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Unique Roadtrip USA: The Wild West of Wyoming | Part 2

This second part of the roadtrip by Wyoming is as surprising as the first† I start in the world capital of rodeo: Cody. Cody is also one of the access roads to the oldest national park in the world: Yellowstone National Park. Street Grand Teton the journey continues through abandoned gold mining towns and beautiful nature reserves to the smallest city in the world: Buford.

Also read: Unique Roadtrip USA: The Wild West of Wyoming | Part 1

The Itinerary: Wyoming's Wild West Part 2

Roadtrip Wyoming part 2 from Cody to Cheyenne
Roadtrip Wyoming part 2 from Cody to Cheyenne

Wyoming is the most sparsely populated state in the United States with a population of barely half a million. And that while Wyoming is number 10 in size. So there is a lot of space (Wyoming is almost 6 times The Netherlands).

1. Cody

The second part of the roadtrip by Wyoming begins in the rodeo capital of the world: Cody. The town was founded in 1896 by and named after Colonel William Frederick Cody. Cody was the real name of the man we know better as Buffalo Bill.

Who was Buffalo Bill again?

Colonel Cody got his nickname Buffalo Bill right after the American Civil War. Then he signed an agreement to supply the workers on the Kansas Pacific Railroad with buffalo meat. Cody reportedly shot down 18 bison in 4.282 months. The exclusive right to bear the name Buffalo Bill was forfeited in a duel. Cody and another bison hunter had to kill as many bison as possible in eight hours. Cody won by killing 68 bison, earning the nickname Buffalo Bill.

As showman Buffalo Bill, Cody became a multimillionaire and attracted an audience of millions with his Wild West shows.

Buffalo Bill Statue in Cody, Wyoming
Buffalo Bill Statue in Cody, Wyoming

Buffalo Bill Center of the West

It is an absolute must Buffalo Bill Center of the West in Cody. Five museums are located here, including of course the Buffalo Bill Museum. For example, did you know that Buffalo Bill has toured no less than 8 times with his Wild West Europe has made? Numerous celebrities, such as the Prince of Monaco, the King of Engeland, the Pope and many others came to see his Wild West Show.

Buffalo Bill Wild West Show in London 1887
Buffalo Bill Wild West Show in London 1887

Rodeo Capital of the World

Cody has labeled himself Rodeo capital of the world† The Cody Stampede Rodeo has been held here for over a hundred years. Throughout the summer, every night in Stampede Park, you can enjoy a genuine rodeo.

Promotional film Cody, Wyoming: Rodeo Capital of the World

Buffalo Bill State Park

Another absolute must is a visit to the Buffalo Bill State Park† This park is located just outside of Cody on the way to the east entrance to Yellowstone National Park.

Buffalo Bill State Park near Cody, Wyoming
Buffalo Bill State Park near Cody, Wyoming
Wyoming is Beef Country
Wyoming is Beef Country

2. Heart Mountain Relocation Center

After the attack on Pearl Harbor in December 1941, America decided to take measures against Americans of Japanese descent. The lion's share of the Japanese migrants, some 112.000, lived on the West Coast. They were transferred to concentration camps from February 1942. In total there were ten camps in mostly isolated places.

The desolate environment of Heart Mountain
The desolate environment of Heart Mountain

One of the largest camps opened in February 1942 40 km from Cody. A total of just over 10.000 Japanese emigrants would spend the rest of the war at Heart Mountain Relocation Center.

It was a desolate place, but the Japanese managed to make something of it. They even got into a fight with local farmers, who saw with sadness how the industrious Japanese managed to grow many vegetables.

In 2010, a group of former Japanese camp inmates returned to Heart Mountain
In 2010, a group of former Japanese camp inmates returned to Heart Mountain

In 2011, on the site of the camp, the Heart Mountain Interpretive Center her doors. Two years later I visit the informative museum. For example, I learn that in 1943 the American president still institutes conscription for male camp inmates. Some 300 Japanese migrants refused to do so (including 85 from Heart Mountain) and were sentenced to prison terms.

Nevertheless, 750 camp inmates decided to enlist. Many of these Japanese were decorated for their exploits in the service of the United States military.

Memorial Stone Heart Mountain
Memorial Stone Heart Mountain

During the tour I ask the guide about the German and Italian migrants in America. Germany and Italy had also declared war on America. "There were far too many of those," she replied. “General Eisenhower was himself a German migrant. His ancestors emigrated to America in the 18th century.'

From Heart Mountain, you can reach the Northeast entrance to Yellowstone National Park via the beautiful Chief Joseph Scenic Byway.

Chief Joseph Scenic Highway
Chief Joseph Scenic Highway
Chief Joseph Scenic Highway
Chief Joseph Scenic Highway

A small warning is in order here. Part of the route is 'open range'. For those who don't know what that means: There are no fences here, so cows and other livestock can just cross the road. You have been warned!

