The Great American Road Trip — Rapid City to Cody

So, when we were planning our road trip to Yellowstone, I somehow got the bright idea to spend a few nights in Cody, Wyoming. Stupid, stupid girl. There isn’t actually much to do in Cody itself — at least nothing we wanted to do (the Buffalo Bill museum is supposed to be good but the whole point of this trip was to be in the relative safety of the great outdoors). I planned a stop in Cody for two reasons, both of which were complete busts. First, I had heard that the Buffalo Bill museum did bear watching tours. Wrong-o. Maybe they did one time, but not anymore. And, I wanted to see the wild horses that live on BLM land outside Cody. Sounds really cool, right? Well, the tour I contacted had no covid protections in place. None. We weren’t about to get in a bus with a bunch of other people who may or may not have been vaccinated, who may or may not have been feeling a little sick that day, and who were most definitely not going to be wearing masks. Of course, that said, the stupid hotel we booked in Cody catered to old people on bus tours who refused to wear masks so we probably should have just gone ahead and taken the wild horse tour. What is a little more potential exposure, right? And, we wanted to go see the rock paintings at Pictograph Cave State Park. But, they were underwhelming, to say the least. Faded and pretty much impossible to make out. Bottom line, staying in Cody was a really bad idea.

Three mountain goats in Spearfish Canyon.

That said, we made the best of it. For starters, the drive to Cody was really pretty. We started by heading to Deadwood to see the graves of Wild Bill and Calamity Jane. Who drives out of their way to see graves? Well, we do. Unfortunately, when we arrived, the graveyard was not yet open for the day. Deadwood itself looked like it could be a blast so long as you embraced the overly-touristy nature of the town. Maybe sometime after covid….

A close-up of one of the mountain goats in Spearfish Canyon.

Then, as we were driving down the interstate, we saw signs for the Spearfish Canyon scenic byway. Why not, we thought? Well, one reason why not is that the road went back toward Rapid City. Oh well, it was a beautiful drive even if it added an hour onto our trip.

Devil’s Tower.

After Spearfish Canyon, we headed towards Devil’s Tower. We had been warned that it wasn’t worth going out of our way, but we actually really enjoyed it. We took a long way through the Montana countryside and really enjoyed the ride — the geology changed significantly as we drove and it was pretty cool to see the changes. But, a piece of advice — the photos of Devil’s Tower are far better from far away. Good thing, because the park itself was just a cluster — too many people, too many cars, not nearly enough parking — so much so that we didn’t even stop at the top and just turned around and went back.

A random lake on our drive through Montana.

After Devil’s Canyon, we asked Google Maps for the fastest way to get from there to Cody. Bad, bad idea. The scenery was beautiful, but Google Maps took us through steep mountain passes and down dirt roads. Our poor little car….

Montana mountains.

And, the Beartooth Highway is fairly close to Cody and totally worth driving. The Beartooth Highway is a winding, 68 mile highway that gains 5000 feet in elevation and is (at least according to something we read) the highest road in both Montana and Wyoming. One a clear day, the views are stunning. Even on the hazy day we drove it, it was still amazing. It is usually only open from mid-May to mid-October — the snow makes it impassable the rest of the year.

A scene from Beartooth Highway.

In spite of the pretty drives, we won’t be back to Cody.

About theschneiduks

Lisa has a degree in biology and another in law and has spent the last 20 years working as a patent litigator. She is a voracious reader of young adult dystopian fiction and watches far too much bad tv. She loves pretty much anything to do with zombies, and doesn’t think there is anything weird about setting an alarm at 6 am on a weekend to stumble to a pub to watch her beloved Chelsea boys. Robert has had many professions, including a chef, a salesman, an IT guy and most recently, a stay at home dog dad. He speaks Italian and hopes to learn Spanish on this trip. He loves nothing more than a day spent sailing, hopes to do more scuba diving, and rues the day he introduced Lisa to football (i.e., soccer).
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