The Wests Go Western: Inside Kim and Kanye’s New Life in Cody, Wyoming
Kanye West and Kim Kardashian West have found home on a ranch in the historic cowboy town of Cody, Wyoming. Residents tell The Daily Beast how the famous family is settling in.
Kanye West hasn’t even called Cody, Wyoming, home for a month, but the sightings of the rapper have already become local lore.
Yeezy reportedly introduced himself to the mayor upon moving to the town of 10,000. Along with his wife Kim, Kanye posed with a girls’ swim team outside a barbecue restaurant. He’s endeared himself to employees at the local McDonald’s due to frequent coffee runs, a town official told The Daily Beast.
One local reporter heard an (unconfirmed) story that the 21-time Grammy Award winner was spotted walking alone down a country road, only to be picked up by a kindly stranger and driven home a few miles away.
Home would be the $14 million ranch the Kardashian-West crew purchased earlier this month, a 4,500-acre property formerly known as Monster Lake. West seems to particularly enjoy spending time on his ATV—perhaps too much.
Last week, an employee from the state’s Department of Game and Fish paid the couple a visit after Kardashian released a video of West chasing after two antelope on his four-wheeler, with his wife yelling, “I think you’re scaring them!” (TMZ reported the two were subjected to a mere “lecture” from the officer.)
Though Kardashian made it clear on the Emmys red carpet that she “loves” L.A. as a native Californian and only wants to spend “summers” and “some weekends” at their pricey new home, the family of six seems quite taken with the northwestern Wyoming town, one of the largest in its area. Kim said she loves the “chill” pace of life. The woman who made $100 million from her cosmetics company last year loves that she “[has] worn no makeup [and] sweats” exclusively at Monster Lake.
Cody locals have a list of reasons they love their town, too. “I would say we’re a very conservative town that appreciates the values of the West,” Barry A. Cook, Cody’s city administrator told The Daily Beast. “Companies move here and look at Cody to grow. The people would like to preserve the heritage and culture.”
Founded by showman and frontier figure Buffalo Bill (aka William Frederick Cody) in 1896, the town wears its cowboy reputation as proudly as Kim reps Calabasas. It’s known as the “Rodeo Capital of the World,” holding amateur wrangling competitions every night in the summer.
Mayor Matt Hall told The Daily Beast that Kanye’s “people” reached out to city officials requesting a meeting of introduction. “I think he wanted to come in and say hi,” Mayor Hall said. “He asked where would be a good place to have the Sunday Service. We gave him a few ideas, but ultimately he went with the [Buffalo Bill Center of the West].”
The Mayor went on to describe West as “a pretty open and sincere individual” who “had a desire to talk about deeper subjects, what he could do to possibly help the town.”
“He seemed curious about what Cody is like, actually, from my perspective,” Mayor Hall said.
The two spoke about how the economy largely relies on tourism, and that townspeople and city officials alike want to diversify the types of jobs available in Cody.
“I’ve heard some of his songs and liked a few of them, but I’m not a huge fan,” Mayor Hall explained.
He added, “I’ve been reached out by relatives on the west coast who still want me to call them back and talk about it.”
The Mayor has no immediate plans to visit the Wests on their ranch, and after the initial meeting, mostly plans to leave the famous pair alone.
“The way our town works is that when people move here, it’s a lot of times with the intent to have a space away from the world a little bit,” Mayor Hall said. “Generally, the culture of the town is, ‘Yeah, ok, do your thing.’”
As a pitstop on the Yellowstone Highway that leads tourists to the national park, Cody is also home to a score of museums celebrating yeehaw culture, including the Buffalo Bill Center of the West, where West held a Sunday Service last weekend.
Macy Nelson lives in Billings, Montana. On Sunday, she woke up at 6 a.m. and drove two hours to get a spot at Kanye West’s Sunday Service, which was advertised only on local news stations.
“People are commenting about how they don’t want Kanye and Kim there because they’re ‘too much,’ saying they will ‘ruin’ the town’s rich history of being a ‘small’ town,” Nelson explained. “Others claim that Kanye is doing the Sunday services for attention and to bring publicity to his family. However, I found exactly the opposite. He only spoke a few words the whole time and was singing with the choir the rest of the time.”
Erika Dahlby drove nearly 150 miles from her home in Jackson, Wyoming, to see Kanye’s church service. She got to the event before its doors had opened, and waiting in a line she saw on Google Maps to be over a half mile long.
“Looking at the line, there were little old ladies from Cody, people with their kids, and a lot of people from the regional area,” Dahlby said. “There were ladies who had to be in their seventies who brought their foldout chairs. It was so cute to see people curious about who Kanye is and what his service was.”
The Billings Gazette reported that 3,800 people showed up to the free event, which Dahlby described as a “Welcome to the neighborhood party.” Kanye and his 80-person choir wore matching graphic T-shirts which read “Wyoming” above a photo of a landscape. (You could spot Ye because he wore a yellow hoodie underneath the top.)
“It was cool for him to be like, ‘This is who I am, this is what I do, this is what I’m about,’” Dahlby said. “He almost put the [people of Cody] who are wondering, ‘Who is this person coming into our town’ at ease.” According to Dahlby, when Kanye first came out, someone in the crowd yelled a friendly, “Welcome home!”
At one point, the choir director asked for people from Wyoming to make some noise. “Then he went into name-dropping these little towns, like Powell, a town of 5,000, then Sheridan, then Billings,” Dahlbly said. “It was nice that they took the time to learn where people were coming from. They made an effort to know their audience.”
Reporter Leo Wolfson covered the Sunday Service for the local Cody Enterprise. A Brigham Young student named Kalli Roberts who attended the extravaganza told Wolfson that Kanye’s show was “ kind of like taking cookies to a new neighbor.” Wolfson told The Daily Beast he’s seen a “general mix” of reaction from townspeople regarding Cody’s latest resident.
“The majority of people probably feel positive more than negative,” Wolfson said. “I think mild interest is probably the biggest group represented of what I see. Kind of a joking, humorous thing to know he lives here now. A small group of people, mostly high schoolers, are very excited. Those who feel negative think that Los Angeles is coming to Cody.”
Kathie, an employee at the town's Texture Salon & Spa, told The Daily Beast: “Kanye has been all around town. I haven’t seen Kim that much. I would imagine she has someone do her own hair and makeup.”
An anonymous woman who has lived in town for 28 years and works in the tourism industry told The Daily Beast of its new celebrity residents, “Nobody’s excited about it or upset about it or anything like that. It’s just what it is. Another person moving to Cody, hoping to live the dream.”
Cook, the city administrator, told The Daily Beast that he sat in on the meeting with Mayor Hall, describing it as amicable and “general.”
“[Kanye] just wanted to introduce himself to the mayor and to the community,” Cook explained. “They talked for a little bit of time about nothing specific. Just asking some questions about the community and the area. He’s very fascinated with the open spaces, and I wish him well.”
After a busy weekend at the Cody Enterprise writing about the Sunday Service, general assignment reporter Wolfson says its back to local news as usual: covering the opening of a new garden at the local museum, the high school football team’s first game of the season, and the national park’s new electric bike policy.
“Unless other things happen that fall into the public purview, I’m probably not going to do another Kanye West story,” Wolfson said. “Maybe one more article at some point wrapping up the whole ranch sale deal. We’re definitely toeing the line between giving the coverage that TMZ gives to this sort of thing, and we want to separate ourselves from it.”