From the dazzling lights of the Cody Nite Rodeo up to the snow-covered peaks surrounding Sylvan Pass down to the wildlife on the rolling hills of Hayden Valley, there is something for everyone on the road from Cody to Yellowstone National Park’s east entrance. Use this guide to discover the must-see spots on this often-overlooked section of the park.
Buffalo Bill Center of the West
Begin your trip in Cody at the Buffalo Bill Center of the West. Located on the road to Yellowstone, the Center will help you better understand the history, culture, and ecosystems in and around Yellowstone National Park. With five incredible museums for one admission price, this is a wonderful place to begin any Yellowstone adventure.
Cody Nite Rodeo
You cannot visit the Rodeo Capital of the World without going to Cody Nite Rodeo. Every night from June 1st to August 31st you can catch the bucking broncos and skilled bull riders of the longest running rodeo in the world. For more information or to buy tickets check out their website.
Buffalo Bill Dam & Visitor Center
Walk across this engineering marvel, which was the tallest dam in the world when completed in 1910. Rising 328 feet over the river below and spanning 200 feet across, it is truly an impressive site. Admission is free, and the views of the canyon are priceless.
East Entrance Road
The highest point on the drive takes you up 8,553 ft. (2.607m) through Sylvan pass. This is a great spot to encounter big horn sheep and to experience a lesser-seen ecosystem of Yellowstone. Stop at the pullout near Sylvan Lake for some magnificent scenery.
Lake Butte Overlook
After winding your way down from the pass, you will find yourself on the shore of Yellowstone Lake. At 7,733 feet, it is the largest high elevation lake in North America. Drive up to Lake Butte Overlook for a panoramic view of the surrounding area and you may even catch a glimpse of the Tetons. To better understand what is going on below the surface of this strange lake, be sure to check out our special exhibit: What Lies Beneath: Mysterious Vents of Yellowstone Lake.
Storm Point Trail
A few miles down the road from Lake Butte you can find the trailhead for Storm Point Trail at the Indian Pond pull out. This easy hike spans dense forests, beautiful mountain meadows, and Yellowstone Lake beaches in less than 2.5 miles. Before hiking in Yellowstone, make sure to brush up on bear safety.
Stop at the Fishing Bridge General Store after your hike for some delicious ice cream. Explore the visitor center close by to learn more about the ecology of Yellowstone National Park. The visitor center is also a national historic landmark renowned for its “parkitecture.”
After driving over Fishing Bridge, you will come to the Grand Loop Road. To get to Canyon Village, take a right at the intersection to head north.
Park Loop Road
Check out one of the most impressive geothermal basins in the park. Mud Volcano is home to numerous fumaroles and mud pots. While in the basin, do not miss the Dragon’s Mouth Spring where you can hear, feel, and smell the breath coming from the Dragon’s cave.
If you can be in Hayden Valley during the dawn or at dusk, you may see some of Yellowstone’s most famous residents. Wolves, grizzly bears, black bears, bison, and elk are commonly spotted in Hayden Valley. Use the overlooks and a pair of binoculars to try and find wildlife. Keep at least 100 yards from bears and wolves and 25 yards from all other animals.
South Rim Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone
Although both rims of the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone offer magnificent views, drive the south rim if you are short on time. South Rim Drive will take you to the highlights but try hiking the South Rim Trail if you are able. The short hike gives a few extra overlooks along the canyon’s edge. No matter which path you choose, do not miss Artist Point, which offers one of the best views in any national park.
North Rim Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone
Though some argue the South Rim has the better views, the North Rim also has much to offer. Feel the mist of massive falls at the upper and lower brinks. Take in all the colors of the canyon at Grand View and gain an understanding of where the park got its name at Inspiration Point.
Yellowstone is such an expanse of pure nature that it can be daunting to decide which way to go. Hopefully, this short guide makes planning your adventure around Yellowstone National Park a little easier.