It wasn’t too windy on our drive between Casper and Cody, for which we were grateful. We skipped the interstate and took State Highway 20 Northwest to Shoshoni and due north to Thermopolis, then Highway 120 into Cody. It was a two-lane highway for most of the drive, but the lanes and shoulders were wide, and passing lanes were established on sections where we climbed in elevation. We were able to drive at our own pace and not worry about any traffic congestion. I wasn’t too much of a Nervous Nellie on this trip (Mike would probably argue that), but I did get a little hyped up when we drove through several tunnels cut out of mountain sides.
Our camp spot was located west of town at the Buffalo Bill State Park on the Buffalo Bill Reservoir. We were there for two weeks, and we only had electric and water hook-ups, so we had to move the rig to the dump station mid-way through our stay. The chore was only a slight inconvenience compared to the enjoyment we got out of our views and the area in general.
Cody is the most “western” town we have visited to date. I guess that makes sense because it was established by Buffalo Bill himself. I dare say the little town has as much character as the legend possessed back in his day. There are restaurants, shops, galleries, and museums to visit in town. Many ranches offer trail rides and other cowboy activities on the outskirts of the community. And of course, there was Yellowstone National Park. The campground where we stayed was fifty minutes from the East Entrance into YNP. This stop on our tour was most definitely the best time we spent in Wyoming (although, I should confess, shopping at the Sierra Trading Company Outlet and Distribution Center in Cheyenne was almost as thrilling)!
We had lots of good luck at this stop, and it started the minute we pulled up to the front gate. Mike had made reservations for us in spot #1 starting on Sunday, May 15th. However, we arrived the Thursday prior to that. The thinking was that we would take any open spot they had and then move to our reserved spot on the day our reservation started. When we got there, it just so happened that spot #1 was the only spot available! All the others with water and electric hook-ups were already taken. We got ourselves parked and situated, and never looked back!
When we went to Yellowstone our target destination was, of course, Old Faithful. Yellowstone is laid out in a Figure 8 pattern with entrances at the north, south, east and west ends. We came in from the East and drove the bottom circle of the 8 pattern that day. By the time we reached the big geyser it was about 1:00 PM. The dogs had to wait in the car, so we found a shady spot where we could park and roll the windows down. We weren’t on any sort of schedule that day, so there was no sense of urgency as we meandered through the cars to what looked like a big open area. As we got to the edge of the lot we saw THOUSANDS of tourists all standing at attention around Old Faithful. It was like church. Everything was hushed. People stood like statues with their phones lifted up, ready to capture the perfect picture when the time was right. We stepped up our pace at that point and found a small space in the crowd where we could see the action that was to come. I realized that the geyser must not go off at random, but on some sort of geological schedule. We stared at Old Faithful for a few minutes and I was wondering what was going on. Nothing was happening, so I asked the lady next to me how long they had been waiting there to see the eruption. She said they had been there an hour and forty minutes. WHAT??? I didn’t plan on standing there for THAT long! Then she said the park ranger sign said it was due to go off 15 minutes ago. Since Old Faithful was taking its own sweet time to peform, we arrived at the perfect moment! If it had gone off when they expected, we would have missed it… and I doubt we would have had the patience to stick around for the next “show”.
We left the interstate to get from Cody to Casper. Our route took us on State Highways 20 to 120 and it was a gorgeous drive. The best part was the Wind River Canyon Scenic Byway between Shoshoni and Thermopolis.
A taste of what my views out the passenger side window looked like as we drove from Casper to Cody.
Another shot of the scenery in Wind River Canyon.
This was our first view of Buffalo Bill Reservoir west of Cody. We emerged from yet another tunnel to see this!
The view from my desk for two weeks.
Spot #1 at Buffalo Bill State Park.
Mike’s view from his fishing spot.
A panorama of the campground entrance (wish we had discovered this photo feature earlier in our trip)!
One of the rare days that the sky was blue during our two weeks in Cody.
The furry duo checking out their human’s catch of the day. They insist on inspecting the bucket each time he returns to camp.
This trout turned out to have pink meat, which made us think he had caught a salmon. After asking around and looking online we discovered wild trout can have pink meat because of their diet. Tastes just as delicious.
The Carter mountains on the south side of the reservoir.
We set the alarm for 5AM to make our first trip into Yellowstone. When that sounded, we turned it off and went back to sleep. Our original idea was to drive in at sunrise to see as many animals as possible (like we did at Teddy Roosevelt National Park in Medora, ND), but when the time came we weren’t as gung-ho. We finally got on the road about 8:30, but Mike still hadn’t had enough coffee to be excited.
A beautiful Wyoming farm on the way to Yellowstone.
The east entrance road into Yellowstone National Park.
Some sections of the park looked to be decimated by fire, but other parts of the park that had recovered after past fires were lush with new growth. It was interesting to see all stages of the full cycle.
Yellowstone Lake is the largest freshwater lake above 7,000 feet in North America. It covers 136 square miles and has 110 miles of shoreline. The average depth is 139 feet, but scientists have noted that the floor has been rising in recent history, which indicates geologic activity.
