Center of the West, Cody, WY

I’ve had no trouble filling the last three days in Cody.

Sunday was a bit of a down day for me. Vicki left for work around 7:00 and I got up very shortly thereafter. I got started on some work due Monday and didn’t go out until the afternoon, walking up and down Sheridan Avenue (main street) to get a sense of Cody’s tiny downtown.

Cody is, of course, named after William F. “Buffalo Bill” Cody, the man who brought the Wild West to the world. It is my favourite kind of tourist town, similar to Dawson, as it is a robust community that exists outside of its tourism draw. There’s lots to do, plenty of good food, and the locals are very friendly.

Monday and Tuesday were eaten up by my visits to the massive Buffalo Bill Center of the West. This centre is actually five separate and unique museums. The centre is so large that your admission ticket ($19 for an adult) is valid for two consecutive days.

I started with a visit of the Draper Natural History Museum, all about the geography, ecosystems, flora, and fauna of the Yellowstone region. I liked how it was laid out, starting at the top of a mountain at about 6,000 ft, and then gently guiding you down to lower elevations. I especially liked the video on how to deal with a bear encounter and the giant mosaic map of the region.

Next, I went to the Buffalo Bill Museum. This was my favourite of the five! I really didn’t know much about either the man or the actor and this was a very comprehensive exhibit, full of artifacts from his life and shows. My favourite part was that there was actual video of one of his 1910 shows! This was so amazing to watch (especially the bit where we could hear him speak!) that I came back the next day and watched the video again! The video showed among other things, the popular “attack of the Deadwood stagecoach” portion of the show… with the actual stagecoach right behind me, restored to brilliant yellow! I saw a lot of myself in Buffalo Bill and I’m glad that I got to know him here.

Then, it was time to break for an early lunch. There was a coffee and sandwich bar at the museum that I decided to check out since I would otherwise have to walk back to town (not a long distance, maybe half a mile, but I didn’t want to spend the time). I was pleasantly surprised to find gourmet coffee and custom made sandwiches at a reasonable price and enjoyed my lunch so much I had the same thing (with different sandwich fillings) the next day!

I finished my day at the Plains Indian Museum. I kind of went quickly through this one, planning to do a second circle of it the next day since I was getting a bit tired. Lots of beautiful beadwork on exhibit and I liked learning about how the coming of the horse didn’t so much change local culture, but rather enhanced existing practice.

Before heading home, I stopped at the centre’s gift shop, where I picked up a pair of moose stud earrings. The cashier said that they were the most Canadian thing she’s ever seen, LOL.

By the time I got back to the campground, it was close to 2:00. I worked a bit until Vicki came home and then we did the grown up thing and went out to do laundry. We were supposed to have leftover soup from Sunday for dinner, but by the time we got done with laundry we were beat and instead decided to try the restaurant attached to the business where she works since she gets a hefty discount. The discount was enough that I went ahead and had the steak and prawns!

Tuesday was very similar to Monday. I got up and did some work, then headed out late morning to the museum. The man at the ticket counter recognised me (!) and thanked me for coming back.

I started with the Whitney Western Art Museum which had not appealed to me for some odd reason. No idea why since it was filled with sculpture and paintings of my favourite landscapes. I might not have been born in the West, but I always knew I would live there on the open plains. This museum had an audio guide, so I spent a lot more time than I thought I would.

Next, I went to the Cody Firearms Museum, of which I had about zero interest, but which gun nuts could easily spend a day or two in! So many firearms, from the mid 1400s all the way to today, and by all the major manufacturers. I tried my hand at “shooting a pistol” (no ammo in it) and did like the older weapons with a lot of carvings that made them works of art, but really didn’t spend much time.

Coming out of the firearms museum, I noticed a gallery along the walls of the mezzanine holding the administration offices, so I went up to check it out. I was perplexed to find a painting depicting a scene from Vancouver Island!

It was a bit early for my final exhibit, so I went back to the Buffalo Bill Museum to rewatch all the videos of him and then did a final circuit of the Plains Indian Museum.

Finally, I attended the raptor demonstration outside, where I saw a great horned owl, a peregrine falcon, and a red tailed hawk. This was an informal talk where the raptors sit on their handler’s hand and do not fly or perform tricks. It was very informative and I liked seeing the birds up close.

I’ve traveled all over this continent and have been to all manner of attractions. Cody’s Buffalo Bill Center of the West ranks right up there for me with Montréal’s Biodôme, the National Aquarium in Baltimore, the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum in Washington D.C., and the City Museum in St. Louis — a destination unto itself.

I’m not sure what I will do Wednesday. I have work to do in the morning and there’s not really anything more for me to see in town (the lovely gals at the vistors’ centre all pointed me to things outside of town), so I’ll probably just pop into the Irma Hotel and then walk around off the main drag. Vicki and I do have plans for Thursday a short distance from Cody!

5 thoughts on “Center of the West, Cody, WY

  1. Nice post on Cody, thanks for taking the time to share. Cute moose earrings but when would you ever wear them 🙂

    • Thanks!

      I don’t wear as many earrings in SK because I don’t go out much, so they will be in my ears all the time to prevent the holes from closing up. 🙂

  2. When I went through the “Center” I spent all of day one in the Whitney Western Art Museum and the Cody Firearms Museum. Then day two was a half day for the other three museums with probably my least time in the Buffalo Bill Museum.

    I tried my hand at “shooting a pistol” is not incorrect but the handgun that you were shooting is now more commonly called a revolver. The term pistol has evolved to mean a semiautomatic handgun to differentiate the two handguns.
    If I had not seen the picture, and known where you were, when you said “shooting a pistol” I would have thought you were shooting a semiautomatic handgun.

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