Stinky Water River

Jason was on vacation most of the 10 days we spent in Cody, WY, after moving here from Ten Sleep, WY. We had decided to make this our western summer destination way back in March when the tickets for the Cody Stampede went on sale. The Stampede is held over 4 nights and has more than 800 competitors with single ride scoring progressing over the nights. The first night we were here it kicked off with Extreme Bull Riding and Bullfighting, a separate event, which was truly an amazing event that we hope to make it back to again. Pro Rodeo TV will be airing the Stampede nights from 7/3 and 7/4 on RFD-TV in August 2017.

We had not intended to make it all the way over to Yellowstone National Park, it was something that Barb concedes she did not fathom the magnitude of and thought it would just be “another state park” like atmosphere. Jason sprung the idea on her and we went into the park for the first time on the Thursday before the 4th of July holiday at the crack of dawn to avoid the tourists.

Old Faithful was not so faithful as it was about 15 minutes late, but we were there by 8:30AM and it fired off at about 9:30AM. Since Jason’s last visit, more than 30 years ago, there is now a new visitor center at the Old Faithful geyser site. Boardwalk and plenty of seating around the geyser for waiting. On the day we were there it was in the lower 50’s and there was a lot of steam hiding the actual geyser of water. There were plenty of various animal sightings along the road, even at one point our driver side mirror got smacked by a passing motor home that couldn’t quite fit between the idiots that parked only 3/4 of the way off the road on the shoulder and left 1/4 of their vehicle on each side on the road.

We continued on the grand tour stopping at some side roads and Jason hiked down to the stream in the Firehole valley. Barb enjoys the views and listening to the bubbling brooks, she sees other wildlife at the quiet of the truck while Jason stomps off on some trail.

We arrived at the lower falls observation area at about lunch time and waited the longest to get into the parking lot of any place. We enjoyed our picnic lunch here and then hiked the trails to the upper and lower observation areas.

At the upper and lower falls area, there is a large visitor center, general store and some other services. At this museum is a giant 3D relief map of the park that shows the various elevations throughout the multi-state national park land and features the “volcano” footprint below.

We continued to stop on our way around the loop to Cody through the Northeast gate. By going this direction we could check off another state visited, Montana.

There are plenty of beautiful areas in the various national forests around the national park. You can visit those for free, the national park has a per vehicle charge per day to enter the park. This is “free” with the National Parks Access Pass. We went up the Beartooth Highway from Cody to the national park entrance and that is just as beautiful as any Yellowstone area and its free! Jason also had the drone up here.

We did go back again a week later and experience Mammoth Springs area by reversing our route in at the Northeast gate and out the Southeast gate back to Cody. We were surprised by how busy the park was NOT for a holiday week. Barb was on the look for Big Horn sheep, but we only saw a total of three bears, three moose (mooses? meese?) and one caribou in addition to many mule and prong horn deer. No migraines caused by the sulfur pots in the park, but plenty of pressure change caused headaches as the weather rapidly changed and we changed altitudes up and down the mountains.

The area West and North of Cody is just breathtaking with the scenery changing with only a few minutes drive in either direction. The truck got pretty covered in dirt and mud as we explored away from the asphalt on many of the forest service roads in this area. UPS trucks in this area are also light trucks and not the normal cargo vans you see around the country. We found so many scenic vistas on our drives. Not too far off the beaten path we came across the “NO CARCASS DUMPING” sign and we just had to stop to get that photo. We paused to think about, exactly how many carcasses have to be dumped in a spot to get a sign erected? This sign was across the lake from the Buffalo Bill dam West of Cody.

The Buffalo Bill Dam is about four miles west of Cody and is an early 1900’s dam installed for water retention and then later hydroelectric production. It was the largest dam in the world before Hoover Dam was constructed a few decades later. The water released into Cody along the river was called the “Stinky Water River” back in the day and that is true. The water is infused with sulfur and when it comes out of the dam rushing the gas will release off.

Some days the smell of “sewer” from the sulfur in the river was pretty bad when the wind was passing over the river. But, we also had issues of our own with a sewer vent from the RV’s black-water tank to the roof. When they installed our second air conditioning unit we suspect their walking on the roof caused a joint in the vent to break open. Jason had to disassemble the wall in the bathroom to be able to get at the joint and try to stuff some caulk into it. Apparently he succeeded, as we have no longer have the miserable smells when flushing like we did since we have left Minnesota. Gases were venting into the “attic” space on each flush and then the A/C pulled air out of the attic because it was not properly sealed either. So that was part two of the project, tearing into the new air conditioner to finish their project of properly sealing the ducting.

Cody has three parades over the 4th of July, one kiddie parade, one for the Stampede and one for the community. We went to the community parade on the 4th itself. It was a great parade with six different bands, including from Lake City, MN! The parade had over 100 units and with diversity for tourists to enjoy as well as the local residents. There were politicians, local businesses but also some educational pieces like a pack mule train and the women dressed in period dresses over the years from the area. Like in River Falls, WI, the chairs started to appear staking out spots days in advance. There was also a large community event in the park with craft vendors and food trucks that was busy after the parade.

What did we like most in the Cody area? We were not aware of the Heart Mountain Japanese WWII relocation center, until our Cody KOA “tour guide” told us about it. This might be one of those tourism secrets not promoted well for a reason. We both knew of these relocation centers in WWII, but we did not know there was one located about 15 miles Northeast of Cody, WY. There is an excellent interpretive visitor center there and there are still some structures that remain on the original site. It causes you to stop and think about this era, the time period where the US was attacked and the reaction of the US public sentiment as a whole against those that were also US citizens. This museum took us about two hours to go through but you could probably spend another hour there easily.

