52 miles E of the east entrance of Yellowstone; 177 miles NE of Jackson; 214 miles NW of Casper
The legendary scout and entertainer William F. "Buffalo Bill" Cody really knew how to put on a show, and he also knew where to put a town. Cody, founded by its namesake in 1887, is beautifully situated near the juncture of rivers that pour from the rugged Absaroka Range. Every summer, the town of Cody stages a cow-town circus that would do the founder proud, entertaining throngs of visitors on their way to and from Yellowstone 52 miles west. And the drive to the park is sublime: Theodore Roosevelt called the Wapiti Valley "the most scenic 50 miles in the world."
Stop by Cody before the mid-May opening of Yellowstone's east entrance, and it's rather lifeless. For 3 months every summer, though, the town parades its Western charm for masses of travelers. When the sun goes down, the lights come on at the rodeo grounds, and the broncos do a little busting of their own. A world-class museum, a reassembled Old West town, and retail shops all attract the crowds. Though lacking the resort density and sophistication of Jackson, Cody's Western charm feels more authentic.
The Mystery of Buffalo Bill's Grave -- Buffalo Bill's legend looms large over Cody, but some locals believe that it's more than his spirit looking down from the surrounding peaks. Rumor has it that Buffalo Bill is buried not atop Lookout Mountain in Golden, Colorado, but on Cedar Mountain, just outside of Cody. After the legendary showman's 1917 demise, the mayor of Denver and the Denver Post arranged to buy his body as the centerpiece to a tourist attraction. As the story goes, a trio of Cody residents took it upon themselves to see to it that Cody be laid to rest outside the town that bears his name. They swapped Buffalo Bill's body (which sat on ice for 6 months in Denver before the funeral) with that of an anonymous old cowboy who died in Cody without any kin. While there's more than one story floating around regarding the true whereabouts of Cody's grave, longtime Cody residents (and many of Buffalo Bill's descendants) swear that a nameless cowboy is buried on Lookout Mountain in Colorado and that William F. Cody's final resting place is where he wanted it -- in Cody, Wyoming.
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