CODY, Wyoming – For such a small town, Cody, Wyoming offers some incredibly big adventures, particularly during the cooler months of the year. Although this Wyoming town near the east border of Yellowstone National Park is best known for its summer activities such as the Cody Nite Rodeo as well as its world-famous Buffalo Bill Historical Center, its cool-weather seasons also offer a wide range of recreational and cultural activities that will hold the interest of fun-loving travelers of all ages.
“Winter has been a hit with the adventurers who are into extreme activities such as ice-climbing, but our relatively mild temperatures and the expansive Western beauty of the destination have been catching on with more mainstream winter travelers in recent years,” said Claudia Wade, executive director of the Park County Travel Council. “And although most fall and winter days are quite comfortable for exploring outside, when our visitors are ready to move indoors they will find a wide range of museums, galleries, restaurants and entertainment options.” Park County Travel Council provides marketing support for Buffalo Bill’s Cody/Yellowstone Country, comprised of the towns of Cody, Powell and Meeteetse, Wyo.
Here are some of Yellowstone Country’s top winter adventures:
• Wildlife watching. Fall is rutting season, and it is common to see huge male elk sparring to get the attention of female elk and to hear elk bugling to warn competitors away or to inform the herd of their prowess with the females.
• Scenic drives. The Buffalo Bill Cody Scenic Byway is a 50-mile stretch from Cody to Yellowstone National Park. It features striking rock formations, the world’s first national forest and prime wildlife habitat. While traversing the Wapiti Valley through Shoshone National Forest, it is not unusual to see elk, deer, moose, pronghorn, bighorn sheep and even pre-hibernation grizzly and black bears during the fall months. “Wapiti” is an Indian word meaning white tail, or elk.
• Mountain biking. Yellowstone Country has many trails for mountain biking, providing visitors with a chance to take in the scenery at their own pace.
• Sleeping Giant Ski Area. Located in the Shoshone National Forest 49 miles west of Cody, Sleeping Giant covers 900 vertical feet, double the height of the ski area when it closed in 2004. The ski area reopened in 2009 after a two-year renovation that added two chair lifts, a magic carpet and terrain park with 14 features, including quarter pipes, rails, boxes and jumps. The terrain park is one of only a handful in the country that was constructed almost entirely of materials found on the hill. It is designed for use by both snowboarders and skiers.
• Ice-climbing. World-class ice-climbing is available along the South Fork of the Shoshone River (www.coldfear.com,www.bisonwillys.com, www.codyice.com). The frozen waterfalls provide one of the highest concentrations of waterfall ice-climbing in the United States. Non-climbers are welcome to watch as the artful climbers make their slow treks up the frozen waterfalls.
• Galleries and museums. Founded in 1917 to preserve the legacy of its namesake, Cody’s world-famous Buffalo Bill Historical Center (www.bbhc.org) is often the first stop for Cody visitors in any season. On a cool day in winter, the sprawling five-museum complex is an inviting all-day educational experience for visitors of any age. During the winter — November through March — the Buffalo Bill Historical Center is open Thursday through Sunday from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m. Cody’s art galleries and shops – many within walking distance of the museum – are also open throughout the winter.
• Wild West Show Concert Series. The Wild West Show Concert Series brings top-performing country stars to Cody once a month from October through April for performances in one of two theater venues – the 300-seat Cody Theater or the 900-seat Wynona Thompson Auditorium. Wildly popular among locals and travelers alike, the entertaining performances are typically held on Saturday nights.
• Nordic skiing. The area offers an abundance of Nordic skiing trails (www.nordicskiclub.com, www.meetrec.org), including the Wood River Valley Ski Touring Park located 22 miles southwest of Meeteetse, North Fork Nordic Trails located near the East Entrance to Yellowstone National Park and Yellowstone National Park itself, with groomed ski trails throughout the park.
• Ice-skating. There are two great places to glide on the ice. Outdoor ice-skating is available at Homesteader Park in Powell, and indoor skating is offered at the Victor J. Riley Arena (www.codyicearena.com) and Community Events Center in Cody. Both locations provide ice skate rentals.
• Fishing. The Cody area offers some of the best blue-ribbon trout stream fishing in the world, and the fish do not know it is winter. Professional fishing guides and outfitters accommodate anglers of any ability. A listing of professional fishing guides and fly fishing shops as well as year-round fishing information is available at www.yellowstonecountry.org/outdoor-recreation.
• Snowmobiling and Snowcoach Touring. Winter adventurers who like to feel the rush of cool air on their faces will find a special thrill in Yellowstone Country. There are plenty of places to explore both inside the park and throughout the forestlands outside the park borders on snowmobiles and in snowcoaches. Snowcoach drivers do double-duty as interpretive guides and happily stop the vehicles along the way so visitors can truly appreciate the area’s incredible beauty and abundant wildlife.
The area of Park County is called “Buffalo Bill’s Cody/Yellowstone Country because it was the playground of Buffalo Bill Cody himself. Buffalo Bill founded the town of Cody in 1896, and the entire region was driven and is still heavily influenced by the vision of the Colonel. Today its broad streets, world-class museum Buffalo Bill Historical Center and thriving western culture host more than 1 million visitors annually.
The Park County Travel Council website (www.yellowstonecountry.org) lists information about vacation packages, special events, guide services, weather and more. Travelers wishing to arrange vacation can also call the Park County Travel Council at 1-800-393-2639.