15 Best Things to Do in Cody, WY

Cody, WY
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Situated at the western edge of the Big Horn Basin, Cody is a city in Northwest Wyoming and serves as the county seat of Park County.

It’s named after William Frederick Cody, also known as “Buffalo Bill”—an American soldier, hunter, and showman who had a big part in the city's founding in 1896.

Known as the “Rodeo Capital of the World,” Cody has strong cowboy and western influences embedded in its culture, as seen in the city’s many ranches and the nightly rodeo shows from June through August.

Located just 50 miles outside the Yellow Stone National Park, the city allows access to its East Gates through a bridge crossing the Shoshone River.

With its relatively high elevation above sea level, the city experiences turbulent winds at times, but it also gives gorgeous views of Heart Mountain and Carter Mountain.

Its unique terrains have made it a hub for outdoor recreational activities like rock climbing, whitewater rafting, and kayaking.

Here are the best things to do in Cody, Wyoming:

Learn about the Buffalo Bill Dam at the Buffalo Bill Dam & Visitor Center

View of Buffalo Bill Dam & Visitor Center
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Located on North Fork Highway, the Buffalo Bill Dam & Visitor Center highlights the history of the arched-gravity dam.

The dam was the tallest concrete dam in the world upon its completion and is now a National Civil Engineering Landmark.

The visitor center has exhibits that depict the dam’s construction between 1905 and 1910, as well as the area wildlife and geography of the Shoshone River.

View of Buffalo Bill Dam & Visitor Center
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Walk across the top of the dam and look down the Shoshone river 280 feet down.

There’s a mini theater where you can watch a short film about the dam’s construction and displays of farming and prehistoric artifacts.

Visit the Buffalo Bill Dam & Visitor Center to learn more about this engineering wonder.

View of Buffalo Bill Dam & Visitor Center
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Go on a Tour with Red Canyon Wild Mustang Tour

Let Red Canyon Wild Mustang Tour take you on a unique safari tour to see wild mustangs in their natural habitat.

Located on 12th Street, the sightseeing tour agency provides a premier wild horse tour on McCullough Peaks Wild Horse Range grasslands.

See them roaming freely in herds and grazing on the green pastures.

Binoculars and spotting scopes are provided on tour, so it’s easier for you to spot coyotes, pronghorn antelopes, mule deer, and more in the wild.

Sunset tours are a must-try for a gorgeous view of Wyoming’s McCullough Peaks and Badlands.

Try Red Canyon Wild Mustang Tour to see a variety of wildlife and learn about Wyoming’s desert landscape.

Explore the Museums of the Buffalo Bill Center of the West

View of Buffalo Bill Center of the West
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Located along Sheridan Avenue, the Buffalo Bill Center of the West is a Smithsonian-affiliated complex of five museums and a research library featuring the arts and culture of the American West.

Learn about the life and time of Cody’s founder, William F. Cody, at the Buffalo Bill Museum, which has interactive exhibits and multimedia presentations about the Buffalo Bill character he created and his success with “Buffalo Bill's Wild West show.”

View of Buffalo Bill Center of the West
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See large dioramas depicting the lives of the Plains Indian people at the Plains Indians Museum through artifacts primarily from the Northern Plains tribes.

The Whitney Western Art Museum features paintings and sculptures of the American West, with replicas of the studios of Frederic Remington and Alexander Phimister Proctor helping visitors learn about their lives and art technique.

Know about Yellowstone’s flora and fauna at the Draper Natural History Museum and trace the history of firearms at the Cody Firearms Museum.

Spend an entire day at the Buffalo Bill Center of the West learning more about the American West culture.

View of Buffalo Bill Center of the West
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Appreciate Western Culture through Art at By Western Hands

By Western Hands is a non-profit organization that aims to preserve western heritage and design by promoting today’s top artisans and conserving the works of previous generations of artists.

Located on 12th Street, BWH showcases furniture and decorative items by local artisans, often of local materials.

See works by BWH’s Legacy Artisans group in the Legacy Artisans’ Gallery.

The gallery has a wide collection of woodwork with high workmanship.

Visit By Western Hands and appreciate the western culture through art.

