Experience Americas Most Treasured Roads
Touring the Byway
6 Days / 5 Nights | Gateway City: Cody, Wyoming
We recommend starting your journey in Cody, filled with attractions related to Buffalo Bill’s legacy. Begin your visit with the Historic Walking tour, followed by a visit to all five museums at the Buffalo Bill Center of the West. And, enjoy the Wild West Spectacular, the Musical, before a stay at the 1902 Irma Hotel, named for Cody’s daughter.
On Day Two, spend another day in Cody. Visiting Old Trail Town, the original site of Cody, the Cody Heritage Museum, the Meeteetse Museums, and By Western Hands Museum and Gallery, before staying another night at the Irma. On Day Three, you’ll be heading out on the Buffalo Bill Scenic Byway, with stops at the Buffalo Bill Dam and Visitor Center, Buffalo Bill State Park, and Cody’s original lodge Pahaska Teepee Resort, before heading into Yellowstone National Park.
Spend Days Four and Five exploring both loops of Yellowstone to view all of the important thermal features in the Park. On Day Six, head back to Cody on the Chief Joseph Scenic Byway which connects with the Beartooth Highway. From there we wish you safe passage if you are traveling another Wyoming Scenic Byway, or a safe and pleasant journey home.
View the Detailed Itinerary below to see the full route, which is complete with dining, shopping, and lodging recommendations!
Often referred to as the “Smithsonian of the West,” the Buffalo Bill Center of the West weaves together stories of the Yellowstone region and the American West in five different museums. Immerse yourself in the geology and natural environment of the region at the Draper Natural History Museum. Get to know William F. Cody in the Buffalo Bill Museum. Experience the traditions, values, and culture of regional Native Americans at the Plains Indian Museum, and enjoy artists’ depictions of the West at the Whitney Western Art Museum. The Cody Firearms Museum houses more than 4,000 firearms used in the American West.
Explore a rare collection of ghost-town relics, authentic buildings, and historic furnishing in this reconstructed frontier town where Cody started. Original cabins used by outlaws Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, and a Wyoming saloon frequented by Cassidy’s “Hole-in-the-Wall Gang” were moved to the site, along with the cabin of “Curley,” a Crow scout who helped guided Custer and the U.S. 7th Cavalry to the Battle of Little Big Horn in 1876. Several pioneer graves on the property include mountain man John Johnson, portrayed by Robert Redford in “Jeremiah Johnson.”
In addition to his fame as an entertainer, Cody was able to use his influence and notoriety to bring irrigation and agricultural development into the area, supported today by the water in Shoshone Canyon impounded behind the Buffalo Bill Dam. The canyon is framed by Rattlesnake Mountain to the north and Cedar Mountain to the south, and Logan Mountain lies along the northern shoreline further west. Elevations vary from approximately 5,400 feet in the state park to more than 12,000 feet on the horizon. A portion of the land in the park was acquired from Cody to implement the reservoir project.
Turning his real life adventures into the first outdoor western show, Buffalo Bill’s Wild West opened in1883, not in Cody, but in Omaha, Nebraska. Today, you can join the Rocky Mountain Dance Theatre, for the Wild West Spectacular, The Musical, a historically based, comedic, full-length production offered during the summer at the historic downtown Cody Theatre. During intermission, you can interact with the cast members in character and share stories at the bar.
The creation of Yellowstone National Park and protection of its astounding resources was not without challenges. The first Park Act called for administration with no cost to the United States, which unfortunately, did not protect the land or the wildlife from poaching and squatters. Finally, recognizing that America’s National Parks needed cohesive management, the National Park Service was established in 1916. Fortunately for all visitors since then, Yellowstone has remained a beautiful place with incredible wildlife and more thermal features than anywhere else in the world. It is best to allow at least one whole day to travel each of the two park loop roads. If you enjoy stopping at both the Visitor Centers and the natural attractions, it may take two days to thoroughly explore each loop.