(BPT) – With nearly 7,000 square miles of mountains, valleys and rivers – including a large swath of Yellowstone National Park – there’s plenty of room to roam in northwestern Wyoming’s Park County.
While widely shared photos of crowds clustered around Old Faithful Geyser and car-clogged roads might suggest otherwise, the reality is that there are many ways to enjoy the wonders of the region slowly and peacefully.
Known as Cody Yellowstone, Park County is a land of sparse human population – only four residents for every square mile – but wildlife like bison, elk, wolves, bears and raptors abounds. A chance to see the region’s free-roaming wildlife is just one of the many reasons millions of people travel to the region every year. They also come to see the park’s famous geothermal features and historic structures and to experience the region’s attractions like the Cody Nite Rodeo and Buffalo Bill Center of the West.
‘Some people approach a trip to Cody Yellowstone with checklists in hand, marking off activities like accomplishments rather than experiences,’ said Ryan Hauck, executive director of Cody Yellowstone, the marketing arm for the region. ‘With a land of wonders this vast, however, no visitor can see and do it all in a week-long vacation. By slowing down and savoring a few favorite adventures, they will leave here refreshed and with a renewed appreciation for one of our country’s remaining wild places.’
Combining the tenets of responsible travel, sustainability and human-powered experiences, slow travel is a focus on the journey, not just the destination.
Here are eight human-powered slow travel adventures in Cody Yellowstone:
- Fish. The region features an abundance of top-flight fishing spots including the North and South Forks of the Shoshone River and rivers and streams in Yellowstone National Park.
- Hike. There are more than 1,100 miles of mapped trails in Yellowstone as well as numerous trails in and around the town of Cody.
- Climb. The region is comprised of porous volcanic soil that allows for easy water seepage, and the mountains receive large amounts of snow that melts into a high number of drainages. These factors result in spring-fed waterfalls that are constantly regenerating themselves and freezing into high-quality ice climbs. In warmer weather there are plenty of opportunities for rock climbing.
- Watch wildlife. See a bison, bear, eagle, bighorn sheep, river otter, fox, coyote, elk or wolf in the wild. Spotting wildlife is free, and visitors typically don’t have to go far to see an array of species. Tip: Bring binoculars wherever you go and practice safe viewing by leaving plenty of distance from the animal.
- Ski. Sleeping Giant Ski Area, one of the oldest alpine ski areas in North America, is situated just outside of Yellowstone National Park in the stunning Absaroka Mountain Range. Its 900 vertical feet and 184 acres of skier and rider-accessible terrain features trails for skiers of every ability.
- Paddle. With rivers, streams, lakes and reservoirs, paddlers will find plenty of options for rafting, kayaking, stand-up paddle boarding and float fishing.
- Pedal. Mountain biking in Cody Yellowstone provides visitors with a chance to take in the scenery at their own pace while getting some exercise in the fresh Wyoming air. Riders won’t want to miss the new Beck Lake Mountain Bike Park and Trail System southeast of Cody.
- Ride. Equestrians have been drawn to rugged Cody Yellowstone since legendary horseback showman Buffalo Bill Cody founded the town. With numerous guest and dude ranches offering equestrian experiences for visitors of all levels, horseback riding remains one of the most popular authentic adventures in Cody Yellowstone.
For more slow-travel ideas, visit the Cody Yellowstone and Yellowstone National Park websites.