Warning for stray cattle (open range)
Warning for stray cattle (open range)

3. Yellowstone National Park

The oldest national park in the world, in my opinion, needs little text and explanation. Almost everyone has heard of it. But that Yellowstone is mostly in the state of Wyoming (and a small part in Idaho and Montana)? That is often unknown.

A moose in front of Yellowstone
A moose in front of Yellowstone

The park is incredibly popular and receives almost four million visitors a year. Incidentally, many of them (especially the American visitors) are interested in the geysers, of which Old Faithful is the most famous. The crowds around the geysers can be very large, especially during the holiday period and during public holidays.

Lake Yellowstone
Lake Yellowstone

For the official website of Yellowstone National Park click here.

4. Grand Teton National Park

Grand Teton National Park is just 16 miles south of Yellowstone. The park is named after the mountain range that you can see anywhere on the horizon (or closer) as you drive into the park.

Meandering Snake in Grand Teton National Park
Meandering Snake in Grand Teton National Park
Grand Teton Range
Grand Teton Range

5. Wind River Valley

From Grand Teton National Park you can take a beautiful route that leads via the village of Dubois through the Wind River Valley and the Indian reservation of the same name. Make a stop in Dubois anyway or spend the night there. There are many fun attractions in and around Dubois. For example, the largest population of Bighorn sheep can be found in the mountains surrounding Dubois.

Welcome to Dubois
Welcome to Dubois

The Wind River Valley is a popular tourist destination. You can enjoy great hiking and many other activities. For more information click here for the Wind River Country site.

Wind River Valley near Dubois
Wind River Valley near Dubois

6. Atlantic City and South Pass City

Of course, Wyoming has a number of former gold prospecting towns, which are now virtually extinct. Two of them are close together in Wind River Country. For starters, there's South Pass City. According to the welcome sign, this town is home to about five people, four dogs and two cats.

Welcome to South Pass 'City'
Welcome to South Pass 'City'

The history of South Pass City is a striking example of a ghost town that once prospered because of the gold rush. South Pass City was originally a telegraph station along the Oregon Trail. It also served as a refuge for miners in the nearby Rocky Mountains. They came to the town in the long and harsh winters. The town had its heyday during the Gold Rush of 1867.

South Pass City 1869
South Pass City 1869

South Pass City is a typical western village with a Main Street where the 'usual suspects' face each other: bank, saloon, school, church, post office, sheriff's office and prison and a few shops. Click here for more information about South Pass City. Today South Pass City is a tourist attraction with a beautifully restored center.

The center of South Pass City
The center of South Pass City
The Masonic Lodge in South Pass City
The Masonic Lodge in South Pass City

Near South Pass City is Atlantic City. Atlantic City served as a mining camp during the gold rush.

Atlantic City, Wyoming
Atlantic City, Wyoming

7. Laramie and surroundings

There are quite a few natural parks in the vicinity of Laramie. The extensive Medicine Bow/Routt National Forest extends far into Colorado with several mountain peaks reaching an altitude of more than 4.000 meters. There are many hiking and mountain biking trails in the area.

Mirror Lake in Medicine Bow National Forest near Centennial
Mirror Lake in Medicine Bow National Forest near Centennial

Just south of Laramie is Curt Gowdy State Park (formerly known as Granite State Park). The park is characterized by jagged rock formations.

View from a rock outcrop in Curt Gowdy State Park, Wyoming
View from a rock outcrop in Curt Gowdy State Park, Wyoming

8. Buford, Wyoming

Where can you get such a beautiful roadtrip finish better in the Wild West than in the smallest city in the world? I visited Buford for the first time in 2011. It was my first stop from the Rockies in Colorado. When the car door was opened, it slammed shut again. "Is it always like this here?" I asked owner Don Sammons. 'Blowing. Now. It's actually very quiet. Come in winter, then the wind will blow.'

Buford, Wyoming
Buford, Wyoming

Don went on to say that he is everything in Buford. From mayor, owner of the trading post and sheriff to gas station attendant. 'I am the only resident of Buford. My wife passed away in 1995 and my son left in 2008.'

Two years later I'm back. I then read on the internet that Buford was sold to a Vietnamese in 2012. In 2013, the new owner from Vietnam is nowhere to be seen. The windows of the trading post are boarded up. The information on the green board is no longer correct and should be: BUFORD 0.

An abandoned Buford Trading Post in 2013
An abandoned Buford Trading Post in 2013

End.

Eric on a scooter in Uganda

Eric

What is it like to drive more than 10.000 kilometers in Madagascar on a locally bought scooter? Or on a pikipiki (scooter in Swahili) through East Africa? In more than 20 years I have visited more than 100 countries. This has resulted in a lot of priceless travel experiences, which I would like to share with you.

ERIC – OVER 100 COUNTRIES
– Currently in Kenya.
– Share unique travel experiences.
– Favorite destinations: Madagascar, Uganda, Japan, India and Colombia.

Seen a mistake? Ask? Remark? Let us know in the comments!

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Eric on a scooter in Uganda

Eric

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