Things to do in Cody Country
Yes, you are coming for the ARRL Rocky Mountain Division Ham Convention, or what we are calling the WyoHamCon 2017. But there are a lot of other reasons to visit our area, both for yourself and for others who may come with you. If you want to take a quick vacation at the beginning of the summer, this is one of the best possibilities that you may find. If you have questions that you can’t find an answer to below, send me a note and I’ll see if I can find more info for you.
CLICK ON THE ORANGE LINKS BELOW FOR MORE INFORMATION
We will have a room at the convention devoted to family activities for spouses, kids and really anyone who has some spare time. This will be a place to stop, talk, look around and just rest while your spouse investigates the many amateur radio activities during the convention.
Both United Airlines and Delta Airlines operate from the Cody’s Yellowstone Regional Airport. We should have daily flights to and from Denver and Salt Lake during the ARRL Rocky Mountain Division Ham Convention.
While there are several galleries in the downtown area, the best place to start is with a free visit to the Cody Country Art League located in the Cody Chamber of Commerce building. Stop in and check out the work of local Cody Country artists who exhibit their original art, pottery, photography, wood, and mosaics.
Cody has a huge, enthusiastic bicycle community. As a result of the passion of the local bikers, there is an extensive system of mountain bike trails leading from Beck Lake Park on the southeaster edge of Cody. And that’s just the start of many biking trails throughout the area. Contact Absaroka Bicycles for more information about the myriad of trails in the area.
Click on the above link to get a list of places you can worship while you are in Cody.
If you have never climbed before, Cody is a great place to learn. If you have extensive experience in climbing, Cody Country is a great place to explore. Contact Sunlight Sports and talk to the Jackson Hole Mountain Guides for more info.
There are many places just to drive to for a day trip just to experience the variety of scenic wonders in the area. You could spend a week in Cody just doing day trips and experience a totally different and unique environment every day.
- North: Beartooth Highway (half to three-quarters of a day—if you do only one day trip during your visit to Cody, this should be the one)
- Drive towards Belfry, MT, but divert toward the west on the Chief Joseph Highway about 18 miles north of Cody. This road will take you up to the Dead Indian Summit Overlook where you will see a sweeping vista of the Absaroka Mountains and Sunlight Basin.
- This road will then take you over the Sunlight Bridge, the highest bridge in Wyoming. There is a parking area just before you cross the bridge. You must stop and walk across the bridge to appreciate just how high the bridge stands above the water below. You will then travel through the Clarks Fork Canyon between the Absaroka Mountains and the Beartooth Mountains.
- At the end of the Chief Joseph Highway, turn right on Hwy 212 and go over the Beartooth Pass. Just after Then descend slowly down the other side to Red Lodge, MT.
- I once interviewed a motorcycle rider for a local TV show, and he said that he has ridden all over the US. He called the Beartooth Highway, “the best [motorcycle] ride in America.”
- If you turn left on Hwy 212, you will go to Yellowstone National Park via Cooke City and Silver Gate, MT.
- While in Red Lodge, stop in at ham radio operator-owned Scoop’s Ice Cream for a quick pick-me-up before the one-hour trip back through Belfry, MT to Cody.
The rest of the trips are at least a full day of driving and sight-seeing to do a round-trip from Cody. Think about incorporating part of these trips as you travel to and from the WyoHamCon.
- South: Meeteetse, Thermopolis, the Wind River Canyon, Lander, Dubois, Grand Teton, Yellowstone
- This makes for a LONG day, especially if you stop anywhere along the way (like Thermopolis, where you could spend an entire day at the state park and the dinosaur museum.
- If you don’t stop for a day in Thermopolis, continue south through the Wind River Canyon and proceed on to Lander, where you may want to stop at Sinks Canyon State Park and visit Wyoming’s mysterious disappearing river: the Popo Agie.
- After passing through Dubois (a day trip destination for many), be sure to stop in the rest area at the top of Togwotee Pass on US 26 for your first look at the commanding Grand Teton mountain range. Then proceed to Jackson Lake and northward to investigate the southern boundaries of Yellowstone as you return to Cody.
- East: Big Horn Mountains
- Powell, Byron, Lovell, Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area, Burgess Junction, (Sheridan). This is the steepest way across the Bighorns, but it will take you to the Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area. It is also the way to get to Medicine Wheel/Medicine Mountain National Historic Landmark. When you get to Burgess Junction, you can continue to Sheridan, WY, or come back to Cody via Shell and Greybull.