See What an Old Western Town Looked Like at the Old Trail Town

Scenic view of Old Trail Town
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The Old Trail Town is a collection of historic buildings dating from 1879 to 1901 that’s been restored and reassembled at a site on Demaris Drive.

Conceptualized by historian Bob Edgar, the site now houses 26 restored buildings from around the region that would’ve otherwise been destroyed.

Among the houses in the recreated town is the original cabin of scout Curly and the “Hole-in-the-Wall Cabin” that served as a hiding place for the infamous Butch Cassidy and the Wild Bunch Gang.

Scenic view of Old Trail Town
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Set against the beautiful mountains, Old Trail Town gives you a peak of what life was like in the late 1900s with blacksmith shops, a post office, and an old saloon that still has bullet holes in the door.

Also, part of the collection is a hundred horse-drawn vehicles, memorabilia from the Wyoming frontier, and Plains Indian artifacts.

Visit the Old Town Trail and experience life in a true cowboy town.

Scenic view of Old Trail Town
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Catch Some Rodeo Action at Cody Nite Rodeo

Cody isn’t the “Rodeo Capital of the World” for nothing.

Venturing into the wild lands of Wyoming required horsemanship skills to manage livestock, which is why horseback riding is a big part of its culture.

Located on Yellowstone Avenue, the Cody Stampede Rodeo has been held every summer since 1919, being named the “Best Large Outdoor Rodeo of the Year” in 1998 and 1999 by Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association.

Experience the only night rodeo in the world at The Cody Nite Rodeo, held from June 1 through August 31, where you can watch competitive events like bronco riding, calf roping, and bull riding.

The event is kid-friendly, with rodeo clowns offering face painting services.

Kids can learn to rope and have their pictures taken riding a Mongo, a tamed rodeo bull.

Learn Horseback Riding with the Dude Ranchers' Association

Have you been to Cody without getting to ride a horse?

Worry not because the Dude Ranchers' Association’s got you!

Formed in 1926 with the mission of preserving the ranching industry, Dune has over 90 member ranches that offer quality vacations with the highest standard of lodging.

DRA has strict by-laws that must be followed for an applicant ranch to be admitted to the association, ensuring that any ranch you choose can give you a genuine western experience.

Located on 12th Street, the association also offers activities such as cattle working, gold panning, birdwatching, and guided fishing.

But if there’s any activity you shouldn’t miss, it’s horseback riding.

There are beginner rides that are slow-paced and shorter than the advanced rides to get you more comfortable, while advanced rides are longer and may include trotting and looping over rougher terrain.

Half-day and all-day rides include breakfast, lunches, and dinner, while more experienced riders can try team penning, where you separate cattle into pens.

Spot Rare Vintage Weapons at the Cody Dug Up Gun Museum

Located on 12th Street, the Cody Dug Up Gun Museum is a passion project for husband-and-wife Hans Kurth and Eva Szkultecki.

The couple opened the museum in 2009, showcasing Hans’ collection from over the years.

Hans has accumulated over 1,300 items in a span of 38 years, including swords, bayonets, and knives.

Some of his prized possessions are Colt Model 1873 Single Action Army Revolvers, Model 1860 Henry Rifles, and a Musket found embedded in a tree.

Find vintage weapons dating from the Gold Rush Era, US Civil War, Old West & Indian Wars, World War I, the 20s, and World War II.

If you’re an antique collector, the museum also buys, sells, and trades individual antique firearms or an entire collection of guns.

Entrance to the Cody Dug Up Gun Museum, but donations are encouraged to help with the upkeep of its facilities.

Hop on the Cody Trolley Tours

View of  Cody Trolley Tours
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There isn’t a more unique way to go around the city than by riding a trolley bus.

Located on Sheridan Drive, the Cody Trolley Tours is a family-owned and operated business that will take you on a tour of historic homes, public art, and the Buffalo Bill Reservoir.

The 22-mile ride takes about an hour, with two live narrators telling the story of William F. Cody and passing around poster-sized historical photos and relics.

There are also entertaining audio clips that make this tour different from others.

