Cody, Wyoming is a great destination for travelers looking to explore the Wild West. It’s just an hour from the East Entrance to Yellowstone National Park and can make a good basecamp for a visit to the park. Plus, there are so many things to do in Cody, Wyoming.
Home to the Buffalo Bill Center of the West and the world’s longest-running nightly rodeo, the largest land mammal in North America, and endless opportunities for unforgettable outdoor recreation, Cody offers a variety of activities and attractions in both summer and winter.
Cody is full of stunning landscapes, amazing wildlife, and plenty of outdoor recreation opportunities. There’s something for everyone in Cody.
History of Cody, Wyoming
When it comes to Cody’s history, there’s no better place to start than with the town’s founder: Buffalo Bill Cody. Cody was founded by Cody and his friend Charles Goodman in 1895. It quickly became known as a “cowboy town” due to its location at the edge of Yellowstone National Park and its proximity to Cody’s beloved Buffalo Bill Cody’s Wild West Show.
Today, Cody is a great place to tour historic buildings and learn about the American West from the people who call Wyoming home.
How to Get to Cody, Wyoming
Cody is located just an hour away from the East Entrance to Yellowstone National Park. Cody can be reached by air with Cody Regional Airport, which offers daily flights from nearby cities. Cody also has a Greyhound Bus Station for those who prefer to travel overland.
Most people drive to Cody from Billings, Montana (1 hour, 45 minutes), Denver (8 hours, 45 minutes), or Minneapolis (14 hours).
Best Things to Do in Cody
Outdoor Activities in Cody, Wyoming
No visit to Cody would be complete without participating in some outdoor activities. The town offers plenty of opportunities for adventure and exploration. From hiking and biking trails to horseback riding adventures, jeep tours, fishing on the Shoshone River, bird watching near Heart Mountain, or canoeing on nearby Lake DeSmet—there are plenty of ways to enjoy Cody’s natural beauty. In fact, Cody is known as “the wild west playground” for the variety of outdoor pursuits available.
Cody also has an abundance of winter activities, such as snowmobiling, skiing, and ice skating. Cody is known for its winter sports opportunities, making Cody an ideal destination for a family vacation.
Cody is located near many rivers, giving visitors the opportunity to go whitewater rafting in some of the most beautiful spots in Wyoming. Cody also offers plenty of guided rafting trips, giving travelers the chance to learn more about the area’s natural beauty and incredible wildlife.
Fishing in Cody
Cody is home to some of the best fishing in the region. Cody’s rivers, streams, and lakes are filled with brown trout, rainbow trout, cutthroat trout, and more. Cody offers plenty of guided fishing tours that will take you out to some of Cody’s most beautiful areas for a chance to catch one (or more) of these fish.
Hiking Near Cody
Cody’s trails cover everything from easy scenic walks to challenging multi-day hikes. Cody’s forests, mountains, and canyons offer something for everyone.
The Cody Country Chamber of Commerce is a good resource for finding hiking trails in Cody and the surrounding area.
Buffalo Bill Dam via Hayden Arch Bridge
This 4.2-mile out-and-back trail is rated as easy to complete, the journey typically takes 1 hour 45 minutes for most visitors. This paved road offers lovely views of the Canyon and the Shoshone River. The first mile is pretty, paved and wide, and great for walking, running, and riding bikes, or strollers. After the first mile, you descend into an amazing rock-lined path with beautiful mountains on both sides of the path.
Getting to the Buffalo Bill Dam Trailhead: Drive west from Cody on North Fork Highway about 4 miles, turn left onto Hayden Arch Road and the trailhead.
This steep, winding trail is open all year round and perfect for hikers, bikers, horseback riders – even your four-legged friends. It’s also home to plentiful wildlife with an exclusive elk conservation area closed from January through April so as not to disrupt their winter grounds. Enjoy 14 miles of stunning Cody scenery across three trails; come explore what makes this Wyoming mountain so special!
Getting to the Sheep Mountain Trailhead: From Cody, take US-14/16/20 west for 11.5 miles and turn left onto Sheep Mountain Road. Follow the road until you reach the trailhead parking lot at the end of the road.
Bridal Veil Falls
The 3.9-mile out-and-back trail to Bridal Veil Falls in the Shoshone National Forest is a moderate challenge. It’s a popular trail, but sometimes you get it to yourself. The trail leads to the basin of beautiful Bridal Veil Falls.
Getting to the Bridal Veil Falls Trailhead: From Cody, take US-14/16/20 east for 4.3 miles and turn right at the National Forest Service sign onto County Road 9W. Follow this road for 4 miles to the trailhead parking area on the left side of the road.
Legend Rock Petroglyph Site
Legend Rock State Petroglyph Site is managed by Wyoming State Parks. The website says,
“Legend Rock State Petroglyph Site is a 400-meter-long, near vertical cliff with more than 92 prehistoric petroglyph panels and over 300 petroglyph figures.
“Legend Rock has been a sacred site for Native Americans of this region for thousands of years. Local concern for the preservation and protection of the site led to acquisition of the property as a Wyoming State Petroglyph Site in 1973. During the same year, the site was placed on the National Register of Historic Places. Legend Rock Petroglyph Site is one of the most fragile in the Wyoming State Parks system.”
Getting to Legend Rock: From Cody, drive south on WY-120 E for 68 miles to Upper Cottonwood Creek Rd. Turn right and continue 3 miles to the site.