- Greybull, Shell, Shell Falls, Burgess Junction, past Sibley Lake, (Dayton, Ranchester, Sheridan). This is a true mountain driving experience once you get to the Bighorn National Forest. Along the way you can stop at Shell Falls. There is also a secret, second Shell Falls about a half-mile east of the interpretive center. It is not nearly as tall as the real falls, but it is a series of falls of varying sizes tumbling over some of the oldest granite in the world, In some ways this cascade is more impressive than the “official” falls.
- When you reach Burgess Junction, you can continue to Sheridan, or perhaps come back to Cody via Medicine Wheel, Lovell and Powell.
- Burlington, Basin, Worland, Ten Sleep, Buffalo. This is the southern route through the Bighorns. Perhaps the easiest to drive road through the Bighorns, this road will take you through Worland, where you can stop at the Washakie Museum & Cultural Center. Then you can continue past Meadowlark Lake and head to Buffalo. Stop there for lunch and head back to Cody or continue north to Sheridan and come back through the northern Bighorn route, through Ranchester, Dayton, Shell and Greybull.
- West: Yellowstone National Park
- See below for more information about day trips through the Yellowstone National Park.
Park County, Wyoming has some of the best fresh-water fishing opportunities in the country. To learn more about fishing and licensing for visitors to Wyoming, go to the Wyoming Game and Fish Department website for more information. There are daily licenses available if you are only planning to fish in the area for less than a week.
Many hams are also gun enthusiasts. If you are one of them, here are things you may enjoy during your stay in Cody.
- Cody Firearms Experience
- Indoor shooting complex where you can fire your own weapon, or you can rent firearms on site (including black powder guns, pistols, rifles, and even automatic weapons—including a Gatling gun. It may be worth the trip to Cody just to fire this shoot this one!
- They have promised us a discount if you let them know you are a ham (show them the “badge” that we give you when you arrive at the HamCon).
- Cody Shooting Complex (Gun Club just a mile or so north of Cody—go to the site to see the rules)
- Heart Mountain Rod and Gun Club (yup, another gun club—go to the website to see the rules. This one is in Powell, about 25 miles away.)
- “The Gun Museum”
- This is officially called “the Cody Firearms Museum,” which is one of the five museums you will find in the Buffalo Bill Center of the West. But most of the country knows it simply as “THE Gun Museum.”
There are literally hundreds of trails in this area that you can hike or backpack. You can start with hiking trails developed for bicycles (see above) that are practically in town, as well as exploring the Wapiti District of the Shoshone National Forest. Probably the best day hikes are found in Yellowstone.
Local Landmarks in Cody
- State of Wyoming Veterans Memorial Park at the intersection of Hwy 14-16-20 (the road to Greybull) and 26th at the eastern boundary of Cody, across from Beck Lake. Wyoming State Memorials for the Vietnam War, WWII, and the Korean War will be found here as well the Freedom Memoral.
- The Scout a bronze statue sculpted by Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney and mounted on a small raised area at the west end of Sheridan Avenue between the Buffalo Bill Center of the West and West Park Hospital, just to its north. This statue is the unofficial symbol of Cody.
- Cody Mural (about a quarter mile from the Holiday): story of the Mormon pioneers
Click on link above to check out all the museums in the area. But the most visited places are noted below:
- Buffalo Bill Center of the West (about three-quarters of a mile from the Holiday Inn)
- This museum has defined many a traveler’s visit to Cody. There are five museums under one roof and you could spend a couple of days here (as many do) simply exploring all the exhibits in the five areas. Included for one admission price are: the Cody Firearms Museum, the Draper Natural History Museum, the Whitney Western Art Museum, the Plains Indian Museum, and the Buffalo Bill Museum.
- This is The MUST-SEE stop during any visit to Cody.
- NOTE: admission to this museum is included in the ARRL Rocky Mountain Division Sunday morning breakfast. Come to breakfast and spend the day exploring this fascinating exhibition hall. You will be glad that you did.
- Buffalo Bill Dam Visitors Center (about 7 miles west of Cody on the road to Yellowstone)
- When it was completed in 1920, this was the largest concrete dam in the world. Just a few miles west of Cody, the visitors’ center offers a history of the dam and how water was brought to the Bighorn Basin. Hey, it’s FREE!!!
- Heart Mountain Interpretive Center (About 14 miles northeast of Cody, on the Wyoming Veterans Memorial Highway—US Hwy 14A)
- During WWII, many Japanese-Americans were uprooted from their homes and sent to “Assembly Centers.” One of these centers was located between Cody and Powell, WY. As you travel toward Powell you will see a large brick smokestack on the left, which was part of the camp’s hospital. The interpretive center is a small museum that tells the story of those Japanese-Americans who spent a few years in what was then the third largest city in Wyoming. Visiting the interpretive center is both an eye-opening and moving experience for everyone.