The tour operates daily from mid-May through September, but the Holly Jolly Trolley is available in December to take you to the best-lit neighborhoods in the city during the Christmas season.

Hop on the Cody Trolley Tours and see what Cody has to offer.

Catch Country Music Performances at The Cody Cattle Company

The Cody Cattle Company is an 11,500-square-foot western-style event venue on Demaris Drive.

Opened in 2009, it’s known for nightly performances by Ryan Martin and his band during the summer tourist season from May through September.

The hour-long shows are best enjoyed with a family-style dinner buffet with American classics such as brisket, mac and cheese, cornbread, and salads.

Cap off the hearty meal with a slice of their fudgy chocolate brownies or a glass of tap beer.

It’s right next to Stampede Park, so why not drop by and have a grand dinner while enjoying a live country-western music show before catching some rodeo action?

The Cody Cattle Company even offers Trifecta Tickets, which include their all-you-can-eat Chuckwagon Dinner, live music show, and a ticket to the Cody Nite Rodeo.

Stay at Buffalo Bill’s Suite at Irma Hotel & Restaurant

Front view of Irma Hotel & Restaurant
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Located on Sheridan Avenue, Buffalo Bill’s Irma Hotel & Restaurant opened its doors in 1902.

It was constructed by William F. Cody with a price tag of $80,000 and named after his youngest daughter, Irma.

The hotel served as Cody’s residence when he returned from his Wild West Show tours, and its grounds also hosted tryouts for the show.

Front view of Irma Hotel & Restaurant
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You can even stay at Buffalo Bill’s original suite, that’s been restored.

Its restaurant is famous for prime rib and buffalo ribeye, as well as the Wild West Salmon and a combination of steak and jumbo shrimp.

Enjoy some snacks on the porch while watching a performance by the Gunfighters.

Stay at the historic Buffalo Bill’s Irma Hotel & Restaurant and admire its beautifully restored interiors.

Front view of Irma Hotel & Restaurant
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Catch the Wild Bunch Gunfighters Show

The Wild Bunch Gunfighters Show is a fun western reenactment that always ends in gunfire.

Performances are held in front of Buffalo Bill’s Historic Irma Hotel on Sheridan Avenue and run from Monday through Sunday, from June through September.

Four different 30-minute shows rotated throughout the summer, but with one common denominator: they all end in gunfire!

The show is free, so crowds swell to more than 500.

See old west characters in historical costumes duke it out at the Wild Bunch Gunfighters Show.

Go Kayaking on the Shoshone River with Gradient Mountain Sports

If you’re looking for some whitewater action, Gradient Mountain Sports has got you covered!

Located on Sheridan Avenue, Gradient is a canoe and kayak rental shop offering guided trips.

Boating enthusiasts are in for a treat with their Kayak Big Horn package, where guides will lead you on a geological and historical tour and share some of the canyon’s hidden gems.

A 5-mile and 12-mile kayaking tour on the Shoshone River will take you on some Class II whitewater adventure while enjoying the beautiful scenery.

Book your tours now with Gradient Mountain Sports and try the waters of Shoshone.

Other Things to Do Nearby

Commemorate Japanese Americans at the Heart Mountain Interpretive Center

The Heart Mountain Interpretive Center is in Powell at the site of the Heart Mountain Internment Camp, just 15 minutes outside Cody.

The camp imprisoned 14,000 Japanese American during World War II.

The center is housed in a building resembling a barracks, with recreations of living quarters depicting the prisoners’ lives during the war, exhibits, and artifacts.

It also provides a background history of anti-Asian sentiments in America and the factors that led to the incarceration of Japanese and Japanese Americans.

There’s a walking trail that leads to the Heart Mountain Memorial dedicated to Japanese soldiers from the camp who sacrificed their lives during the war.

Commemorate the Japanese American prisoners of war by visiting the Heart Mountain Interpretive Center.

Final Thoughts

With its unique geography, the city of Cody is every outdoor sports enthusiast’s dream destination.

The canyons, mountains, and rivers surrounding it give it a rural flair.

There’s more to this city than cowboys and rodeos.

Learn about the western culture by trying the best things to do in Cody.

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