The Buffalo Bill Dam, while not a full day experience, is quite the unique and interesting one. Guests proclaim it is well worth the side trip to see the history and the beauty of one of the oldest and most historic dams in the country! Built in 1910 in Cody, Wyoming on the Shoshone River to help irrigate the Bighorn Basin and originally called the Shoshone Dam, the name was changed to Buffalo Bill Dam in 1946 to honor the founder of the town and the owner of the land the dam was located on.
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It was at one time the tallest dam in the world. The dam has been listed on the Register of Historical Places on the national level, was documented specifically by the Bureau of Reclamation, and has also been included on a national engineering survey by the National Parks Service for historic American sites.
Permanent Attractions and Exhibits
The dam and visitor center offer free admission daily during their open season (which runs from May through September). The open hours vary: Mondays through Fridays in May and September from 8:00am to 6:00pm and Saturdays and Sundays from 9:00am to 5:00pm and Mondays through Fridays in June, July, and August from 8:00am to 7:00pm and Saturdays and Sundays from 9:00am to 5:00pm.
As the parking area can be quite a walk from the actual dam and visitor center, the center offers golf cart rides free of charge. Keep an eye out for them, as they run regularly and can be a great way to save muscle strength before taking the hike to the top. Also, the shuttle drivers are often full of information about the best areas for photos on the dam and tidbits of history and interesting facts.
Guests are encouraged to stroll or hike to the top of the dam either before or after stopping in the visitor center to watch the introduction movie (which also goes into detail about the history of the dam and how it was physically built) and view the exhibits. If guests choose to stop in the visitor center first, they are also strongly encouraged to rent a self-guided audio tour before hitting the trail.
The visitor center also offers guests a unique perspective on the dam through its huge picture windows. Also make sure to check out the various viewing platforms that allow different ways to see the dam, as well as great photo opportunities!
Also make sure to pick up a Wyoming sticker, as they are offered at many of the different state welcome and visitor centers! They have Cody, Bull Moose, The Tetons, Rodeo Capital, Yellowstone or Bust, and Wild Horses. The visitor center also offers free local maps, which can be very helpful for exploring the area.
Do not expect to stay too long, as most guests report visiting the dam and visitor center takes around 30 to 60 minutes to visit. However, it is a very interesting stop and well worth the small detour.
Great Dam Day - Hosted on the 3rd Saturday in August, Great Dam Day encourages guests to come, hike up Old Dam Road, learn about the history of the dam, and just generally enjoy the beauty and scenery of the dam and the area surrounding it with other dam enthusiasts. Children can take part in the treasure hunt/hide and seek event, which is a great way to get the kids involved in learning the history of the dam. There is also different food and entertainment offered during Dam Day, which can be enjoyed at the picnic tables while viewing the magnificent beauty that is the dam. There may also be a visit from Buffalo Bill Cody himself (or, at least, impersonator William Boycott).
Another special part of visiting during Great Dam Day is that guests are allowed to hike during often “off limits” areas, like being able to view it from behind/at the side of Shoshone Canyon.
There is a small gift shop located at the Buffalo Bill dam. Pick up some apparel like a t-shirt or a hat, or even grab a postcard to send home to friends and family to commemorate the visit! Grabbing a souvenir is a great way to help support the small visitor center and the small staff and volunteers who spend much of their time there.
Buffalo Bill Dam, 4808 N. Fork Highway, Cody, WY, 82414, Phone: 307-527-6076