If you want an authentic western experience, then you should visit Cody, Wyoming. The town was founded by William F. “Buffalo Bill” Cody and is the gateway to the east side of Yellowstone National Park. While it is a popular summer destination because of Yellowstone, nightly Cody Rodeo, and Wild West fun at Old Trail Town, it is a year round destination. Just be prepared for fast-changing and windy weather in fall and winter.
Fall in Cody
Fall is a little slower in Cody, outside of colors peaking in early to mid October and busy hunting weekends. With its illustrious past, Cody has some haunted places and around Halloween is a spooktacular time for a little ghost hunting. The most famous haunted spot is the historic Irma Hotel, which was Buffalo Bill’s original hotel and named after his youngest daughter. During my recent late October visit, I was in the ladies restroom on the main level and the toilet in the stall next to me flushed on its own. There’s only two stalls and I was the only person in there….or so I thought. The restroom was Buffalo Bill’s office and is considered the most haunted spot in the Irma. If staying in an inn is more your speed, fall is a wonderful time to escape to the Chamberlin Inn whether you’re in Cody on business or just a quick R&R getaway. The historic boutique hotel was a favorite of Ernest Hemingway. The hotel’s conservatory is delightful with the fire warming the room. It’s a great space to enjoy coffee or a handcrafted cocktail. It’s also a great workspace, especially when you need a dose of creative inspiration like I needed.
This trip gave me a great excuse to dive into some retail therapy along with visiting a few of my favorite spots to eat and drink. Honestly, my previous visits to Cody were packed with outdoor adventures. While I have spent time in Cody’s downtown, I hadn’t had time to peruse the stores and galleries. On this trip I was pleasantly surprised by the caliber of shops along Sheridan Avenue.
Imbibe on the Sippin’ Trail
Cody launched its Sippin’ Trail Pass this past summer. It’s a fun way to sample local libations and earn free prizes along the way. On this trip my friend Adeina and I stopped in Pat O-Hara Brewing Company for dinner our first night. It’s the first all-women owned and operated brewery in Wyoming. We split a great house salad then I noshed on their delicious fish and chips while sipping the cider on tap.
Coffee, Breakfast, and Lunch
My go to for a latte in Cody is Rawhide Coffee. It’s a favorite of locals and you’ll likely see more than one or two cowboys or adventure guides in there, especially in the early morning.
Annie’s Soda Saloon and Cafe was a new find for me. Housed in a 1915 jewelry and drug store, Annie’s is a throwback to an old-fashioned soda shop. We stopped in for lunch and liked it so much we went back for breakfast the next morning. For lunch I opted for the soup and salad combo. The next day for breakfast, the burrito with Annie’s original salsa hit the spot.
Fall is a great time for soup and Cowgirl Cuisine food truck serves up several hearty options daily. You get soup, fry bread and a water for $10. Ask a local for the food truck’s location.
Take a Scenic Drive
Theodore Roosevelt called the road between Cody and Yellowstone National Park “the 50 most beautiful miles in America.” Known as the Buffalo Bill Cody Scenic Byway, locals refer to it as the North Fork. You can drive just a few miles or all the way to Yellowstone on US-14 following the North Fork of the Shoshone River through the Wapiti Valley and East Yellowstone Valley. After the highway skirts Buffalo Bill Reservoir keep an eye out for elk, deer, and if you’re lucky maybe a bear. As you pass by the intriguing rock formations look for bighorn sheep. There’s tons of wildlife in the valley before you to the Yellowstone’s east gate 52 miles from Cody. As we drove the North Fork, we enjoyed some fall colors, snow covered mountains, and hundreds of elk bedded down in a field as a cold front was starting to move in. If you have time, add a drive in the South Fork Valley to look for wildlife while enjoying its beautiful scenery.
Shop for Authentic Western Wear
Having lived for years in Texas and Colorado, I have an affinity for western clothes. As a cowgirl wannabe I’m always looking for fabulous fringed, sparkly, or textured clothes to go with my beloved Stetson hat and Lucchese boots. Wild West Emporium in the Irma Hotel is one of my favorite western wear shops in the country. It has everything from affordable fun tees to luxurious leather goods. The wall of boots is swoon worthy. There are some fabulous one of a kind finds among the boots that range from understated to ultra flashy. One of my favorite finds is a ball cap that says “bad decisions make good memories” I got during a summer visit. The motto might be the story of my life! This visit I hit the sale racks and picked up an Irma tee, turquoise henley, and black velvet dress.
Shop for Outdoor Gear
A friend, who’s a local, mentioned Sunlight Sports was also having a fall sale so of course we had to to check it out. Both Adeina and I scored sale items. I also picked up a great pair of The North Face leggings and a Vuori long sleeve tee. Both are great for outdoors and travel! In addition to a fabulous array of outdoor gear, Sunlight Sports also has a winter gear rental service if you want skis, snowboard, snowshoes, or cross country skis if you visit Cody in winter.
Shop in Cody’s Cutest Boutique
Mtn Grl is the shop I’ve been wanted to check out the most in Cody. I window shopped on previous visits, but this time I got to do some good retail therapy in this cute boutique. It exceed my expections and I picked up a couple of fun finds including a vegan leather puffy vest, sweater vest, and wide brim felt hat.
Happy Hour and Dinner
A cocktail in the Chamberlin’s Cocktail Lounge and Conservatory is always a must for me while in Cody, but let me give you a couple of my other favs. Blanca Tatanka is in the newly remodeled Scout Inn and has a modern western chic atmosphere. I sipped a glass of prosecco as Adeina and I split chips and guacamole and Bloody Mary deviled eggs for our second night in Cody. They have a wonderful menu but we had a late lunch and kept it light for dinner. For our last night in Cody on this trip, we went to Silver Saddle Saloon in the Irma. The hotel is known for its prime rib in the dining room with the cherrywood back bar given by Queen Victoria to Buffalo Bill. But, I prefer to saunter into the saloon. Perhaps that’s the outlaw troublemaker in me! Kidding of course. We split the spinach artichoke dip served warm in a bread bowl with homemade pita chips. I’m a fan of the Irma’s huckleberry mule and paired that with a Caesar salad and side of mashed potatoes, which didn’t make the photo before I woofed them down! It was the perfect last stop in Cody as cold front kicked up the wind and dropped a cold drizzle ahead of the town’s first big snowstorm of the season.
Think About Visiting Cody in Winter
My first visit to Cody was actually in winter for a snowmobile adventure into Yellowstone National Park. It was wild visit and the reason why winter is my favorite season in Yellowstone. Check out post Yellowstone National Park’s Season of Snow and Steam if you want to learn more about the snowmobile fun. I also fell in love with the boutique historic hotel Chamberlin Inn on that trip, which is why I’ve stayed there on repeat visits. Cody is a world renowned ice climbing destination. There’s tons of opportunities for snowmobiling, snowshoeing, and cross country skiing. Sleeping Giant Ski Area is less than an hour from Cody and Red Lodge Mountain is under 1.5 hours away for skiing and riding. As the fall colors drop away and a blanket of white settles in, think about visiting Cody in winter. It’s WAY less crowded than summer.
Author Jennifer Broome has visited Cody multiple times and has a soft spot for this authentic western town and the crazy Wyoming weather.