Discover Northwest Wyoming: Fishing, Touring and Exploring

The jagged silhouettes of mountains meet vast, undulating plains in Northwest Wyoming. Known best for Yellowstone National Park, where bubbling hot springs and geysers accompany grizzly bears and bison, the wildness continues just east of the park in the historic town of Cody, where the Wild West thrives.  

If you’re planning a trip to the area or the park, Cody offers so much to explore. A short drive northeast brings you to Powell, an agricultural community offering a peaceful retreat from the tourist crowds. Just a bit further north lies the Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area, with fishing, boating, hiking, and wild horses.

Whether you have a week or just a couple of days, there’s plenty to explore. Here are some highlights from our recent trip:

Exploring Cody — The Heart of the Wild West

The spirit of the Old West lives on in Cody, founded by the legendary Buffalo Bill Cody. The town offers a blend of history and natural beauty, with historic buildings, local shops, art galleries, and restaurants. In the summer, rodeos, live music, and cultural festivals add to the fun.

Our favorite attraction was the Buffalo Bill Center of the West. The museum rivals those in big cities—without the crowds. It’s worth a couple days, or as much time as you can dedicate to it. 

The Center of the West comprises five distinct museums, each offering unique perspectives on the American frontier. The Whitney Western Art Museum showcases an impressive collection of western art that spans the 19th century to contemporary works, while the Cody Firearms Museum boasts one of the most comprehensive collections of firearms in the world. The Draper Natural History Museum brings the ecosystems and wildlife of the Greater Yellowstone region to life, while emphasizing the importance of conservation. 

The Plains Indian Museum offers a journey into the history, culture, and traditions of Native American tribes of the Great Plains, honoring their ancestral lands and providing an understanding of their way of life and their enduring cultural heritage. The museum also celebrates the life and times of Buffalo Bill Cody, with artifacts from his Wild West shows, personal belongings, and displays that paint a vivid picture of this larger-than-life figure. 

Cody also offers countless fishing opportunities. The Shoshone River flows through town, and numerous lakes with healthy-sized trout are a short drive away. We headed to North Fork Anglers and met our guide for a day at Newton Lakes.

Discover Northwest Wyoming: Fishing, Touring and Exploring

Just five miles outside Cody, Newton Lakes are local gems for anglers known for their clear waters and abundant fish. The West lake is managed as a family fishery for Yellowstone Cutthroat trout and several warm water species including bluegill and crappie, while the East lake is managed as a trophy fishery for Eagle Lake Rainbow and brown trout. With our fly rods rigged up and our sights set on some healthy rainbows, we focused on the East lake. During the day, our guide rowed us to different parts of the lake to target fish in different areas. The fishing is not always nonstop action, but the fish make up for the slower parts of the day. 

Discover Northwest Wyoming: Fishing, Touring and Exploring

As the day progressed and the sun climbed higher in the sky, it began to warm up, signaling the perfect conditions for an evening hatch. With some conviction that the fish would be rising later that evening, we headed back into town for a quick snack and to shoot some guns, with the plan to return later that evening. 

It took us a mere 10 minutes to get back downtown, where we got to experience history hands-on at the Cody Firearms Experience. Shooting real firearms from the Wild West felt like stepping into the past, but with professional instruction in an indoor range. The combination of good food and a little target practice made for an enjoyable interlude, but our thoughts kept drifting back to the lake and the promise of a productive evening on the water.

Discover Northwest Wyoming: Fishing, Touring and Exploring

Another 10 minutes in the car and we were back at Newton just as some bugs started hatching and fish started rising all around us. Newton Lake is a small enough lake to be perfect for beginner anglers, while having healthy-sized trout to satisfy anglers who are just looking for some quality fish without having to drive very far. We caught a few more nice rainbows, before driving back in town and stopping in Cassie’s Supper Club for one of the best cooked steaks we’ve ever had. The restaurant was next door to our stay at The Cody Hotel, where we looked at the stars from the balcony. 

