The summer season offers a narrow window of opportunity to enjoy some fun in the sun at the high elevation lakes and aquatic destinations that are located in places that are notorious for having brutally cold long winters. Enjoy the warm sunshine while you can is the word at these kinds of lakeside destinations. In Wyoming, the summer aquatic sports season is short and sweet at the big lakes, so one simply cannot hesitate to grasp the opportunity while the door is open!
There are many lakeside destinations in the central mountain west region and some are much busier than others. Lakes in remote areas are usually managed by the National Forest Service or the BLM, so free primitive camping is usually an option. At the busier lake destinations that are easy to access, a visitor can count on pricey fee areas and campgrounds, which are still a good bargain when compared to the cost of a nearby motel room basecamp.
State Parks as a whole are notorious for high priced fees, but the facility management is nearly always top notch, so you do get what you pay for. The Wyoming State Park fees actually are a bargain when compared to the sky high Utah and Colorado pricing. Wyoming even reduces the State Park entrance and camping fees for the winter season, if you are crazy enough to take on the extremely harsh cold windy weather conditions!
The Buffalo Bill State Park features the Buffalo Bill Reservoir Lake and the Buffalo Bill Dam. This State Park is located next to Cody, Wyoming, which Buffalo Bill named after himself. Yes, everything in this region is named after the legendary Buffalo Bill and for good reason. William Cody was an explorer that knew this region well and he was a local Yellowstone hunting guide for many decades. As the legend of Buffalo Bill grew, so did his enterprises and he was instrumental in starting the Buffalo Bill Dam project back in the early 1900s. Buffalo Bill certainly was a one man army of a tourism entrepreneur and the majestic lakeside Buffalo Bill State Park certainly was part of his vision.
When coming from the direction of Cody, there really is no clue as to a big lake being nearby, because it is hidden by tall mountains. It is not till a visitor exits the Buffalo Bill Tunnel that the Buffalo Bill Dam comes into view. The dam is where the visitors center can be found and all information about boating and fishing regulations can be found here. The visitor center parking area is huge and this is a good place to take in the views of the big lake.
The Buffalo Reservoir is situated in a deep ravine at the start of Shoshone Canyon. The Shoshone River feeds the Buffalo Bill Reservoir and the Shoshone Canyon goes west all the way to the Yellowstone National Park East Entrance Gate. Next to the National Park entrance is where the historic Pahaska Teepee can be found, which is Buffalo Bill's original Yellowstone hunting lodge. Since the Shoshone River is world famous for trout fly fishing, the same can be said about the Buffalo Bill Reservoir Lake.
This big reservoir is home to several prized gamefish, like Rainbow Trout, Brown Trout, Lake Trout and an ancient landlocked Cutthroat Trout species. For those who like to fish for easy food with absolutely no size or catch restrictions, the non-native Walleye Pike are the prime target. Some kind of a simple minded idiot from the Great Lakes region has been placing Walleye Pike in Colorado and Wyoming lakes in recent years, which endangers the local trout species. By law, all Walleye Pike that are caught must be killed on the spot while fishing in the Buffalo Bill Reservoir Lake, so filling up the frying pan with every invasive Walleye in this lake actually is a good thing to do!
Just a little further west of the visitor center is where the Buffalo Bill State Park day use picnic area, campgrounds and the boat launch marina can be found. The showers and water spigots flow during the short summer season and they are turned off shortly after the first freeze warning. This is part of the reason why the fee rates are reduced during the long winter season.
The lakeside picnic areas at Buffalo Bill State Park sure are cozy and the campgrounds overlook the lake too. High mountain peaks surround this reservoir, so the setting certainly is as picturesque as can be. This lake is big enough to never seem crowded even on a holiday weekend and part of the reason why is because one of the most visited National Parks in the world is located right next door. For this reason, the Buffalo Bill State Park is often overlooked by mainstream tourists, which is like a dream come true for those who seek some elbow room. The Buffalo Bill State Park is well worth noting, if you happen to have relaxation and fishing in mind!
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