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Powell is one of the larger communities in Wyoming’s sparsely populated northern region. It’s about half an hour's drive from Cody (the eastern gateway to Yellowstone National Park) and a 90-minute drive from Billings, Montana – the nearest large city. However, Powell is primarily known as the home of Northwest College.
Powell was founded as a ranching community back in the late 1800s, near the banks of the Shoshone River. Not long after, oil was discovered in the nearby Bonanza Field, leading to an influx of settlers seeking their fortune on the frontier. More recently, Powell, along with Cody, has served tourists heading into the less visited eastern entrance to Yellowstone Park.
Book an RV in Powell, and you can experience this off-the-beaten-path town in a state that sees few tourists outside the crowds of Yellowstone.
Getting an RV rental in Powell is a great way to experience Wyoming’s famed outdoor attraction, no matter the time of year you visit. During the summer, you can enjoy big rapids on the Shoshone River just a few miles outside of town. Kayaks and whitewater raft rentals and tours can be found in Cody. The most thrilling time of year for running rapids is right after the spring runoff in June.
Powell is also just outside the eastern entrance to Yellowstone National Park. While that puts you far away from some of the big-name attractions like Mammoth Hot Springs and Old Faithful, your travel trailer rental from Powell will be close to the eastern shore of Yellowstone Lake. One of the most unique experiences you can have in the park involves scuba diving down to the geothermal vents at the bottom of the lake (which is actually just a massive volcanic crater).
Those traveling in the winter with their camper rental from Powell won’t be disappointed either. There are good skiing opportunities, both Alpine and Nordic, for those willing to brave Wyoming’s cold weather. Sleeping Giant Ski Area is located in nearby Cody and even has zip lining and hiking available during the summer months.
One of the closest RV parks to visit when you get a motorhome rental in Powell is Lovell Camper Park near the town of Lovell. It doesn’t have any hookups, but it does offer bathrooms, showers, a dump station, and drinking water. It’s about halfway between Powell and Big Horn Canyon if you’re thinking about recreating there.
Horseshoe Bend Campground is right next to Big Hole Canyon and could be an excellent choice when you rent an RV in Powell. It’s also fairly rustic, though a few dozen of their sites have electrical hookups. Most campers come here for the jaw-dropping views of the Bighorn River snaking its way through 1,000-foot-high cliffs.
For a campground with a few more amenities, check out the Cody KOA Holiday, which offers full hookups, a swimming pool, a hot tub/sauna, a dog park, bicycle rentals, and a shuttle bus to the rodeos held throughout the summer months. The KOA also organizes ice cream socials and other events to bring campers together.
To learn about the state’s early history, check out the Homesteader Museum on the edge of town. The log cabin-themed facilities house a number of exhibits dedicated to the early pioneers who came to scratch out a living on Wyoming’s prairies in the mid-19th century. Hundreds of photos, tools, period dresses, and even an old caboose tell the story of the brave men and women who built this state.
If you’re not well-versed in World War II history and the internment camps set up for Americans of Japanese descent, then you’ll probably be surprised to find out that one of the largest camps was located in northern Wyoming. The Heart Mountain Relocation Center housed over 14,000 Japanese-Americans and became the third largest settlement in the state in 1943. Today, there’s little left of the camp, just a street grid, building foundations, and a few barracks, but the exhibits at the interpretive center stand in its place and are sure to give visitor’s pause to consider the decisions that were made in the 1940s and the lives impacted by them.
Head down to Cody, and you’ll have a wealth of interesting museums to choose from including the Cody Firearms Museum, Draper Natural History Museum, Whitney Western Art Museum, and Museum of the Plains Indian – all of which are housed in the Buffalo Bill Center of the West. You could easily spend several hours going through all the exhibits here as it’s one of the most comprehensive museum complexes in Wyoming, covering everything from flintlock rifles to the oil paintings of Joseph Henry Sharp (also the founder of the Taos artist’s community in New Mexico).