“That’s cowboy country,” I heard many people say as I prepared for my trip to Cody, a small town located in western Wyoming (many people pass it in the summer as they are driving to Yellowstone).
And indeed, they were correct. Named for Buffalo Bill – the most famous man in the world in his day – the town is known for its rodeos that take place every night in the warmer months. Oversized hats, colorful scarves, exquisite belts and fancy boots were just a few of the en vogue fashion items I saw on some Cody residents during my four-day stay.
But Cody is a great spot for winter relaxation as well. There are fewer crowds and several attractions, not to mention winter sports and scenic drives.
Cody is easy to access in the summer, though in the winter you might want to bypass mountain roads (many of which close from snow) and fly into Cody’s airport, Yellowstone Regional Airport. Delta and United offer regular daily service via Salt Lake City and Denver, and from the airport you can be in town having a glass of wine within 30 minutes.
When you get into town, point your wheels toward the Chamberlin Inn. The historic hotel, where Ernest Hemingway once stayed, is right in the middle of town, so you can walk to Cody’s antique shops, cowboy gear stores, and museums. Ask staff to show you photos of the inn before the 2005 renovations –you’ll appreciate the gorgeous interiors even more after looking at the old photos of dark wood paneling and the scary floral print that used to be everywhere.
If you can make it out of the Chamberlin (this may be difficult, as the claw foot bathtubs, high end toiletries, and high thread count sheets may force you to linger), stroll down Main Street. The streets are extra wide because of Buffalo Bill wanted to be able to turn his stage coaches around without stopping. Practical then, and now, it seems.
If you still have some daylight left, end the day with a scenic drive – the wide open roads are not busy so you can drive at your own pace. The visitor’s center downtown has some great maps and can provide recommendations, but my tip is to head to Meeteese, just a half an hour away.
Why? Because you’ll want to stock up for the weekend at the Meeteetse Chocolatier. It’s run by Tim Kellogg, a total gentleman who started by selling chocolate out of his truck to afford a saddle.
His flavors range from olive oil/rosemary to India Pale Ale – there isn’t a bad chocolate in the house. Next door is the Meeteetse Museum, which offers a nice overview of the ranch lifestyle, and some beautiful photography too.
After a refreshing night at the Chamberlin, grab breakfast on Main Street and get an early start at Cody’s crowning attraction, the Buffalo Bill Historic Center. This isn’t one but actually five museums covering local heritage, arts, geology, and of course, a lengthy exhibition on the center’s namesake. The center is huge but your ticket is good for two days, so you can break your time here up a bit.
You can also take advantage of the winter season to head up to Sleeping Giant, a local ski resort and cross country ski area. It’s a small, low-key place, located just outside the east gates of Yellowstone National Park (which are closed in winter, although you can ski or snowmobile in, if you are feeling ambitious).
You can ski, snowshoe, or nordic to your heart’s content here – there’s even a Snow Rodeo coming up later this month! You could spend just a few hours here or an entire day, depending on the weather conditions and your appetite for the outdoors.
No matter how stressed you might be, a relaxed Cody weekend can fix it. Admire the scenic views, get inspired by Buffalo Bill’s legacy, and cuddle up under those amazing duvets at the Chamberlin. Winter never felt so good.
Thanks to the Park Country Travel Council for all their hospitality and support of this trip.