6 Free Things To Do In Cody WY

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Cody Wyoming is known for being the gateway to Yellowstone National Park. A small city with lots of amenities and welcoming people excited to have you visit their town, Cody is an ideal place to set up base camp when exploring the park. If you're traveling on a budget, here are six free things to do in Cody WY, with a few budget-friendly favorites thrown in for good measure. 

6 Free Things To Do In Cody WY

Downtown Cody WY
Photo: Cody Yellowstone.

Cody Wyoming is about an hour's drive from the East entrance of Yellowstone National Park and is a great place to set up basecamp while exploring Yellowstone. 

Elk in Cody WY.
Photo: Cody Yellowstone

1. Learn As You Go With Travel Storys

Travel Storys is a library of app-based stories that complement your travel route. Download the app, free in the iTunes and Google Play stores, and select a tour that aligns with your location and interests. 

The Chief Joseph Scenic Byway Travel Story is a great choice to listen to while driving from Cody to the park. The scenery along the drive is gorgeous but the Travel Story segment adds depth and interest to the sights you'll see as you make your way to Yellowstone. All stories and downloads are location-based, so the audio narrative will coincide with what you're seeing outside your car windows. It's hands-free, so you can safely focus on the road, if you're the driver, and no one is having to fuss with the app along the way to make it work. Just download the Chief Joseph Scenic Byway story, push play, and begin driving. 

Great For All Travelers

This is a great free activity for anyone but it's a perfect choice for kids who might turn their noses up at educational travel. It also makes the car ride from Cody into Yellowstone National Park go by quickly, so if you've got any “Are we there yet?” passengers, this just might be the ticket. 

The Chief Joseph Scenic Byway is a 47-mile stretch of highway located in north-central Wyoming, running through the picturesque Absaroka Mountains. The episode has 12 geotags and lasts about an hour. The audio tour gets you most of the way from Cody to the park. There are also two other free tours offered by Travel Story that feature Cody.

2. Explore the Buffalo Bill Dam Visitor's Center

Located six miles west of Cody, the Buffalo Bill Dam Visitor's Center is a must-do if you're building your list of free things to do in Cody WY. The Visitor's Center has a short film that tells the story of how the dam was built and why it's important, an interpretive center with exhibits to explore, and a gift shop that sells souvenirs as well as tickets to the Cody Nite Rodeo, which happens nightly from June through August. 

The coolest part about visiting the dam is getting to walk across the top of the dam and looking down nearly 300 feet into the Shoshone River and the Buffalo Bill Reservoir. It's about a five-minute walk from the parking area to the visitor's center and dam but there's a free golf cart shuttle for anyone who isn't up to the walk or is just saving their steps. 

3. Visit Buffalo Bill's Hunting Lodge

To visit Cody is to become immersed in the history of Buffalo Bill Cody, but a visit to Pahashka Teepee gives a unique look into Cody's downtime. Built in 1904, this hunting lodge sits just outside the East Gate of Yellowstone National Park. It was called “Pahaska” after the nickname given to him by the local Native Americans, meaning “long hair.” The rustic log lodge displays many gifts given to Cody by guests. A restaurant and gift shop are housed in an adjacent building. 

4. Go Hiking and walking

While Yellowstone National Park – not free – has no shortage of hiking trails, there are places to hike around Cody that don't require park admission. Don't miss getting your steps in by walking in downtown Cody – there are lots of shops and galleries to check out if you enjoy window shopping, Or, pop inside for unique clothing, gifts, and home decor items. 

5. Catch a Gunfight at the Irma Hotel

Although the days of real gunfights are gone, visitors to Cody can enjoy an entertaining simulation courtesy of the Cody Wild Bunch as they engage in Western skits that always end up in a gunfight (often prompted by a damsel in distress). This performance is available most nights in the summer. 

6. Check out local goods and produce at the Cody Farmer's Market

Sample local produce and check out goods and crafts from local vendors at this Saturday market. The market is open every Saturday from 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. all summer long, and from 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. between October and April. And, while the market is free to visit, you're likely going to want to buy something, but use this as an opportunity to grab some local fruit or snacks for a low-cost lunch. 

On a Budget? Make Room for One, Some, or All of These Activities

Old Trail Town in Cody WY
Photo: Cody Yellowstone

While not free, the list of activities is a fantastic way to explore Cody. As with planning any trip, you're probably looking at a combination of free things, lower-budget activities, and splurges. The choices below come at a variety of price points and are easy to work into most budgets.





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