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Yellowstone Road Trip Through Cody, Wyoming

Buffalo Bill Historical Center – Cody, Wyoming

Question: Sue asks: We are planning to drive from Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, to Mount Rushmore and then to Yellowstone. I am finding that hotels at Yellowstone are already booked and wonder what other lodging recommendations are reasonably close. Is Cody too far away? Any insight on "must-see" areas would be appreciated.

Answer: Suzy Peterson, travel planner at the Sioux Falls AAA office says: Cody is approximately 115 miles and a 2 1/2 drive from Yellowstone. It is a great place to stay even though it’s a bit of a drive back and forth.
Things to see in Yellowstone National Park include the majestic Lower Falls of the Yellowstone River, the predictable thrill of the Old Faithful, and an abundance of roaming wildlife in Lamar Valley – besides just enjoying the beauty of nature. Drive the 196-mile figure 8 loop to see striking natural features and wildlife throughout the park.

There are lots of things to see and do in Cody also: hiking in the mountains, rock climbing, river rafting and fishing to name just a few. You can go horseback riding, or visit Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid’s Hole-in-the-Wall cabin. Don't miss the Buffalo Bill Museum and Historical Center (especially if you are a history or western buff). As the "Rodeo Capital of the World," Cody boasts nightly rodeo performances; they also have special events almost every weekend in June and July.

Be sure to allow enough time for the Black Hills area. Many visitors are surprised at how much there is to see and do there besides Mt. Rushmore. Bear Country is a must-see, especially the bear cubs area at the end where you can watch the cubs playing. Reptile Gardens is amazing, and kids especially love this attraction. Custer State Park is an experience in itself. The buffalo are magnificent and the begging burros will entertain you. Iron Mountain Road with its pigtail curves and picturesque views is not to be missed. The Needles Highway is a remarkable drive with tunnels and more magnificent views. Don't forget to visit Crazy Horse, and continue to track the progress of what may be the world's largest sculpture when it’s completed. Be sure to take in a cave, and Wind Cave or Jewel Cave are awesome to see.

Hot Springs, South Dakota, is known for the Mammoth Site (an actual live dig) and Evans Plunge (a nice way to take a break). Don't forget to take in Devil's Tower National Monument on the way to Yellowstone. It's a great outdoor experience.

You can also read my recent blog entry about the Black Hills area and read Heidemarie Chernushin’s suggestions for Yellowstone in her blog post Yellowstone National Park: A Starting Point.

AAA.com's TripTik Travel Planner is an all-in-one online trip planning resource. Get turn-by-turn directions and maps, and identify AAA Approved lodgings along routes and at destinations. Dynamic icons show a property's AAA Diamond Rating, details about its services and amenities, and the rate range. The booking feature makes it easy to make reservations. Members can take advantage of AAA.com's low online rates at preferred partner hotels.
  • Heidemarie

    Cody is a great place to visit and I highly recommend the Buffalo Bill Musuem and Historic Center. You may want to stop in at the Irma Hotel for a sassparilla. (Well, maybe they don’t call it sassparilla any longer.) The Irma was built by Buffalo Bill and named for his daughter.

    While it’s important to make a reservation where ever you plan on staying, I suggest that you continue to try to make a reservation in Yellowstone. Many times there are cancellations opening up a room at the last minute.

    You also may want to consider staying in one of the other gateway cities including Gardiner, Montana to the north or West Yellowstone to the west. You could spend one night in Cody, spend the day driving through the park and spend a second night in Gardiner or West Yellowstone.

    Have a wonderful trip.

  • Jo Anne

    You might want to try both the Wyoming and Montana side as there are hotels and lodges both sides, as well as Jackson Hole Wyoming. Also, the Yellowstone Lodge within the park is a beautiful country setting lodge with elegant interiors.

  • http://www.renefrederiksen.dk/roadtrips/ René Frederiksen

    I came to Yellowstone from the south last year and stayed at West Yellowstone for a couple of nights doing the loops in the park, and then continued on to Cody.

    When visiting Yellowstone in the high season, it’s a good idea to book well in advance. 3 months prior to my trip, I was already too late for accommodation within the park, and the Days Inn I stayed at in West Yellowstone, was fully booked when I stayed there.

    Personally I think Cody is too far away from Yellowstone if you are going back and forth a few days. But it is perfect going to and from the park.
    I stayed at the Irma hotel, which is great and historic, and then there is the shoot out in front of the hotel every day, some great stores with cowboy things and then Cody has rodeos every evening throught the summer.

    All in all a great place to make a stop for the night.

    A video from the rodeo:
    http://www.renefrederiksen.dk/2009/02/15/roadtrip-2008-rodeo-i-cody-wyoming/

  • Tricia

    Cody is only about 50 miles away from the east entrance of Yellowstone. NOT 115 miles. I just drove this in May of 2012. The drive is one of the most scenic drives-mountains, rock formations, Shoshone river following the highway, Buffalo Bill Reservoir, tunnels-truly unique.
    There are a lot of lodges/dude ranches along this scenic highway that will take guests for 1 night to a week or longer.

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