I’m going to be in Cody, WY for a couple of days – arriving Tuesday afternoon, July 11th, departing Thursday afternoon. The business I’m going for will only take a few hours, either Wednesday morning or Wednesday afternoon (for me to decide).
Is it nuts to try to jaunt over to Yellowstone for a part-day visit? Is there other cool stuff in the area to check out? Is anyone within driving distance of Cody and want to have dinner Tuesday or Wednesday?
Cody has an absolutely first-rate museum complex – the Buffalo Bill Historical Center – in which one could spend several days. It includes five distinct museums that examine Western American history, only one of which is devoted to William Cody.
Cody does bill itself as a gateway to Yellowstone, but in my mind, it’s still a pretty good drive if you’re only going to be able to spend half a day there or so. If you’ve never been to Yellowstone, I would definitely wait until you’ve got more time – you could spend most of your time driving to something like Old Faithful or the Yellowstone River Falls, and not have much time to really enjoy it.
My wife and I enjoy seeing movies in old theaters, and Cody’s is one of the better ones we’ve visited.
It’s about 50 miles from Cody to the east gate of Yellowstone Park, and a fabulous scenic drive at that, but it is quite winding—not a major highway, although in pretty good condition. If you had your business done by Wednesday at noon, you could drive over to the Park in about an hour…then another 15-ish miles to the Fishing Bridge, from which you could turn N to Tower Falls, a great area, or S to Yellowstone Lake. If you planned on staying in the Park for the night (Yellowstone Lake does have accomodations but you’d best make reservations NOW!), you could get a couple nice smaller hikes accomplished around the Lake area in early evening. Then perhaps do some more tourist-y stuff (visit the Upper or Lower Yellowstone Falls, for example) on Thursday morning before returning to Cody. Taking in something like Old Faithful would be a stretch, as that is a bit further to the west, and by that point in July, the roads will be packed with people and animals, causing 10 miles to sometimes take you a couple hours to traverse! I’d say right now that you would frankly be in too much of a rush, given your schedule, to attempt the Park. If you were done with business Tuesday night and had all of Wednesday free, a trip the the east end of the Park would be easier and worth your while.
Just got back from the Park weekend before last, and I find early June to be a grand time to see Yellowstone, as the roads are not as well traveled by either tourists or animals. The shyer animals are down from the mountains as well, and for the first time ever I saw multiple bears (one black bear and one grizzly) and moose and huge elk, all in the same trip. The spring run-off was in full swing and the waterfalls were spectacular, so it became a kind of waterfall tour for us. We did arrive on a Saturday late afternoon and stayed the night, then spent most of Sunday on the trails. We stuck to the north end of the Park, however. You do require 3 days at least to do a complete Park tour, IMHO.
Gordon Urquhart is correct that the Buffalo Bill Historic Center is tremendous and worth your while. You can easily spend hours there (it is about 4 separate museums rolled into one center), and then take in afternoon refreshment at The Irma Hotel bar, named for Buffalo Bill Cody’s daughter, and sup on their fine prime rib dinner. Numerous other eateries and shops abound on Cody’s main street. It’s a great little corner of history and the west!
Enjoy. My work schedule would not permit me to join you mid-week (I live some 95 miles to the north in Billings, MT), but my thoughts are certainly with you!
Since you’re going to be in Cody, twickster, forget about seeing the Grand Tetons on this trip – they’re about an hour south of Yellowstone’s south entrance, and you’re going to be way, way up by the northeast entrance.
I was just in Yellowstone myself, at about the same time as Rebecca DiMwitter. If I’d known, maybe we could have had a micro-Dopefest watching a grizzly.
So based on my experiences and twickster’s time and location, I recommend seeing the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone, with options to the north in the Tower Falls area and to the south at Mud Volcano, on the road to Fishing Bridge and lake country.
And when you’re driving from place to place, if you see a large crowd of people by the side of the road, with several camera lenses the size of your arm – by all means pull over and join them. They’re probably watching a bear. (Or maybe a bluebird nest.)
For a proper Yellowstone trip, decide in advance what you want to do – and far in advance at that, the park’s lodges fill up fast during summer vacation. 4 or 5 days can be too much time, and 2 weeks can be not enough time to do everything that you want to do.
Sorry to have missed you, Scuba_Ben! Living with Yellowstone Park practically in my front yard, I still don’t get there as often as I would like, but the June trip was the earliest I had ever been in the Park in the official “summer season” and it was a great and pleasant surprise to see the lower traffic count and the number of animals one does not usually see later in the summer except in the very high country! The grizzly cub was less than 30 ft. away from us when we photographed him, quickly, as a Ranger was standing by, forcefully reminding folks to stay in their cars…a baby griz will always mean a mama somewhere nearby, nothing to mess with, and this little guy was almost right on the road!
twickster, will you have an opportunity to travel again with your company to Cody (is there a client there who will need repeat attention)? If so, you may be able to arrange your trip more artfully in the future for a full day (or two) in the Park. I hope you are eventually able to make this happen.
I wouldn’t be heartbroken about a day spent in Cody, however. You will find lots to do.
Back in June of 1997, My wife and I spent half a day in Yellowstone, and then drove to Cody to see the Nite (sic) Rodeo.
Traffic within Yellowstone was horrendous. We saw plenty of wildlife and some pretty amazing sights, but Old Faithful’s schedule didn’t cooperate with when we got to that most famous geyser; our desire to get to Cody in time made us miss it. And we TOTALLY didn’t realize just how long it can take to travel 50 miles on US-16…on top of traffic issues getting out of Yellowstone. We ended up getting to the Rodeo an hour late. There was still plenty of rodeo to enjoy (and we walked in for free, too), so we’re not at all complaining. But the point is, Yellowstone and Cody are not as quick to travel between as you’d expect, trying to do both in a day almost certainly means you’ll be shortchanging yourself on one or the other.
Sounds like trying to do Yosemite also will be too ambitious – thanks for your input, all. I can spend time in unmoving traffic right here in Philly, thanks, I don’t need to go to Wyoming for that. And I’m guessing there might be a scenic vista or two outside the park boundaries.
If I’d been planning better, I’d’ve arranged to butt the trip up against a weekend – oh well. At the time I was thinking mostly about the fact that Gettysdope was the following weekend. And, unfortunately, Beck, I’m pretty sure this is going to be a one-shot deal. Guess I’ll have to amuse myself in Cody as best I can – though it seems like there will be plenty there to keep me amused!
You’re probably right, there should be plenty of good nature views in the Cody area. Do your research.
And after further thought, one day in Yellowstone probably isn’t worth the park entry fee; ISTR it’s $20 per car. (But that gets you into Yellowstone and Grand Teton for a week.)
Rebecca, 30 feet to a grizzly?! You rock!
My “I was THIS close to a bear” story: We were driving from Tower Falls to Canyon by way of Mt. Washburn, when a black bear cub crossed the road just ahead of us, and then walked along the road for a bit. I was driving at the time, and was more concerned with not running into the bear than with taking a photo. So my shots of that bear probably sucked. That’s okay, the cinnamon black bear at Petrified Tree, about 80 feet from the parking lot, more than made up for it.
Safety note: Yellowstone’s rule is to stay 25 yards from all wildlife, and 100 yards from all bears.