We put on almost 1000 miles in the Cody area, traveling as far Northwest as the Mammoth Springs of Yellowstone and back up to the Big Horn Mountains to experience US Highway 14 and Alternate US Highway 14 passes. We came over the Big Horns on US highway 16 at the recommendation of the KOA staff.

The Highway 16 pass is slightly lower in elevation, but more importantly 16 is more gradual of a climb on the East and descent into the West side to Ten Sleep. We wondered “how bad” could US Highway 14 be since the KOA staff told us the would not take their car over that side. We drove up on the West side to the summit and back, so be fair we did not evaluate the East side of the slope. Highway 14 was beautiful and it was indeed a tighter road, with steeper grades and would be more of a challenge with an RV. It was a beautiful drive anyway and Jason got an opportunity to pop the drone up to capture some images of the Corbett irrigation dam near Heart Mountain.

On our last night it was so hot, the RV was hot and it was over 100 degrees outside so we decided to take in a show. We enjoyed a wide range of “cowboy” music spanning a century plus of time at the Dan Miller’s Cowboy Music Review which is in The Buffalo Bill Center of the West. An excellent, probably the best in Cody, meal was before the show.

What’s next? We make our way back across South Dakota to Madison, WI, where we will spend two weeks at a Thousand Trails park so Jason can attend several work meetings at Wisconsin’s capital city.

CampgroundPonderosa Campground
1815 8th Street
Cody, WY 82414
Phone: (307) 587-9203

Located on the East end of Cody, right turn out of the park to the rodeo grounds. When the rodeo is over there are dozen of police officers making the left turn to return to the campground very easy. There are three entrances off of the highway into the campground.
Nights Stayed11: June 27, 2018 - July 11, 2018
Parking SiteSite 54 W/E/S, concrete pad, OK spot, very tight looking out our back window we are not more than 3 feet from our next RV.
RestaurantsWe connected with Dave and Jo from the Deadwood Xscapers event at the Pat O'Hara Brewing Company which has wide range of burgers and Irish inspired dishes, the bangers and mash as well as the shepherds pie were both excellent. The fish and chips looked good, with potato wedges and coleslaw.

Twice we tried the Bubba's BBQ and did not have good meat and for that matter good service either.

Dan Miller’s Cowboy Music Review which is in The Buffalo Bill Center of the West. An excellent, probably the best in Cody, meal was before the show.

The Irma Hotel has a breakfast and lunch/dinner buffet, which is a good value for what is included. Plus you can immerse yourself in the history seeping from the walls, ceilings and "period" tiny bathrooms.

The food at the Cody Nite Rodeo grounds was also amazing, the Pork Nachos were to die for, multiple times.
Local NewsCody Enterprise Facebook
Cody Enterprise Website
Big Horn Radio Network
AttractionsHeart Mountain Relocation Camp (Japanese internment in WWII)
Buffalo Bill Dam
Cody Rodeo (several different types of events during 4th of July)
Yellowstone National Park
Big Horn Mountain Range
Shoshone National Forest

WELS ChurchesNone within 60 miles, streaming from River Falls on Sunday morning worked well
Remember for Next TimeWe never made it to the shoot out at 6PM each evening (except Sunday's) outside the Irma Hotel. You can purchase a reserved seat from the Trolley Tours ticket booth for $2 each and get a front row seat. We did not do the trolley tour because it seemed very pricey at almost $40 per person. We also did not do the Buffalo Bill museum since we got a sneak peak with the dinner show, but it did look like something that could be done on its own on a rainy or cloudy day where the numerous vistas would not be appreciated.

Use Highway 16 from Buffalo over to Ten Sleep. US Highway 14 would be OK in the summer, but if road is wet it could be difficult. DO NOT use Alternate US Highway 14 as that has a much stepper grade and many many turns.

Cody Stampede starts with the Extreme Bulls competition, which is a different event than the Stampede. The Cody Nitely rodeo program is different than those two as well. The Stampede is multi-night progression to a final on the 4th. Each rider rides only once to get placed, there is no bracketing. Cody Rodeo park has the Grand Stand on the south side and the Buzzard's Nest on the North side. The nest is closed during these events. Section C (lower numbered seats) have good views of the entire park, avoiding site lines with the columns at the 2nd and 3rd row. The top is out of the sun, on the 4th with the earlier start (5pm) the lower half will be in the sun at the end. The lower half will be in the sun at the start of the 7pm. HIgher up you don't have to deal with so many people coming and going with bottom load bleachers. The video board is at the end of the East end of the arena.

There are several parades during the 4th of July. The 1st is a kiddie parade, the second was the "Stampede" parade and the third (on the 4th) was the community parade. Very nice community parade. (2018)

Yankee Car Wash (one located on US 14 North end of town and one located just West of the campground) is a good car wash to manually wash the truck, with credit card operated self-operated stalls.
AT&T CoverageMarginal with boost, comes and goes. Horrible on the 4th of July. Working from this area would be impossible, the service was extremely slow.
Verizon CoverageMarginal with external antenna, comes and goes. Horrible on the 4th of July. Working from this area would be impossible, the service was extremely slow.
WiFi CoverageRV Park WiFi good when it works, decent speeds when ti works. In site 54. This would be only for Netflix use, there would be no way to use this for work purposes.
Anytime FitnessAlmost directly across the road from the park, just to the East about three blocks on the opposite of the road.
Mail ServicesCan receive packages at main address.