- Old Trail Town (about two and a half miles from the Holiday)
- A small town recreated by Bob Edgar from buildings he collected all over Wyoming, including building used by Butch Cassidy’s Hole in the Wall Gang. Each building is filled with items from the Old West. Even if you choose not to visit (or you just don’t have the time), you will want to watch the video on the website! Or at least the part about Bob.
- Washakie Museum & Cultural Center (Worland, WY—about two hours from Cody)
- Wyoming Dinosaur Center (Thermopolis, WY—about an hour and a half from Cody)
- This museum will provide “outstanding hands-on geologic and paleontological experiences that are engaging and enjoyable for visitors of all ages.” In addition, “The museum provides visitors a window into the ancient past where creatures from prehistory are revealed. Starting with single celled protozoa, the Walk Thru Time allows visitors to trace the origins of complex life on Earth.” Check the link for more information. It’s a fun experience for both kids and adults.
National & State Parks
- Yellowstone National Park
- What can we say about Yellowstone: the first National Park in the World, and one of the largest (at 3,468 square miles) in the United States. Just 50 miles west of Cody.
- Grand Teton National Park (Just south of Yellowstone, and about 3 hours away from Cody)
- For many, this is a drive-through park with stunning views of the Grand Teton Mountain range.
- For others, there exist many trails and camping opportunities
- If you have time for only one stop in the Park, consider Jenny Lake.
- Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area (just outside of Lovell, about 50 miles from Cody)
- Boating, hiking and abundant wildlife
- Hot Springs State Park (Thermopolis, WY—about an hour and a half from Cody)
- They claim to have the “Largest mineral hot spring in the world”
- Sinks Canyon State Park (Lander, WY, about two and a half hours from Cody)
- Home of Wyoming’s disappearing river: on the Middle Fork of the Popo Agie River.
Rafting and other Water Sports
There are several great rafting companies in Cody, but this is my fave:
- Cody Wyoming Adventures (they also do raft tours)
- Gradient Mountain Sports
- Greater Yellowstone Resource Guide
Rec Center: see Swimming below
There is a nightly rodeo in Cody, starting the 1st of June (and lasting until the 31st of August). So, if you want to stick around for a few extra days, you will be able to see the fun of barrel racing, saddle bronc and bull riding, and much more. If you are looking for a great conclusion to a wonderful holiday experience, this is it.
Lots of good places to eat in Cody other than the Holiday Inn. Click on the link above to find a more complete list. Some my favorites include:
- Granny’s Restaurant (American family restaurant—pretty much truck-stop food—good, filling, inexpensive breakfasts). It’s only a block from the Holiday.
- Michael’s Tacos (formerly Tacos El Taconazo: possibly the best Mexican restaurant in town)
- Nice people, great food.
- The Beta (coffee shop about a block and a half from the Holiday)
- A true coffee shop atmosphere with light, satisfying breakfast food and GREAT coffee.
- The Irma (about four blocks from the Holiday)
- Even if you aren’t hungry, you may want to stop in at The Irma, which was a hotel/bar built by the town’s founder, Buffalo Bill Cody, and named after his daughter, Irma. Check out the $100,000 Cherrywood Bar, a gift sent to Buffalo Bill by Queen Victoria of England. There are many historical photographs on the walls from the early days of the town’s existence.
If you are going to spend more than one night in Cody, going to see Dan Miller’s Cowboy Music Review is practically mandatory. Now in its 13th season, this award-winning show is fun for the entire family. You can stop in for just the show, or make an entire evening of it by attending the entire dinner/show event.
The Paul Stock Aquatic and Recreation Center has a 25-yard lap pool, water slide, therapy pool, gymnasium with basketball courts, walking/jogging track, enclosed courts (for racquetball, etc.), and much more. Non-resident daily rates are $13 for adults, $7 for students/youth, FREE for kids under five, and $2.50 (for everyone?) during the last two hours of every day.
The link above will suggest many tours in the area, but of special interest is the Cody Trolley Tour that will give you an hour’s tour of beautiful, historic Cody, WY.
- Cody Trolley Tour
- As the tour folks say, “Give us an hour—We’ll give you 100 years.” This is a FUN, hour-long bus tour of Cody during which you will learn a lot about our town and its history. This could be the most entertaining hour you can spend in Cody.
- Red Canyon Wild Mustang Tours
They also do rafting, rent kayaks, and mo