Yellowstone National Park is so interesting because there are millions of acres of valleys and meadows and mountains… and then at random, there are these bubbling cauldrons of hot liquids and gases simmering at the earth’s surface.
This is where the Yellowstone Lake empties into Yellowstone River. The river runs north.
The photo album for the Martin’s American Adventure would not be complete without a selfie in front of Old Faithful (just wish I had thought to wear makeup that day)!
Waiting for Old Faithful to erupt.
There she blows!
We stopped for a picnic about midway through our driving tour of Yellowstone National Park. This was our view from the picnic table. Not sure what I liked better… the view or the sound.
The Gibbon River below the Gibbon Falls.
King of the Road.
We slowed waaay down to see these two bison face off.
We had a lengthy debate as to whether this was a moose or a horse beside the ranger residence at the east entrance. I said moose. Mike said horse (but I think that is just because I spotted it first and he didn’t want to admit he had missed it).
The primary thing that Mike wanted to see during our Yellowstone tour was elk. We drove ALL DAY for MANY miles, and what do you think we found about 4 miles from our campground as we returned home in the evening? A heard of elk in our “back yard”. Could have saved lots of gas!
We had no sewer connection, so had to move the rig to the dump station at the end of our first week. I waited with Piper and Cessna while Mike handled the dirty work.
Cedar Mountain, originally called Spirit Mountain by the Native Americans. There is great controversy as to whether Buffalo Bill Cody is buried somewhere on this mountain, or in Denver. If you look carefully at where the water touches the surface on the right side of this photo you might see a section of yellow rock (to the right of the red section of rock). This is a geothermal spot. Geothermal activity reaches from Yellowstone all the way to Cody.
The famous Irma Hotel in Cody. Doesn’t get any more nostalgic than this!
The City of Cody has placed statues of bison at various points along the community’s sidewalks and parks. Each one is individually painted by local artists. This guy’s theme was “respect the earth”.
Do you think that small tree stopped the boulder from rolling down the rest of the hill? Or do you think the little tree just grew around the giant rock. I like to think that little tree is a brave hero!
Some décor in the dining room of the Irma Hotel. We had the prime rib buffet on a Friday night and it was wonderful.
The hallway in the Irma Hotel.
Irma selfie (had to at least post one when I had some makeup on)!
Live music at the Irma Saloon. It was kind of like Cowboy Karaoke, except the wife controlled the machine and no members of the audience were invited to participate.
The City of Cody has about 35 deer that live in town. They like to do their civic duty by helping with the landscape.
A Bill Cody hologram at the Buffalo Bill Center of the West. This was an amazing museum with five different sections of outstanding collections. It was like visiting five world class museums in one building. The collections included the Plains Indian Museum, the Buffalo Bill Museum, The Draper Natural History Museum, The Whitney Art Museum and the Cody Firearms Museum. The $20 price of admission was worth every penny. There was so much to see we had to take a break in the snack bar between galleries. Mike refreshed himself with a beer while I scarfed down an ice cream cone. That gave us enough energy to get through to the end!
A golden eagle was hit by a car and rehabilitated by staff at the Draper Natural History Museum. He can’t fly anymore, so now he helps educate patrons about wildlife. They also had a vulture and another smaller hawk on display during their program.
Old Trail Town is the original town site of Cody. It is just a couple of miles west of today’s Main Street. A collection of authentic structures and furnishings have been acquired from different areas of the western frontier and relocated to the outdoor museum. A couple of the cabins are notable because they were used by the notorious outlaws Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.
I love these antler “trees” that randomly appear around town or on ranches.
Looks pretty cozy to me!
Upper Falls in the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone.
The Grand Canyon of Yellowstone.
You probably know I’m not a big fan of heights. I don’t like to say I’m acrophobic, but I am. We walked on a small ridge trail between the Upper Falls and Lower Falls, and when I saw these tree roots that had the earth literally fall out from under them I was slightly uncomfortable. I kept thinking about how un-fun it would be if the mountain slid out from underneath us. With all the bubbling earth around us, it wasn’t too hard to fathom.
We actually didn’t stop to see the Upper and Lower Falls on our first drive into Yellowstone. When we toured the Whitney Western Art Museum I kept seeing all these fabulous paintings from Yellowstone’s Artist Point. I was bummed we had missed the opportunity to see the spot for ourselves. When Mike suggested we make another drive into the park, I eagerly agreed. It was just as magnificent in person as it was in all those paintings!
We spotted these Bighorn Sheep on our second trip into Yellowstone. They were in the same general area on our way in as they were when we left.
We brake for deer.
This is the kookiest house I’ve seen since we started our trip. Actually… ever. Sorry the picture is dark. It was on the road to Yellowstone and it was always cloudy when we passed by.
Our last Wyoming campfire.
Cessna enjoyed the view from our front window as much as we did. Do you see how the trees are blowing sideways and the lake has white caps on it? It was super windy most of the time we were there.