Sunday, March 20, 2011

Travel stories: Cody, cowboys and riding(our car) into the setting sun

The american cowboy. The very image of the old west. Windburned hardened men under a scorching desert sun. Fighting off hostile indians and bandits from the horseback with smoking guns while driving the herd onward. This hollywood cowboy image is far from the historical truth and the push west was in many ways a dark time in the american history. But for some reason whenever someone mentions the wild west I'm eight years old again, playing cowboys and indians with my dad. When i grew up he would show me all these old great westerns like the magnificent seven and we even visited the Ponderosa ranch where they shot Bonanza on a trip to the states as a kid. So when we heard of the rodeo in Cody I knew we had to go.

The small town of Cody sits high in the rocky mountains in the west of the state of Wyoming. Just east of Yellowstone national park the town got it's name from one William F Cody more known to the world as Buffalo Bill. The town of Cody only holds about 9000 citizens but my guess is that every night that number more than doubles up. Why is that? Because of the Buffalo Bill Cody Stampede Rodeo. Americas oldest rodeo was built in 1919 and every summer they hold rodeos every night. July 1st to 4th they put on their biggest event the Cody Stampede.

 Turns out we were lucky and happened to be in the area on July the 3rd. We were exploring Yellowstone for two nights and staying in West Yellowstone which wasn't ideal for visiting Cody since we had payed in advance for our motel and had to be back the same night. We were strongly advised not drive through the park during night but being so close we just had to go. So we drove up in the evening and ended up being an hour early for the rodeo. We took a pass through town and i tell you this is a really small town. Locals seemed friendly but a bit reserved. We grabbed a bite to eat and then headed to the rodeo. By know the parking lot was packed with cars and we hurried to grab our seats. The rodeo is beautifully located with the rocky mountains as a backdrop and you really feel the tides of history. The show was awesome. It was a bit more patriotic than we Swedes are used to. Patriotism in europe is often expressed in a way that borders to racism but in the U.S this is not the case. Americans in my experience have a strong feeling for their country and they love showing it. We had never attended a rodeo before buy you really don't need to know the rules to enjoy it. We had to cut it short to make drive back before it became too dark but it was so worth it. The drive back however was really scary. We only made it to the park entrance before it was pitch black outside. Driving through a national park in utter darkness with no street lights whatsoever was scary. You know that there are wild animals like buffalos and grizzly everywhere so we had to snail our way through the park. A drive that took us 1 hour on the way there took us 3 on the way back. If visiting the rodeo I would recommend staying in one of the many motels in Cody instead. But if your planning on going there on the Cody Stampede, make sure to book early!


  1. Oh wow, driving in pitch dark, never knowing what's coming up and never having any clue on what you'll pass by can really be scary. But of course it's really worth it in the end because you were able to attend one of the most wonderful rodeos in the country. And you were able to make it back safely, with your car unscratched.

  2. As you say it was totally worth it to see the Rodeo. I would however recommend anyone else who wants to visit the rodeo in Cody to stay in one of the many nice hotels and motels in Cody. Just make sure to book in advance!