Maybe you’ve visited winter in Wyoming, but you haven’t really experienced winter in Wyoming unless you’ve been to Cody. Just outside of the east entrance of Yellowstone National park, you’ll find trails in the woods, abundant wildlife, history of the American West, downhill skiing, and everything in between!
This story was created in partnership with Cody Yellowstone.
Morning: Scenic Drive and Look for Wildlife
Before a full day of pure fun outside, make sure to get in a hearty breakfast and a cup o’ joe at The Station, serving locally roasted coffee. The renovated 1950s gas station serves up a variety of crepes—both sweet and savory. Sleeping Giant Ski Resort is about an hour outside of Cody, up the North Fork Highway, just outside of Yellowstone’s east entrance. On your way there, take your time and look out for wildlife. There’s no rush, as you’ll be on the ski hill all day. Ski rentals can be reserved from Sleeping Giant or from Sunlight Sports in Cody.
Afternoon: Downhill Ski Just Outside of Yellowstone National Park
Sleeping Giant boasts two ski lifts, 48 named runs, and a cozy lodge offering food from the grill, so we recommend spending the whole day downhill skiing and enjoying the feeling of just being “out there.” The resort offers ski lessons, a magic carpet, a tubing hill, a terrain park, and runs in the trees, making it fun for all levels of skiers.
At the end of the day, head back into Cody, looking out for wildlife along the way—bison, elk, and bighorn sheep are known to frequent the North Fork Highway. Enjoy dinner and drinks at Trailhead, famous for their wood-fired pizza!
Morning: Experience the Wild West Through this Smithsonian Affiliate
If you love the American West and its history, you’re in the right place. Cody is home to the Buffalo Bill Center of the West, a complex of five family-friendly museums sharing the stories of Yellowstone and the American West. Winter in Cody is a great time to spend hours in these museums. Tickets here are good for two consecutive days, as most people realize they need at least that much time to see all of it. We recommend booking at least one of their tours such as an exclusive, expert-led tour of the Firearms Museum, a traditional cowboy chuckwagon dinner, or even a Buffalo Bill horseback ride!
Afternoon: Shoot a Gun for the First Time—Or Maybe Your 100th Time!
After strolling through the Firearms Museum at the Buffalo Bill Center of the West, you might be wondering what it would be like to shoot some of those classic guns from decades ago, like the 1873 Winchester or the 1862 Gatling Gun. Well, you’re in luck! Just down the street you’ll find Cody Firearms Experience, where you can go to fire such classic guns at their indoor shooting range—under the guidance of a trained professional, of course. They also offer more modern rifles and handguns for shooting, as well. If you’ve never shot a gun before, this is the perfect time to try!
Morning: Nordic Ski Through a Real-Life Winter Wonderland
Nordic skiing, or cross-country skiing, is one of the most family-friendly ways to enjoy nature in the winter. There are two different types: classic and skate skiing. If you’ve never been or you’re a beginner, we recommend classic. It’s fairly easy to pick up, and you can move at any pace you please and glide along the snow while taking in the views. Drive back out towards Sleeping Giant Ski Resort, where the Park County Nordic Ski Association maintains 11.8 miles of cross-country ski trails. Again, folks can rent skis from the resort or from Sunlight Sports in town. Explore the trails directly from the ski lodge, or drive a bit further down the road and park at Pahaska Tepee Resort to check out some other trails.
Afternoon: Don’t Forget what Used to be There
Heart Mountain is an iconic mountain in Cody, having a prominent square-top to it. The acres beneath were primarily used for farming, but they were also “home” to 14,000 Japanese Americans incarcerees. After the bombing of Pearl Harbor, ten confinement sites were erected across the U.S. where the government unjustly forced Japanese Americans, and Heart Mountain Relocation Center was one of them. Many of those Japanese Americans lived there for years—babies were born there, kids graduated high school there. Today, Heart Mountain Interpretive Center sits on the site where the camp used to be, telling stories of what life was like for those citizens.
Winter in Cody offers a gorgeous “winter wonderland” experience, and the best part is that there are hardly any other tourists visiting, but the restaurants and shops still stay open. Visitors don’t have the worry about Cody being a “ghost town” in the winter—there’s more than enough to do and see!