Powell — Farming, Tea, Alpacas, and Barley-to-beer Tasting

A short drive northeast brought us to the agricultural community of Powell, where farmlands irrigated by the Shoshone River stretch as far as the eye can see. Powell welcomed us with an agricultural tour organized by the Powell Chamber of Commerce, a highlight of our trip. 

Discover Northwest Wyoming: Fishing, Touring and Exploring

Our first stop was Enchantment Creek Apothecary, where we enjoyed tea with an herbalist and learned about mountain plants and regenerative farming. From there, we visited Cad’s Farm, a sustainable beef farm focusing on grass-fed, grass-finished beef. We left with a few steaks that were later cooked over the campfire and the knowledge that we could find more at the local farmer’s market. 

Discover Northwest Wyoming: Fishing, Touring and Exploring

We then headed to Arrowhead, a farm-to-fiber alpaca farm. Feeding the alpacas and seeing how their fiber is transformed into cozy products was such a unique and fun experience. The tour concluded with a barley-to-beer tasting at WYOld West Brewing Company and a stop for honey caramels at Queen Bee Gardens.

Lovell — Vineyards, Wild Horses, and the Bighorn Canyon

With caramels in hand, we headed to Mustang Mountain Vineyard, where we tasted wines made onsite at the family-owned vineyard. The property offered stunning views of the Big Horn Mountains and delicious wines, particularly their limited stock of rosé, a smooth sweet almost dessert-like wine that we were rightly told was a favorite for even those who don’t like rosé. 

That evening, we visited the Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area. The entrance was just outside Lovell, and we watched the sunset against the canyon walls and turquoise waters of Bighorn Lake. Being so close to such a huge recreation area was amazing—it only took us about 15 minutes to go from feeling like we were in the middle of nowhere to being cozy in our hotel.

Discover Northwest Wyoming: Fishing, Touring and Exploring

Our final day began with breakfast at Mustang Café & BBQ, a Lovell local favorite with delicious French toast and even better coffee. We then visited the Pryor Mountain Wild Horse Center, where we learned about the Pryor Mountain Wild Horses and where you can spot different herds. The center offers a wealth of information about the horses’ lineage, their current population, and the threats they face. The staff were incredibly knowledgeable about the horses and it was fascinating to learn more about their lineage. 

Staff at the center marked a map for us with the best spots to see the different herds in their natural environment, however, the horses are always moving through a landscape of rugged terrain, so you’re not guaranteed to see them. This herd is unique due to its Colonial Spanish American heritage. These resilient horses originated from the horses of Portugal and Spain and have inhabited this rugged mountain area for nearly 200 years. If lost, this herd cannot be replaced; therefore, preserving its biological viability and historical significance is crucial.

Discover Northwest Wyoming: Fishing, Touring and Exploring

After visiting the Wild Horse Center, we drove a little further to the Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area for a morning hike. We chose Sykes Mountain Trail for the views. The trail is 4.6 miles, with a moderate to challenging rating, and traverses up a rugged trail to an overlook of Bighorn Canyon and Horseshoe Bend. The hike was beautiful, but could have easily been more challenging in the direct sunlight on a hot summer day. It’s best-suited for more experienced hikers, or those comfortable navigating off-trail, as you lose the trail several times and need to follow trail markers. The views at the end are well-worth it. 

After hiking, we drove through the National Recreation Area to look for the horses. We didn’t get to see any that day (early mornings and late afternoons tend to be better times) but armed with the new knowledge, we can’t wait to seek out the horses the next time we’re in the area. 

Your Next Adventure Awaits in Northwest Wyoming

Whether you’re on a road trip to the Bighorns to the east, Yellowstone to the west, or the stunning landscapes to the south, Cody, Powell and Lovell are the perfect stop with their rich history, breathtaking scenery, and endless opportunities for outdoor recreation.

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