21st Century Roughing It – This Ain’t (Necesarily) Your Father’s Camping
If your idea of camping is a hotel without room service, it’s time to rethink your options!
The roads between Cody Wyoming. and Yellowstone National Park are noted for their geologic beauty, wildlife watching and hitorical significance. They are also home to a high concentration of guest and dude ranches.
“Dude ranches and guest ranches have been an integral part of this area going back to when Buffalo Bill Cody himself built his hunting lodge – Pahaska Tepee – just outside the east gate of the park,” said Claudia Wade, executive director of the Park County Travel Council, the region’s marketing arm. “These ranches are easy to get to, but they offer privacy and a Western experience that has changed very little over the years.”
There are two ways to get from Cody to Yellowstone National Park, and many people will go in one gate and out the other. Following are the various guest ranches on those two routes.
The road between Cody Wyoming and the East Entrance of Yellowstone National Park is 52 miles long and runs along the north fork of the Shoshone River. U.S. highway 14-16-20 traverses the Wapiti Valley through the Shoshone National Forest. Once inside the forest, the highway is designated the Buffalo Bill Cody Scenic Byway. The Shoshone National Forest was the country’s first designated national forest and is home to the oldest ranger station as well. The Wapiti Valley is known for its wildlife – “wapiti” is an Indian word meaning white tail, or elk – with an abundance of deer, elk, pronghorn, bighorn sheep and more.
Along this road are 10 properties that make great bases for visiting Cody and Yellowstone National Park as well as destinations for enjoying fishing, horseback riding and simply getting away from the general public. Here are the 10 lodges with links and phone numbers.
Absaroka Mountain Lodge is located 39 miles west of Cody and 12 miles from Yellowstone. This ranch features 15 cabins accommodating between two and eight people. 1-307-587-3963.
Bill Cody Ranch was once operated by Buffalo Bill’s grandson and is a full-service horseback riding resort. It is located halfway between Cody and Yellowstone. 1-307-587-2097. I’ve spen time here. The horseback rides taky through some spectacular canyons.
Blackwater Creek Ranch, built in 1915, is 15 miles from Yellowstone. The ranch offers 15 cabins and ranch-style meals. 1-307-587-5201.
Crossed Sabres Ranch is located eight miles from Yellowstone and offers all-inclusive three- and six-day packages. 1-307-587-3750.
Elephant Head Lodge is 12 miles from Yellowstone and offers plenty of family-friendly activities. Pets are welcome. 1-307-587-3980.
Creekside Lodge is 10 minutes from the park. The lodge offers private Western cabins, guided fishing trips, horseback rides and chuckwagon dinners. 1-307-587-9795.
Pahaska Tepee is the location of Buffalo Bill’s original hunting lodge two miles from Yellowstone. Listed on the National Historic Register, Pahaska Tepee offers cabins, rooms, restaurant, gift shop and gas as well as horseback rides, fishing and hiking. 1-307-527-7701.
Rimrock Ranch is 26 miles from Yellowstone. The ranch offers modern cabins, outdoor pool and hot tub. Activities include trail rides, fishing, cookouts and float trips. 1-307-587-3970.
Shoshone Lodge & Guest Ranch is five miles from Yellowstone. It features authentic Western cabins in the woods, trail rides, pack trips and relaxation. 1-307-587-4044.
UXU Ranch in the Shoshone National Forest offers horseback riding, fly fishing, side trips to Yellowstone and Cody, hiking, cookouts and more. 1-307-587-2143.
Cody to Northeast Yellowstone Entrance
The Chief Joseph Scenic Byway, from Cody to the northeast entrance to Yellowstone National Park, offers incredible views at the top of Dead Indian Hill including Sunlight Basin, the North Absaroka Wilderness, the Clarks Fork Canyon and the Beartooth Plateau. Together, these areas present a panorama of soaring heights, plunging canyons, vistas and valleys.
There are three guest ranches waiting to host vacationers.
7D Ranch offers 10 rustic cabins tucked into the Sunlight Basin an hour from Yellowstone. The ranch offers riding, fishing, hiking and children’s programs. 1-307-587-9885.
Hunter Peak Ranch is located 30 minutes from Yellowstone. Based around an early-1900s lodge, the ranch offers Western accommodations, riding, hiking, swimming/tubing and photography. 1-307-587-3711.
KBarZ Guest Ranch & Outfitters accommodates up to 30 guests in private cabins in a pine forest. Activities include riding, pack trips, fishing, side trips and gduided hunting. 1-307-587-4410.
The Park County Travel Council website lists information about vacation packages, special events, guide services, weather and more. Travelers wishing to arrange vacation can also call the Park County Travel Council at 1-800-393-2639.
Photographs courtesy of the properties.