Island and Night Lakes
This is one of our favorite hikes on the Beartooth Plateau. It’s an easy looping trail with beautiful scenery. The 3.5-mile trail takes you around Island and Night Lakes. You can read about hiking to Island and Night Lakes here.
Getting to the Island and Night Lakes Trailhead: Look for the Island Lake turnoff on the north side of the Beartooth Highway (Hwy 212) 38 miles south of Red Lodge and 26 miles east of Cook City. Turn north and drive .02 miles to the sign for trailhead parking. Turn right and drive another .02 miles to the parking area.
Wildlife in Cody, Wyoming
One of Cody’s biggest attractions is its wildlife. Cody is home to some of the largest mammals in North America, including bison, elk, mule deer, and pronghorn antelope. Visitors can observe these animals from a distance or take guided tours to learn more about them up close. Cody is also home to bald eagles, who nest along the Shoshone River and use Cody as a migratory stopover. Cody’s proximity to Yellowstone National Park also makes it a great place for wildlife watching, especially wolves and grizzly bears.
Horseback Riding in Cody
Cody is a great place for horseback riding. Take in Cody’s beautiful landscape while exploring vast open fields and mountain trails on horseback. Experienced wranglers can take you out for an hourly ride or a full-day tour of the Cody area with stunning views of Shoshone Canyon, Yellowstone National Park, and beyond. Cody also has several dude ranches where you can stay overnight, enjoy meals, and explore Cody’s wide-open spaces on horseback.
Pryor Mountain Wild Mustang Center
The Pryor Mountain Wild Mustang Center is about an hour from Cody. The horses are decedents of horses brought to the New World by Spanish Conquistadors.
The visitor center in Lovell, Wyoming is small but nice. Get a map of the area, information on where to look for horses, and a little history on the horses, before setting off to find them.
The staff at the visitor center monitor the wild horses, keep track of births, and take care of two wild horses that now live in a corral out back, as well as educating the public.
Enjoying Cody’s Culture
Cody is also known for its vibrant culture and arts scene. Visitors can explore Cody’s many museums and historical sites or enjoy the local art galleries, live music performances, and annual festivals held throughout the year. Additionally, Cody has a variety of restaurants with cuisine from around the world—including traditional Wyoming bison dishes.
With Cody, Wyoming’s deep cultural roots, stunning outdoor scenery, and endless possibilities for adventure—it’s no wonder Cody is a great destination for any traveler who wants to explore the Wild West. So come visit Cody and experience everything this remarkable city has to offer!
Cody’s main attraction is the Buffalo Bill Center of the West, which includes five museums and a library. Located in downtown Cody, this is one of the most popular attractions in town with plenty of activities for visitors, including shows, scavenger hunts and more. The museum has plenty of artifacts from Cody’s past as well as information about William F. Cody (aka Buffalo Bill).
Your entrance fee gives you two days to explore and you will need it – this place is huge!
Cody Nightly Rodeo
Cody is home to the world’s longest-running nightly rodeo show. The Cody Nite Rodeo is held from June through August evenings at 8 p.m., in an outdoor arena near downtown Cody.
Old Trail Town
Old Trail Town is a collection of old buildings that were moved to Cody from other Western towns, providing visitors with an authentic glimpse into the history of the American West. In 1895, western scout and showman, William F. (“Buffalo Bill”) Cody, laid out the original town site of Cody, Wyoming, which was named in his honor. There is also a Mountain Man Memorial and gravesites to visit.
Cody Wild West Show
Cody Wild West Show is a re-creation of Cody’s own Wild West Show with authentic costuming, music, and equestrian stunts.
Cody Trolley Tour
Cody Trolley Tours allows visitors to take a tour around Cody while learning about its history and culture. A knowledgeable guide will narrate each trip and provide fun facts about Cody along the way.
Cody’s Wild West Shootout
The Cody Gunfight is a re-enactment of Cody’s own Wild West show from the 1890s offers visitors a glimpse into Cody’s past. The gunfight takes place Monday through Saturday (no Sunday performances) from June 4th through September 22nd in the street in front of Buffalo Bill’s Historic Irma Hotel.
The show is free and there is limited seating on picnic tables, curbs, and rock walls available on a first-come, first-served basis. The show starts at 6:00, but you will want to be in your seat by 5:50 to not miss anything!
Cody Cattle Company
Cody Cattle Company gives visitors an up-close look at Cody’s cowboy culture with a Western music show and chuckwagon dinner.
Other Things to Do in Cody
Heart Mountain WWII Japanese American Confinement Site
Heart Mountain Interpretive Center tells the story of Japanese Americans who were sent to Wyoming during World War II and recounts their experiences and impacts.
There is also a variety of shopping in Cody ranging from local boutiques to one-of-a-kind art galleries. From high-end jewelry stores to western apparel and souvenir shops, visitors will find something for everyone in Cody.
No matter what type of activities you’re looking for, Cody has something for everyone! Whether it’s an outdoor adventure or learning more about Cody’s Wild West history—Cody is sure to leave a lasting impression on all who visit.
More To Do Near Cody
- Visit Thermopolis. Soak in hot springs, whoosh down water slides, spy bison, dig for dinosaurs, and more.
- See the petroglyphs at Legend Rock Petroglyph Site.
- Things to do in Cody, Wyoming.
- Visit the Pryor Mountain Wild Mustang Center.
- Things to do in Jackson Hole, Wyoming.
More Tips for Visiting Yellowstone
- Start Here! Planning a Trip to Yellowstone