Touring the Byway
3 Days / 2 Nights | Gateway City: Cody, Wyoming

We recommend starting your journey in Cody, a rugged mountain town in the heart of the American West. Hear the incredible stories of the town at the Cody Heritage Museum and Buffalo Bill Center of the West, learn about the pioneers who pursued Western expansion at the Historic Cody Mural and Museum, before spending the evening at Buffalo Bill’s Irma Hotel.  

On Day Two, drive the 46 thrilling miles on the Chief Joseph Scenic Byway. Twist and turn your way on WY-296 stopping at scenic overlooks, ultimately reaching an elevation over 8,000 feet at Dead Indian Pass, and defying gravity as you cross Wyoming’s highest bridge, Sunlight Creek Bridge. At the intersection of WY-296 and US 212, you’ll turn north on the Beartooth Highway, headed for Red Lodge.  

In Red Lodge you can explore the town on a historic walking tour, the Yellowstone Wildlife Sanctuary and the Carbon County Historical Society and Museum, before settling in at The Pollard, the most historic hotel in Montana.  

On Day Three, back in Cody, you can take your time exploring Old Trail Town and the downtown shopping district, before enjoying the Cody Nite Rodeo, the only nightly performing rodeo in the United States.  

From here, we wish you safe passage if you’re traveling another Wyoming Scenic Byway, or a safe and pleasant journey home. 

When you travel the Beartooth, be sure to remember that the high alpine climate can cause severe weather conditions any month of the year. Summer temperatures range from the 70s to below freezing during sudden snowstorms. Pack warm jackets, hats and boots if you plan to hike. The road is normally plowed by Memorial Day, but closures are common through June due to spring snowstorms.

View the Detailed Itinerary below to see the full route, which is complete with dining, shopping,  and lodging recommendations!

Highlighted Attractions

Buffalo Bill Center of the West

Often referred to as the “Smithsonian of the West,” the Buffalo Bill Center of the West weaves together stories of the Yellowstone region and the American West in five different museums. Immerse yourself in the geology and natural environment of the region at the Draper Natural History Museum. Get to know William F. Cody in the Buffalo Bill Museum. Experience the traditions, values and culture of regional Native Americans at the Plains Indian Museum and enjoy artists’ depictions of the West at the Whitney Western Art Museum.  The Cody Firearms Museum houses more than 4,000 firearms used in the American West.

Cody Historic Museum

Exhibits feature founders William F. “Buffalo Bill” Cody, George Beck, Nate Salsbury, H.M. Gerrans, George Bleistein and Bronson Rumsey, ranching and agricultural history, early Cody businesses, the oil, gas, and railroad industries and cowboy history. The Heritage Garden surrounding the historic De Maris House is a living exhibit of native plants, pollinator plants, wildflowers, grasses and a bronze sculpture which memorializes the original pioneers who built the town.

Chief Joseph Scenic Byway

This morning you’ll be off to drive the Chief Joseph Scenic Byway, which connects Cody with the Beartooth Highway, closely following the path taken by the Nez Perce as they fled the US Cavalry in 1877.  Several interpretive signs along the route tell more of the story. Along with learning the story of the route, you’ll be driving through Shoshone National Forest for most of the route, enjoying spectacular vistas, beautiful scenery and mountains at every twist and turn.  Distant views of the Beartooth Mountains are complemented with views of the Beartooth Plateau and the Clarks Fork of the Yellowstone River. Unlike the Beartooth, the Chief Joseph Scenic Byway is not a high-elevation drive.  It does cross Dead Indian Pass at 8,048 feet, but for the most part passes through a series of open valleys, surrounded with tall, forested mountains. Be sure to stop at the scenic pullout at Mile 1.2, Dead Indian Summit Overlook at Mile 13.3, and the Sunlight Bridge at Mile 23.

Yellowstone Wildlife Sanctuary

As bison and other animals in Yellowstone National Park age and need care, they are moved to the Yellowstone Wildlife Sanctuary, along with gray and red wolves, porcupines, owls, black bears and more. Take the 60-90 minute guided tour to learn more about the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, the species represented at the sanctuary, and how the animals arrive here.

Old Trail Town

Explore a rare collection of ghost-town relics, authentic buildings, and historic furnishing in this reconstructed frontier town where Cody started.  Original cabins used by outlaws Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid and a Wyoming saloon frequented by Cassidy’s “Hole-in-the-Wall Gang” were moved to the site, along with the cabin of “Curley,” a Crow scout who helped guided Custer and the U.S. 7th Cavalry to the Battle of Little Big Horn in 1876. Several pioneer graves on the property include mountain man John Johnson, portrayed by Robert Redford in “Jeremiah Johnson.”

To experience all that this Dramatic All American Road has to offer, download the complete itinerary!

The detailed itinerary includes: