The small town of Cody, Wyo., near the eastern entrance to Yellowstone National Park, is home to a remarkable Western history museum, the Buffalo Bill Historical Center, named in honor of the town’s namesake, William F. “Buffalo Bill” Cody. Affiliated with the Smithsonian Institution, the center houses five distinct museums.
The Plains Indian museum chronicles the lives and culture of the Native Americans who lived between the Mississippi River and the Rocky Mountains. In the Buffalo Bill Museum, learn about William Cody, who led a life any Western history buff would envy, from cowboy to gun fighter to Pony Express rider to showman, his most famous role. Art enthusiasts will enjoy the Whitney Gallery of Western Art, which has a collection ranging from the early frontier artists (Charles Russell, Frederic Remington and Thomas Moran) to contemporary painters and sculptors. Or explore the Yellowstone Natural History section covering plant, animal and geological topics. I learned that what I thought were antelope are really pronghorns. In the Cody Firearms Museum visitors will find a comprehensive collection of early American weapons, with nearly every significant arms manufacturer in the world represented.
Tickets are $18 and are valid for two days. You’ll need both to begin your exploration of this complex. The Ponderosa Campground with full hookups is within walking distance of the Center. For more information, call 307-587-4771 or visit www.bbhc.org. — David Barber