Dock and Ramp or Gibbs Bridge Raft Take Out. Also, if you’re into windsurfing, the Buffalo Bill Reservoir is one of the best locations in the country!
3. Go For A Hike
It’s Wyoming, so stellar hiking locations are easy to come by. One of our favorite hikes in the state just happens to be about an hour from Cody. In fact, Bridal Veil Falls is listed as our #5 most beautiful places in all of Wyoming! Check out our top ten list here!
Bridal Veil Falls is a 4 mile out and back hike located less than an hour drive away from Cody. The hike itself begins in the middle of Clarks Fork Canyon, and the views of the surrounding mountains are stunning. The hike begins on the Morrison Jeep Trail and winds along the Clarks Fork River for about a mile before you turn right and head up into the mountains.
Once you turn, you will start to gain in elevation and begin hiking up to the falls. Watch where you put your hands. I put my hands down on a rock to pull myself up (a little bouldering involved) and a snake took off. We saw two during our hike. You will hear the falls before you see them and once you see them, they are a wonderful sight!
Overall, it is a moderate hike. I had 11 month old Amelia strapped to me, and it was more than manageable! She seemed to enjoy it too!
4. Find Wild Horses
If you are like Kate or little Amelia, chances are you LOVE horses. And let’s be honest, what is a trip to Wyoming without a little horse action?!
Approximately 12 miles east of Cody is the 120,000 acre McCullough Peaks Herd Management Area. Highway 14/16/20, the road you take from Cody, to McCullough Peaks, is called Wild Horse Highway. That should tell you something!
Once you arrive, you can take McCullough Peaks Road #1212 which is marked by an informational sign into the area and get to horse gazing. A little over one hundred wild horses roam this area, and they all are majestic!
5. Wander the Old Trail Town
If roaming with wild horses isn’t enough of a wild western experience for you, then you need to check out Cody’s Old Trail Town! The Old Trail Town is on the actual site that Buffalo Bill surveyed for the town of Cody.
From May to September, the Old Trail Town is open for exploration and features relics from all over the Old West. The town includes 27 different buildings, some of which are filled with accurate time period relics which have you wondering if you jumped back in time. It is weird walking around the area without a cowboy hat and a pair of chaps on!
Though Cody, Wyoming is a great place to stay and explore the beauty of Yellowstone National Park, there certainly are a lot of fun things to do near Cody. Enjoy your visit!
If you are planning on traveling to Wyoming, check out our other posts on the Cowboy State: The 10 Most Beautiful Places in Wyoming You Have to Visit, 4 Days in the Grand Tetons | Babymoon, and 4 Stunning Sunrise Locations in the Grand Tetons.