Friday, October 2, 2020

Fun time with Buffalo Bill legend, lore in Cody, Wyoming

Cody's Buffalo Bill Center of the West is a world class complex of interesting and varied museums.

Irma Hotel diners enjoy a leisurely meal, as Queen Victoria's
beautiful bar forms an historic backdrop, a gift to Buffalo Bill.

MORE THAN 100 years after his death in 1917, Buffalo Bill Cody lives on in the western town of Cody, Wyoming.
Buffalo Bill Cody rode throughout the world
in his famous Wild West show.

 Named after the famed soldier, buffalo hunter and internationally known showman, the town of Cody pays homage to the flamboyant man in its world class museum, the Buffalo Bill Center of the West, and in a hotel named after his beloved daughter Irma.
WE SPENT a pleasant night and day in Cody, enroute to Yellowstone National Park, only 50 gorgeous miles away to the East Entrance. 

Cody is famous for its western ambiance, including a seasonal shootout at dusk by the Irma Hotel. Its historic bar, built in 1902, boasts stiff drinks while the restaurant serves up country cooking. The hotel's much photographed cherry wood bar was given to Buffalo Bill as thanks for his entrepreneurial tour of Europe and the United Kingdom.  Bestowing the gift was one of Bill's  ardent fans, England's Queen Victoria. Quaint rooms are also designed in the Victorian style.
IT'S FUN TO stroll the streets for western wear, rib-sticking food, ethnic fare including Asian and Mexican offerings, and galleries featuring western paintings, pottery and crafts.
A highlight of our Cody visit was an lively hour spent aboard a green trolley of Cody Trolley Tours. Two entertaining and knowledgeable guides walked us through the history of the town, with historical stories, photos, stops at various locations and audio clips. They highlight old and new attractions around town, with video clips, artwork and relics such as a buffalo horn. 
Cody Trolley Tours offers an entertaining look at the town.
 WE ENJOYED the stories of the guides, particularly the one claiming that Bill's body rests in a picturesque gravesite atop Lookout Mountain, high above the town of Golden, Colorado. While his will stipulated he be brought back to Cody, his widow, Louisa Cody, claimed that officials conspired to have Buffalo Bill buried in Denver. Others believe those are not really Buffalo Bill's remains.  They think that Bill's Cody friends talked their way into the mortuary after his sudden 1917 death in Denver. Lore says the pals switched the body before it was buried, bringing the real Bill back to Wyoming.  The controversy still fuels arguments.  
"Give us an hour and we'll give you 100 years," is Cody Trolley Tours' motto.  We take trolley tours all over the world, wherever offered.  This is one of the most fun we've experienced.
Cody is a lively place, and even with Covid, masking and distancing, we managed to enjoy ourselves. 
Cookie poses by a whimsical
Larry Pirnie art piece at the
Buffalo Bill Center of the West.

The shops, restaurants, an entertaining walking tour and planning for the Yellowstone and Grand Teton visit made the visit a pleasant one.  The Irma remains the city's grand dame, and you'll not want to miss an afternoon or morning at the Buffalo Bill Center for the West, with its impressive array of museums ranging from Plains Indian exhibits, to one of the world's finest displays of western art and a firearms collection considered the most impressive in the Americas.
CODY'S ROUGH and tumble roots have spawned a town both sophisticated and "small.'' It retains the feel of a western village but offering citified amenities the seasoned traveler expects. For instance, there's a popular dinner show with western fare and cowboy music produced by Cody Cattle Company, a nightly seasonal rodeo, and the long-running shoot-out outside the Irma. 
The acting is far from Broadway quality and the script is not Pulitzer material, but the half-hour show is a fun diversion. We sat with a couple of Swiss honeymooners and a family from Sacramento, all enjoying the spectacle. 
If you book the Trolley Tour, take advantage of its front-row seat perk. For $3 more than the $25 tour price, the tour's amiable office worker Mitch places a sticker on a chair and you're sitting front-row for the action. You'll meet Butch Cassidy, Sundance, the town drunk, and a couple of lively chorus girls. A fake town backdrop is set up in the street and traffic is closed off for the bank robbery and jail break.
THE OTHER much enjoyed feature of the tour was a visit to the extraordinary Buffalo Bill Dam.
 The trolley tour does a quick drive-by, so we stopped the next morning enroute to Yellowstone.
With guns blazing, actors in Cody's seasonal
nightly gunfight entertain a global audience
At its christening in 1910, it was heralded as an engineering marvel, one of the first concrete arch dams built in the United States. Standing an impressive 325 feet high, it was then the highest dam in the world -- even surpassing New York's famed Croton Dam. That's up next.
We also enjoyed a tasty, authentic Mexican meal at Zapata's, with its welcoming outdoor patio, excellent margaritas and pleasant, accommodating service.
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Spectacular view from the walkway above the Buffalo Bill Dam.
: The Buffalo Bill Dam Visitor Center offers an eye-catching walkway across the dam, with a view down to the beautiful Shoshone River.  It's on the way from Cody, Wyoming, to Yellowstone National Park's east entrance. The dam was completed 110 years ago in 1910, an engineering marvel at the time and still impressive today.  We'll take you there next week. Meanwhile, remember to explore, learn and live and catch us Fridays for a fresh look at travel, the arts, family, nature and more:   


  1. Great feature on one of our favorite western towns. Fun photos, too.

  2. Colorado companionsOctober 7, 2020 at 7:53 AM

    Enjoy your commentary and always fine photos....looking forward to the dam piece.