Located in northwestern Wyoming, Buffalo Bill State Park is steeped in the rich history of the Wild West. The park was named after Colonel William F. “Buffalo Bill” Cody, a famous Wild West showman, developer, and promoter, who spent 20 years guiding and sponsoring hunting parties in the area and founded the nearby town of Cody in 1896. While the rich Wild West lore of this Wyoming state park is enough to draw visitors, the park has plenty of other attractions to offer, making it a perfect addition to your growing RV adventure list.
The central feature of the park is Buffalo Bill Reservoir, an impoundment of the Shoshone River formed by the historic Buffalo Bill Dam, which stood as the highest dam in the world at 325 feet when it was completed in 1910. Today, visitors can enjoy boating and fishing on the reservoir’s 9,000 acres of water recreation, and hunting and off-roading on the surrounding 3,000 acres of park land. All throughout the park, visitors can soak in the stunning views of the surrounding mountains that dominate the scenery: Rattlesnake Mountain, Cedar Mountain, Logan Mountain, Sheep Mountain, and Carter Mountain can all be glimpsed from various points throughout the park.
Visitors to Buffalo Bill State Park can take advantage of the park’s two RV campgrounds, which offer nearly 100 RV and tent sites, many of which have both water and electric hookups. The park is open year-round, but certain features such as boat ramps, water systems, and the North Fork Campground close for the winter season.
Located near the town of Cody and less than two hours from Yellowstone National Park, Buffalo Bill State Park is both a worthwhile destination in its own right and a perfect basecamp for exploring the surrounding areas.
This Wyoming state park is located just off of US-14/Highway 20, so it fairly straightforward to reach in an RV or car. However, this part of Wyoming often experiences seasonal road closures and adverse winter conditions, so visitors should make sure to check the park website for updates on road conditions and closures before mapping their route to the park. Inside the park, the roads in both the North Shore and North Fork campgrounds are paved, as are the sites, but the roads leading to Sheep Mountain, South Shore, and Bartlett Lane are all gravel, so visitors should drive with the appropriate caution.
Outside of the park, visitors can find several restaurants, shops, gas stations, and grocery stores in the nearby town of Cody, which is also home to several interesting attractions. Buffalo Bill State Park is also near the main road from Cody to Yellowstone, so the park makes a great place to stop for visitors on their way to the national park.
Buffalo Bill State Park offers nearly 100 RV and tent sites spread across two campgrounds. North Fork Campground, located on the western tip of the reservoir, offers 60 RV and tent site. Of the 54 RV sites available, a handful offer water and electric hookups, while the rest offer just electric hookups. There are no sewer hookups, but visitors can make use of the dump station located near the entrance to the campground.
Visitors can also take advantage of the restrooms and shower house conveniently located within the campground. The campground features mostly pull-through sites, for easier access. Most of the campsites at North Fork Campground are first-come, first-serve, but about a dozen of them can be reserved online, so if visitors wish to secure a specific site they should plan accordingly. The North Fork Campground is closed in the off-season and open from May through September.
North Shore Campground, located on the northern shore of the reservoir, offers an additional 37 RV and tent sites at Buffalo Bill State Park. Of the 32 RV sites in the campground, seven offer water and electric hookups, while the rest offer just electric hookups. There are no sewer hookups in North Shore Campground, so visitors will have to make use of the dump station located near the entrance of the campground. The campground features a mix of pull-through and back-in sites. The campground also features restrooms and ADA accessible sites. Similar to the sites in North Fork Campground, some of these sites can be reserved ahead of time, while the rest are first-come, first-serve.
One of the most popular ways to enjoy Buffalo Bill State Park is through boating on the park’s reservoir. Boaters can make use of the multiple docks and ramps throughout the park: North Shore Dock and Ramp, South Shore Dock and Ramp, Bartlett Lane Dock and Ramp, and Gibbs Bridge Raft Take Out. Buffalo Bill Reservoir is very windy, so it is an especially great spot for windsurfing, and was even once rated one of the top 10 destinations in the country for the sport. The docks are brought in before the reservoir ices over, so visitors eager to explore the park’s central feature by boat should be sure to visit in the warmer months.
Visitors eager to explore this Wyoming state park in a different kind of way, more off the beaten path, will be happy to learn that off-road vehicles are allowed all throughout Buffalo Bill State Park. Visitors can gear up their ORVs and take them cruising through the entire park on provided roadways, but not below the high-water line, where no off-road travel is allowed. Visitors must just make sure that their ORVs have an ORV sticker or vehicle license plate in order to take them on the park’s public roadways.
With towering mountains, a refreshing reservoir, a massive dam, and a vibrant history, Buffalo Bill State park offers about 9,000 acres of water recreation and nearly 3,000 acres of park land for visitors to explore. With so much to explore, visitors eager to learn more about the history, natural features, wildlife, and cultural significance of this park should make sure to visit the Buffalo Bill Dam & Visitor Center, which features exhibits, interactive displays, and informational events on the park, dam, and surrounding area.
Buffalo Bill State Park is home to a wide range of plant and animal species, giving wildlife enthusiasts plenty to explore year-round. Visitors can look out for everything from deer and antelope, to elk and moose, to coyote and bear, to sheep and prairie dogs. Birdwatchers will be equally happy to hear that the park is also home to a diversity of birds and waterfowl, so they will have plenty to look out for during their visit. For more information on the diversity of wildlife within the park, visitors can stop by the park’s Visitor Center.
Anglers can enjoy great fishing year-round at Buffalo Bill State Park, from multiple spots throughout the park. Visitors can try their luck at catching Yellowstone cutthroat trout, lake trout, rainbow trout, perch and walleye in the reservoir from Sheep Mountain, South Shore, Gibbs Bridge, North Fork, North Shore Bay, Marquette, and Bartlett Lane. Visitors can obtain fishing licenses from the Game & Fish Department offices or from local selling agents, and all visitors should check with park rangers about daily creel limits.
Visitors interested in hunting in this part of Wyoming will be pleased to hear that hunting is available year-round in Buffalo Bill State Park. Hunting for coyote, antelope, elk, deer, birds, and more is available in many areas throughout the park, but visitors must be 400 yards from park facilities and campgrounds before discharging a firearm to hunt. Visitors are required to have the applicable licenses and pay a day-use fee in order to hunt on state park land, so be sure to check with park rangers before adding hunting to your visit.