Enjoy an all-American vacation full of cultural experiences, mind-blowing natural wonders, and one-of-a-kind memories. This page has everything you need to plan your trip from start to finish. Use the guide below to get started, and check out some suggested trip ideas to get your mind racing.
CENTER OF THE WEST INFO
Dec. 1 – Feb. 28
10 a.m.-5 p.m.
Sept. 16 – Oct. 31
8 a.m.-5 p.m.
March 1 – April 30
10 a.m.-5 p.m.
Nov. 1 – Nov. 30
10 a.m.-5 p.m.
May 1 – Sept. 15
8 a.m.-6 p.m.
Closed New Year’s, Thanksgiving, & Christmas days
The Center of the West has a full cafeteria serving sandwiches, burgers, bison brats, salads, desserts, and more. We also have a full coffee bar that serves lattes and other espresso beverages.
We also host bi-weekly cowboy chuckwagon dinners in the evenings, subject to availability. Enjoy a cowboy cut of beef, beans, and cobbler, just like they made it out on the range.
Our entire campus is ADA wheelchair accessible including marked parking spaces, ramps, elevators, restroom stalls, and an ADA compliant Outdoor Play Area for children. The Center of the West offers both electric and manual wheelchairs on a first-come, first-served basis. Tours for visitors with special needs are available upon request by contacting the education department. There are a variety of audio, audio visual, and tactile opportunities throughout the galleries, most audio visual programs are open captioned.
The Center of the West can be enjoyed for two hours or two days! Our general admission tickets are good for two days, but the average casual visitor with kids could easily enjoy our museums over the course of a morning or afternoon. There’s certainly a lot to see across five museums, so if you can spare an entire day and you love museums, it would certainly be worth it!
For those who can’t spend that much time with us, we offer a variety of after-hours programs so you can get a wild west experience when it’s most convenient for you and your loved ones.
VIA DENVER I-25
DRIVE TIME: 8 HOURS
Those coming from the south or the east can easily link up with I-25 North via I-70 or I-80. Head north to Casper then take WY-26 to Shoshoni, WY-20 to Thermopolis (home to some amazing natural hot springs) and then WY-120 into Cody. This route is known for its wide-open spaces, interesting geology, and smooth driving.
VIA SALT LAKE CITY I-80
DRIVE TIME: 6.5 – 7 HOURS
This is an easygoing trip with a breathtaking mountain pass drive in the middle. Take I-80 east past Evanston to WY-189, make a stop in Farson at Farson Mercantile (home of the biggest ice cream cones you can imagine), head over South Pass to Riverton, take WY-26 to Shoshoni, then make your way to Cody via Thermopolis.
VIA RAPID CITY / I-90W
DRIVE TIME: 6 HOURS
I-90 is the main interstate corridor leading to Cody, especially for those travelling from the Mount Rushmore/Badlands/Black Hills area on their way to Yellowstone. Travelers can take I-90 West to Ranchester, WY then take Highway 14 through the Bighorn National Forest through Burgess Junction, Shell, Greybull, and into Cody.
VIA BUTTE / I-90E
DRIVE TIME: 6 HOURS
If you’re driving from the PNW to the Yellowstone area, you have a big decision to make outside of Butte, Montana: take I-15 down to West Yellowstone or continue on I-90 through Bozeman and into Cody. West Yellowstone looks closer to the Park, but what’s closer to the action?
Driving into the park from West Yellowstone is a double-edged sword. You get to be in the park sooner, but you must drive through dense forests for about 2.5 hours until you get the classic Yellowstone views and wildlife you’re looking for. It’s been a big regret for many a road-tripper.
Let us offer you two alternative routes that are twice as scenic:
1. Take I-90 through Bozeman (Montana’s good food capital with awesome mountain views) and Livingston to get to Columbus. Then take MT-78 to Red Lodge (a quaint mountain ski town with awesome breweries and restaurants), through Belfry, and into Cody via WY-120. This route is peppered with historical sites and roadside stops, and it’s a less-traveled road in the summer months.
2. Hop off I-90 at Livingston, Montana, and head toward the north entrance of Yellowstone and Gardiner, Montana. Once you’re in Mammoth, head east through Tower and the Lamar Valley (the best place to see wildlife in Yellowstone) and out the Northeast Gate. Cruise down the Beartooth Scenic Highway and Dead Indian Pass — two of the most acclaimed mountain drives in the U.S. — before you land in Cody.
VISIT CODY AFTER YELLOWSTONE
Drive time: 1.75 hrs from Canyon Village
Cody is easily accessible from the park via the East Gate. Buffalo Bill called the road from the East Gate to Cody “the most beautiful 53 miles in America” — and he wasn’t kidding. Expect one-of-a-kind mountain views, an easygoing downhill drive, and maybe a grizzly bear or two in this wildlife corridor.
Yellowstone Regional Airport (Cody, WY)
Jump right into the action and fly straight into Cody! It’s a laid-back airport with easy access to Cody’s hotels and amenities. Direct flights from Chicago, Denver, and Salt Lake City during the summer season.
Other solid options:
Billings Logan International Airport (Billings, MT)
An affordable airport with a 90-minute drive to Cody. Direct flights from numerous major cities with easy car rentals and other amenities.
Bozeman Yellowstone International Airport (Bozeman, MT)
The biggest and busiest airport in the area. 3 beautiful hours to Cody.
At minimum, two nights and one full day. We know, we know — you want to spend as much time as possible in Yellowstone. We get it. We’d recommend spending at least two nights with a full day in between in Cody as you travel to or from Yellowstone. You’ll be able to hit all the big attractions like our museums and the Cody Nite Rodeo, listen to some live cowboy music downtown, enjoy authentic western cuisine, hop on a Trolley tour, and enjoy some other one-of-a-kind cultural experiences for all ages.