11 Days in Wyoming’s Yellowstone-Cody Area
Wyoming calls to everyone who finds inner peace outdoors, new adventure in the Old West and deep connections from disconnecting. Answer the call with a road trip through this beautifully rugged state. This 11-day road trip through northern Wyoming’s Cody and Yellowstone region features outdoor adventure, dinosaur remains and a healthy dose of Western culture.
Day 1: Buffalo Bill State Park
Reserve a campsite at Buffalo Bill State Park prior to you departure. Then check in and spend a day exploring the Absaroka Mountains, hiking, trout fishing and wind surfing opportunities this park has to offer. This campsite will serve as your home base for the next five days.
Day 2: Beartooth Scenic Byway
Dubbed “the most beautiful drive in America” by a CBS journalist, Beartooth National Scenic Byway is well-worth exploring. It will take about five hours to get to the Beartooth Scenic Byway, taking Chief Joseph Scenic Byway from Cody. Plan to spend five to six hours driving this 47-mile loop, taking time to stop at scenic overlooks and other points of interest along the way. You can either pack your own lunch or eat lunch at the Red Lodge.
When you’ve had your fill of incredible views, head back to downtown Cody for dinner at the Irma Hotel. This hotel was built by “Buffalo Bill” William F. Cody in 1902. Today it features historic rooms and a restaurant that serves up delicious American food. To be safe, make reservations in advance. After dinner, return to your campground at Buffalo Bill State Park.
Day 3: Yellowstone National Park & Cody Nite Rodeo
Get an early start to your day and drive 42 miles (50 minutes) to Yellowstone National Park. See Old Faithful, the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone and more iconic features of America’s first national park. If you are in town between June 1-29 or July 5-August 31, be sure to buy tickets for the Cody Nite Rodeo. This Wyoming rodeo takes place every night during the summer (except for the first week of July, during which the Cody Stampede Rodeo is held) from 8-10 p.m. Return to your campsite after taking in all the rodeo action.
Day 4: Sleeping Giant Zipline or Yellowstone National Park
For an exhilarating alpine adventure, travel 34 miles (about 45 minutes) west to Sleeping Giant Ski Area. Here you will find a fun zipline that will take you cruising over Shoshone National Forest with views of the Absaroka Mountains along the way. Be sure to reserve your ziplining adventure in advance, and plan to spend two hours flying over some of Wyoming’s most pristine landscapes. If not everyone in your crew wants to zipline, some can continue four miles west for more time at Yellowstone National Park.
Regroup at your Buffalo Bill campsite before traveling 15 miles (about 20 minutes) to Silver Dollar Bar for drinks and dinner. Then return to camp for the night.
Day 5: Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area
Travel northeast for 58 miles (about 1.25 hours) toward Lovell, Wyoming, for a day at Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area. For the best views of the towering canyon walls, reserve a spot on a boat tour by the Horseshoe Bend Marina. This marina also rents kayaks, canoes, SUP boards and more if you’d prefer to explore Bighorn Lake in another way. After your day on the water, return to your campsite at Buffalo Bill State Park for the evening.
Day 6: Fly Fishing
Drive 15 miles (about 20 minutes) to North Fork Anglers to enjoy a day of fly fishing along Wyoming’s Shoshone River. You can choose from a variety of guided fly fishing trips, including float trips, wade trips and horseback pack trips. Be sure to schedule your trip in advance. Depending on what you choose, you could spend a half or full day casting a line in this breathtaking part of Wyoming. At the end of the day, head back to Buffalo Bill State Park.
Day 7: Beer & Cowboys
Spend the morning relaxing at camp before making the 15 mile drive (about 20 minutes) into Cody for lunch and beer tasting at Pat O’Hara Brewery. Choose from 15 craft beers on tap and a mouthwatering selection of pub grub. Next, get a true sense of the Cowboy State at the Buffalo Bill Center of the West. Discover art and history exhibits showcasing the life of Indians, pioneers and cowboys of Wyoming.
When you’re finished learning about the west, head to the Cody Cattle Company to experience it. This restaurant features meals and music sure to please the most rootin’ tootin’ cowboys. Dinner starts at 5:30, with shows starting at 6:30. We recommend making reservations in advance. After the show, return to camp for your last night at Buffalo Bill State Park.
Day 8: Small Town Chocolate & Wind River Camping
Pack up camp and begin traveling to Boysen State Park, where you will be spending your last few days of this trip. Be sure to stop in Meeteetse to grab something sweet at Meeteetse Chocolatier. This artisan chocolate shop was born from a local cowboy whose mom talked him into selling truffles to raise money for a new saddle. Meeteetse Chocolatier is closed Mondays and Tuesdays.
Spend the remainder of your day setting up camp and exploring Boysen State Park.
Day 9: Dinosaurs & Hot Springs
Travel 35 miles (about 50 minutes) to the Wyoming Dinosaur Center in Thermopolis. Here, you can explore the world-class museum, learn about the center’s preparation lab or even spend a day digging for your own fossils. The center’s Dig for a Day program allows visitors to spend time working on an actual dig site for a fee ($150/adult, $100/child).
After you’ve had your fill of dinosaurs, take a stroll through Hot Springs State Park. This park features hot springs and other thermal features that have created other-worldly landforms. Take a dip in the park’s free bath house, which holds natural, 104-degree hot springs water. You might even see the park’s local bison herd, which roams through town along open pastures.
Return to Boysen State Park after your day in Thermopolis.
Day 10: Wyoming Whiskey
Wyoming and whiskey just go together. This is why you can’t end your trip without visiting Wyoming’s first distillery, Wyoming Whiskey. Drive 47 miles (about one hour) north along the Bighorn River to Kirby, Wyoming, where this distillery is located. Spend the afternoon sampling whiskey and learning about this Wyoming spirit. You can take part in a tour if you arrive on a weekday to really discover what makes this locally-crafted whiskey so special.
Day 11: Whitewater Rafting
Take advantage of your proximity to the Bighorn River by going on a rafting or fly fishing excursion. Contact Wind River Canyon Whitewater & Fly Fishing to book a thrilling whitewater rafting trip, a scenic float trip or a fly fishing float trip. Then spend your afternoon admiring the towering walls of the Wind River Canyon from the river that carved it.
This Wyoming itinerary was put together based on the Call of the WY tiny house road trip that took place over the summer of 2017. Stay tuned for more Call of the WY itineraries so you can create your own epic Wyoming adventure.