Shutdown Alternatives: The Next Best Things in Cody

Cody, Wyo. is an authentic Western town that is home to several family-friendly attractions and events, including the Plains Indian Pow Wow at the Buffalo Bill Center for the West. Mikala SunRhodes, from left, Jasmine Walks Over Ice and Tia Hoops chat between dances at the 2008 Plains Indian Pow Wow.

Ruffin Prevost / Yellowstone Gate

Cody, Wyo. is an authentic Western town that is home to several family-friendly attractions and events, including the Plains Indian Pow Wow at the Buffalo Bill Center for the West. Mikala SunRhodes, from left, Jasmine Walks Over Ice and Tia Hoops chat between dances at the 2008 Plains Indian Pow Wow.

Even if a resolution to the partial government shutdown is reached, officials with the National Park Service have said it will take at least some time to reopen the parks.

So for those already in the area or planning to arrive soon, we’re working to provide some options form tourism experts and industry insiders in gateway towns around the parks.

We’re presenting their ideas this week in an ongoing series, Next Best Things. Nothing quite matches the unique experiences you can have in Yellowstone and Grand Teton, but these ideas represent the Next Best Things in nearby communities.

Scott Balyo, executive director of the Cody Country Chamber of Commerce, offers a few of his picks for the Next Best Things to see and do in Cody, Wyo., at the east gate to Yellowstone National Park.

By Scott Balyo

Cody is an authentic Western cowboy town founded by and named after William F. “Buffalo Bill” Cody, famed scout and showman whose Wild West Show dazzled crowds across America and around the world. It features an authentic Wyoming small-town experience amidst some of the most spectacular natural scenery and amazing wildlife in the country. On your trip to Cody, be sure to visit:

Buffalo Center of the West

Cody is home to one of the country’s supreme cultural attractions—the five museum complex of the Buffalo Bill Center of the West. Its 300,000 square feet of exhibition space certainly makes it one of America’s largest museum complexes. The Whitney Gallery of Western Art, The Cody Firearms Museum, The Draper Museum of Natural History, The Plains Indian Museum and The Buffalo Bill Museum contain a wealth of attractions that are a great way to spend an entire day that will please the entire family.

720 Sheridan Avenue
Cody, Wyoming 82414
307-587-4771

The Irma Hotel

Another authentic Cody landmark, smack dab in the middle of town is the Irma Hotel. Built by buffalo Bill as a luxury hotel epitomizing the essence of western hospitality, he named it for his youngest daughter and opened it with suitable fanfare in 1902. Highlighting the Irma’s dining rooms is the huge carved French-made Victorian cherrywood back bar presented to Buffalo Bill by Queen Victoria in 1900 in appreciation for his command Wild West Show performance.

1192 Sheridan Ave.
Cody, Wyoming 82414
307-587-4221

Cody Dug Up Gun Museum

Stroll through history while viewing hundreds of relic guns & other weapons from many different time periods and locations, including America’s War of Independence, the Gold Rush Era, the U.S. Civil War, The Old West and Indian Wars, World War I, The Roaring 20s and World War II. The Cody Dug Up Gun Museum is one of Cody’s newest attractions and a great look at history for the whole family.

1020 12th Street
Cody, Wyoming 82414
307-587-3344

Heart Mountain Interpretive Center

In August of 2011, the Heart Mountain Wyoming Foundation opened its doors of the Heart Mountain Interpretive Center, a world-class museum dedicated to passing on the Heart Mountain story to future generations. Through photographs, artifacts, oral histories and interactive exhibits, guests to the Center experience life at Heart Mountain through the eyes of those Japanese and Japanese Americans that were confined here during WWII. The Center provides an overview of the wartime relocation of Japanese Americans, including the background history of anti-Asian prejudice in America and the factors leading to their enforced relocation and confinement. Special emphasis is given to the experience of incarceration, the diverse personal responses of Japanese Americans to their imprisonment, constitutional issues, violations of civil liberties and civil rights, and the broader issues of race and social justice in America.

1539 Road 19
Powell, Wyoming 82435
307-754-8000

Shoshone National Forest

While their main office is closed during the shutdown, the Shoshone National Forest is open, and offers superb scenery and endless recreational opportunities. The Shoshone National Forest was set aside in 1891 as part of the Yellowstone Timberland Reserve, making the Shoshone the first national forest in the United States. It consists of some 2.4 million acres of varied terrain ranging from sagebrush flats to rugged mountains. The higher mountains are snow-clad most of the year. Immense areas of exposed rock are interspersed with meadows and forests. With Yellowstone National Park on its western border, the Shoshone encompasses the area from the Montana state line south to Lander, Wyoming, and includes portions of the Absaroka, Wind River and Beartooth Mountains.

808 Meadowlane Ave.
Cody, Wyoming 82414
307-527-6241

Wild Sheep Foundation

The Wild Sheep Foundation International Headquarters and Visitors Center is located in downtown Cody. The Wild Sheep Foundation (formerly the Foundation for North American Wild Sheep) has for more than 30 years been the leading voice for wild sheep conservation throughout the world. Visit the Wild Sheep Foundation’s educational exhibit. Admission is free.

720 Allen Ave.
Cody, Wyoming 82414
307-527-6261

Scott Balyo is executive director of the Cody Country Chamber of Commerce.

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