Cody, Wyoming: Forever West by Terry Zinn

While strolling main street in Cody, Wyoming I came across a neon sign, “Long Live Cowboys.” Cody is proud of its western heritage, exemplified in this sign. However, Cody has gone a step farther and the sign could read, “Long Live The West.” The West is definitely preserved and presented for viewing and learning satisfaction at Cody’s Buffalo Bill Center of the West Museum.
Through five distinct yet connected museums ~ Man of the West, Man of the World; Whitney Gallery of Western Art; Plains Indians Museum; Cody Firearms Museum and the Draper Museum of Natural History ~ the Center of the West is preserving the past and educating the future. And for the more devoted student of history the McCracken Research Library holds a wealth of literary treasures. The Center is so extensive that it takes an entire day just to walk through the exhibits. If you plan to linger and soak up all it has to offer, plan on at least two if not three full days of exploration.
After your museum visit it is time to explore the living west with a day visit to Yellowstone National Park, just an hour’s drive away. The best and most efficient use of time and treasure is to join a small tour with Y Loop Road Trips. ( Their expertise at explaining the geography and fauna of Yellowstone is only matched by their efficiency of driving you to the most important vistas. They are also freewheeling enough to stop and view the occasional road side theatre, where wild Yellowstone buffalo and bear or other wild life may appear. A one day tour may take you to the Yellowstone Falls, and the Old Faithful Lodge and geyser as well as stops at other venues including geysers and steaming mud pots. It is mind boggling to think that a one day driving tour traces the acres of the ancient volcanic caldera that created the Yellowstone thermal park. If your time is short and you’ve already recently seen Yellowstone, Y Loop offers other tours to picturesque and historic areas.
Cody Wyoming offers many lodging choices but I can’t see any of them better than the Chamberlin Inn around the corner in the middle of Cody’s downtown proper. ( This extensively renovated Inn, work completed in 2008, has Cody history in its walls. The cozy rooms are updated with modern amenities, yet keeping a nod to western cultural décor. Yes, there is a ghost story ~ what historic establishment doesn’t ~ but don’t let that entice or put you off, as my stay was so congenial a ghost was not needed. The Chamberlin offers its own western bar in the evenings, where the public is welcomed to enjoy the new garden room, where despite any weather you can enjoy the outdoors – so important to the Cody experience. The Chamberlin is a boutique hotel, where each of its 24 rooms are distinct and you are welcomed to linger in its library, parlour, sunroom and garden.
The Inn is within sight of the famous Buffalo Bill’s Irma Hotel, and a must for your dining experiences. During the peak tourist season, nightly gunfights occur near its verandah. Along with the Irma, feel free to enjoy dining western style at; Prime Cut (good steaks of course), Rib and Chop House (great fried green tomatoes), and just a little ways out of town, Cassies Supper Club, where you can enjoy music and dancing in this extensive road house, which has a salute to the women of the evening who were once employed under this roof, once operated by Cassie. Prime beef is each restaurants signature, but they also can offer other culinary combinations, such as cedar plank Salmon.
When dining around Cody you might ask for a glass of the local winery’s pride, Buffalo Jump Wine. ( The Winery located downtown offers wine tastings of its many varieties. The owners take great pride in their personal selection of the grapes they choose for bottling. It is their secret of making fine and distinctive wines.
It is ironic that Buffalo Bill Cody began his career killing buffalo and Indians, and ended life preserving buffalo and Indian culture. Preserving the culture and art of the West is the theme of the Buffalo Bill Center of the West Museum with it’s over 100,000 artifacts under 7 acres of roof, and is a reminder that everything is bigger in the West.
A toast: “Long live Cowboys. Long live the West. Long live Cody, Wyoming!”