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A Glimpse of the Real West
If you’re searching for the real American West, look no further than Cody, Wyoming. This city was founded in 1896 by that most authentic representative of the Old West, Colonel William F. “Buffalo Bill” Cody.
Buffalo Bill lived up to the romantic idea of the brave, daring frontiersman. Through his personal exploits and his Wild West Show, he became the world’s most well known American. It is his name that represents the true epitome of the Old West and has provided a draw to this small western town, where real cowboys still herd cattle and the buffalo still roam.
Cody, Wyoming, the eastern gateway to Yellowstone National Park, is a small western town with big city attributes.
The city of Cody lies about 33 km (20 mi.) east of the Shoshone National Forest, our first national forest, and 86 km (52 mi.) east of the eastern entrance to the nation’s first national park, Yellowstone. Nestled at the base of the Wyoming Rocky Mountains, Cody blends the old with the new without sacrificing any of its truly western character.
The Buffalo Bill Historical Center in Cody is widely regarded as America’s finest western museum. Its 300,000 square feet of exhibition space certainly make is one of America’s largest, featuring five separate museums under one roof. The Whitney Gallery of Western Art presents an outstanding collection of masterworks of the American West, including original painting, sculptures and prints of the West from the early 19th century until today. The Cody Firearms Museum houses the world’s largest and most important assemblage of American arms, as well as European arms dating back to the 16th century. The newly renovated Plains Indian Museum ranks as one of the nation’s finest interpretations of the American Indian civilization. The Buffalo Bill Museum contains a wealth of material relating to the life of Buffalo Bill Cody, celebrating his varied career as Pony Express rider, frontiersman, scout, buffalo hunter, rancher and creator ands star of the first Wild West Show. The fifth museum, the Draper Museum of Natural History is a dynamic state-of-the-art, user-friendly exploration of relationships between humans and nature in the Greater Yellowstone area.
Billing itself as “the Rodeo Capital of the World,” Cody also provides a unique opportunity to catch the excitement of real rodeo in a western setting. The Cody Nite Rodeo is the only seven-night-a-week rodeo (June-August) in the country. It is true family entertainment at its best.
Old Trail Town represents an old Wyoming town created with frontier buildings dating from 1879 to 1900 that have been collected from all over the state. Some of these historically documented building include the Hole-in-the-Wall cabin used by Butch Cassidy, the Sundance Kid and the Hole-in-the-Wall Gang, and Curley’s Cabin, used by the Crow Indian scout to General Custer in the Battle of the Little Big Horn.
Another authentic Cody landmark is the Irma Hotel, listed on the National Register of Historic Places. It was built by Buffalo Bill, as a luxury hotel, epitomizing the essence of western hospitality. He named it for his youngest daughter, Irma, and opened it with suitable fanfare in 1902. Today, the Irma remains the gathering place of tourists and townspeople, and each night in the summer serves as a great place to watch the reenactment of an authentic Old West gunfight.
Set against the beautiful backdrop of Yellowstone National Park and the Absaroka and Beartooth mountains, Cody is the doorstep to some of the nation’s most scenic country. Outdoor enthusiasts enjoy a myriad of activities, including horseback riding, hiking, hunting, fishing, mountain biking, rock climbing, whitewater rafting, golfing and camping.
Panoramic views and abundant wildlife create some of the most extraordinary scenic drives in the country. West of Cody, the East Yellowstone Valley is home to the wapiti, or elk, as well as the grizzly bear, bighorn sheep, moose, deer, the bald eagle and other wildlife. A sharp eye might spot these animals feeding along the banks of the streams, on grassy benchlands, or sunning amidst steep mountain cliffs.
Much more than history and the feel of the Old West can be found in Cody, Wyoming. Modern accommodations from locally owned and chain hotels to dude ranches and guest ranches cater to thousands of tourists each year. Fine restaurants, unique western clothing boutiques, and art and furniture galleries entice from all over the world.
To thousands of visitors each year, Cody is an unexpected treasure from the past, with an authentic western flair.