Heading into Cody, WY

We found a city park in the town of Columbus, MT, called Itch-Kep-Pe City Park and decided to call it home for a couple of days. This park is run on donations only, no hook-ups, a real bathroom (albeit rustic) with flush toilets, dumpster, and a central water faucet. The park is right on the Yellowstone River and is a popular boat launch area. The main drawback we found was the amount of yahoos barreling down the dirt roads in their “Bubba” trucks, stirring up dust. We were able to find a “site” open enough for our solar system to function at full force and obtain satellite reception for the “tube”. 

Our one big excursion from Itch-Kep-Pe Park was to drive the Beartooth Scenic Hwy. into Silver Gate at the northeast gate to Yellowstone N.P. It was a spectacular 220 mile round-trip drive up and over the Beartooth Pass Summit at 10,947 feet of elevation. We saw some beautiful mountain views, a little bit of snow, and some scenic water falls and lakes along the way. We pretty much got skunked on our main focus of attention – critter watch – with the exception of a small group of mountain goats grazing near the road. A midday stop at the Beartooth Cafe managed to get us fed and ready for the return trip home. I do say, they had some tasty Elk tacos. Some pics have captions, some speak for themselves…

We packed up and made it to our next stop, Cody WY. On the way we did our darndest to get hooked up with an RV campground with hook-ups, but wouldn’t you know it, nobody had space for us except for some dry-camping at the Buffalo Bill State Park. Since that park was a bit outside the town of Cody, we found the local Walmart instead. We had 2 days to kill before we could get a spot at one of the local RV parks. I will admit, we cheated just a tad, and stayed both days in the Walmart lot. This particular Walmart is an extremely popular RV-welcoming business. They have a sign posted directing RVers where dumps are located. They also have a water faucet in the “back 40” for RV use. It averaged about 20 rigs staying there both nights we stayed. We spoke with one employee about the length of stay for RV’s and he said despite the “1-day only” rule, many RV’s stay for “weeks”. Even though we “cheated”, we made it well worth Walmart’s while, going on a shopping binge both days there. To kill time while here, we took a drive up to the Buffalo Bill Dam & Reservoir. Just before we arrived we had to pass inside 3 tunnels into the mountains in an area popular for mountain climbing. At the dam we did a walk through of their visitor center. The dam is not wide, but very tall. It was completed in 1910 and at that time was the tallest concrete-arch style dam in the world, measuring in at 325’ tall.

After our Walmart stop, home became the Absaroka Bay RV Park in downtown Cody. That park is a tightly packed lot, but had FHU’s and was only $39/night. 

First up on our agenda was the scenic Southfork Drive along the south fork of the Shoshone River. It is about 84 miles round-trip and purports to offer frequent sightings of  bighorn sheep, pronghorn antelope, elk, and deer. In fact the Southfork Drive lays claim to one of the largest herds of bighorn sheep in America. Now, how could we pass that one up? Alas, we got skunked again, as far as bighorn sheep sightings go. But we did manage to see some deer, a couple of large herds of elk, some pronghorn antelope, and what Iooked to be a golden eagle. Great mountain/river views also reward the intrepid traveler who takes on this dead-end drive, part pavement and part dirt/gravel out to the end, including views of Carter Mountain and Castle Rock. Carter Mountain is a 30 mile stretch of various peaks and is touted as one of the largest in the Yellowstone system of mountains. Bonehead me, I was so mesmerized looking at all the mountains I failed to get a photo of the bulk of Carter Mountain. I am truly as sharp as a marble…

The City of Cody puts on concerts in the park during the season, so we packed up Woodrow Wilson and a couple of chairs and headed to the park for a gig put on by a local band named Beacon Hill. They were a kinda bluesy, rockabilly, country mix and drew a good crowd considering Cody also puts on a nightly rodeo at the fairgrounds which competes for an audience. We also would have done a very good job feeding the local mosquito population, except Jeanne found a lavender bedtime lotion for babies by Johnson & Johnson which we doused ourselves in and voila! No mosquito issues! It was better than reeking of deet…

What would a visit to Cody, WY be without a run through the Buffalo Bill Center of the West. The museum is divided into 5 basic sections that a couple of hours would normally be sufficient to cover. However, the section “Cody Firearms Museum” contains an extensive historical gun collection, with numerous pull out cabinets and drawers which you could probably spend one full day going through, especially all you gun nuts out there (you know who you are!). They also put on a short program about raptors where we got to learn about and see a couple of the “residents” of the museum, a golden eagle and an eastern screech owl. All of the “residents” of the museum are rehabilitated, previously injured (many hit by cars), but now unable to return to the wild due to their injuries. It was a nice program…

So Jeanne has to get kudos for digging up all these activities we do, she is a genius at social media apps. Our next outing was another scenic drive Jeanne found in a flyer “Buffalo Bill’s Cody/Yellowstone Country Scenic Drives”. The South Fork Drive previously described was found in this same flyer. This next one is called the “East Yellowstone Loop” and encompasses the northeast corner of the Yellowstone “figure 8” and Lamar Valley. Going out the gate at Silver Gate/Cooke City, it connects with the Chief Joseph Scenic Byway and heads back into Cody. In total, it runs to about a 224 mile loop trip. Even though the sun did not want to cooperate with us, we still got some spectacular views and got some critter watching in as well.

Cody considers itself the rodeo captial of the world, and during the tourist season they feature a nightly rodeo at the rodeo grounds. Off we went for a night of country music, clowns, and rodeo stock. Sorry, but I do not even rise to the level of amateur photographer, so my rodeo action shots are quite a bit less than average. We managed to stick it out for about 90 minutes-until a hellacious wind kicked up and we left under our own power before we would have left under wind power.

The ghost town of Kirwin is found about 62 miles south and outside of Cody in the Wood River Valley. It was a mining town (silver/gold) founded in the 1880’s until about 1907, when a massive avalanche gave some of the shacks new addresses and killed a few miners. Attempts to continue mining ran into the 1940’s, but now Kirwin is just a few buildings still standing with secrets yet to be told. A plus, we got to see a few critters on this trip, too. We topped it off with a stop in the megalopolis of Meeteetse, WY, for a cold one and some chow at the Elkhorn Bar & Grill. We both ordered, of all things, here in beef/elk/bison country, their hibachi fried rice. I had shrimp on mine and was amazed at the quality of the meal! I washed it down with a Jeremiah Johnson Scotch Ale (!) and I would highly recommend this place to anyone bold enough to drive all the way out here.

Well, tomorrow the jacks go up and it is onward and upward. Not sure where we will land, just “shut up and drive”. Until next post…

Yippee kayayyyy, the blog post is done!


About rvrrat520

Recreational wanderers just livin' the dream while we can still get vertical.
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