After raising my sons for 17 and 14 years respectively, I was proud of their appreciation for the simplicity that was so inherent to my native Montana nature, despite the fact that they were raised in a big city. So when it was time to choose a vacation spot for a long weekend one summer, Cody, Wyoming seemed like the perfect spot, although we had to do a little persuading to get dad as hyped up as we were.
“Are you sure you guys wouldn’t rather go to a resort somewhere?” my husband, Todd, asked before we booked our trip.
“Dad, I will get you in cowboy boots and on a horse if it’s the last thing I do!” our 14 year old son, Connor yelled from the other room. He and his older brother, Sean, shared a grin.
“I don’t want to lay on a beach and ignore each other all weekend. I want to spend time with these boys and make memories as a family,” I explained to Todd.
We made reservations at a local guest ranch, and started planning our itinerary.
The ranch was in a secluded area that allowed us to enjoy all the conveniences of town, but still get lost in the openness of Cody. We booked a private cabin, and immediately set out on horseback through the bright green trees underneath an endless blue sky. These were the activities that were a vital part of my childhood, and while the boys loved them, I hadn’t quite won their father over yet, and I hoped this adventure would change that.
While Todd seemed a little nervous on his horse, the boys quickly found their stride and followed each other trotting up the trail. I laughed as Todd bounced up and down once his horse started to follow the boys, and our guide calmly showed him how to slow her down.
We stopped to pick wildflowers, and the boys made me a special bouquet full of vibrant colors. We finished the excursion with a picnic the ranch cook packed for us.
After a long but relaxing day on horseback, we showered and headed to The Cody Gunfighters Show. The boys’ eyes were wide and their smiles huge as they watched a scene from the Wild West play out right in front of them. The performance was so authentic, I felt my heart skip a bit after each shooting pop. I’d quickly grab Todd’s arm, and just as quickly realize it was all part of the show. I couldn’t help but laugh with Sean, Connor, and Todd at my reactions.
After the Gunfighters Show, we watched the Cody Nite Rodeo, a real rodeo experience. The boys joined other kids in the rodeo arena as they chased calves during the calf scramble, we all had our picture taken on Hollywood the Bull, and Todd even had his face painted. The clowns entertained us with barrels and bulls, and just listening to the bull stomp their hooves had us all on our feet.
We left the evening’s events on a high, ready to enjoy some more time in the outdoors over the next few days.
We started the following morning with inflatable kayaks, also known as “duckies,” on the Shoshone River. With our guide, we paddled beside and between boulders, and miraculously we all stayed mostly dry—well, except Todd, who ended up soaking wet. Through the water dripping down his face, I saw an ear-to-ear grin. Despite not being a nature-lover, he was having an amazing time. He playfully splashed the boys, who splashed right back—again, it was hard not to laugh with them.
After Todd dried off and our bellies were full of food from the picnic we packed, we headed to Shoshone National Forest for a hike on the Closed Creek trail in the Crandall Area. The snow-topped mountains in the distance provided a stunningly beautiful contrast to the summer warmth. In one afternoon, we spent time on everything from rushing water to exposed rock to thriving forests to flat meadows.
Todd’s favorite part of the trip came the next day: the Sleeping Giant Zipline. I’d experienced ziplines before, but nothing like flying through the beautiful ridges of Wyoming with the blue sky surrounding as far as the eye could see. I giggled through all five stations and 7,000 feet of zipline, and I felt truly free soaring through the Wyoming landscape as I heard Todd whooping and yelling right next to me. After two full days of adventure, nothing could beat the feeling of free-falling surrounded by tall pine trees, mountain ridges and a blue sky with fluffy white clouds.
Sean and his brother loved the freefall down the Zip 5 platform as their final fall was coordinated down 37 feet. Although they were side by side, I heard the boys laughing and yelling at each other as they sped down the cable.
“Tag! You’re it!” Sean shouted at Connor as they both disappeared over the edge and out of our view. I said a quick thank you for the double harnesses before I started my own trip down the zipline with Todd next to me, as we opted to zip rather than freefall down the final leg.
We landed with smiles that wouldn’t fade quickly. It was then that Todd said the words every wife loves to hear from her husband.
“You were right,” he said. “This is the perfect place to make family memories.”
Explore Cody to inspire your next getaway.