50 Interesting Facts About Wyoming

Last updated on November 5th, 2019

Wyoming is the 50th most populous and the 10th most extensive of the 50 states of the United States. It is in the mountain region of the western United States. The state attained statehood on July 10, 1890, becoming the 44th state to join the union. Its bordering states are Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nebraska, South Dakota, and Utah. Wyoming (nicknamed: Cowboy State, Equality State, Park State) has 23 counties. The state’s capital is Cheyenne. The abbreviation for Wyoming is Wyo. With these 44 facts about Wyoming, let us learn more about its history, geography, people, economy and more.

1. The Red Desert in South Central Wyoming does not drain to the east or to the west. The continental divide simply splits and then goes around the desert on all sides of the area. This leaves the basin without any normal drainage. The desert is home to the Killpecker Sand Dunes, the largest active dune system in the U.S. and the second largest active sand dune field in the world. The world’s largest herd of desert elk can also be found here.[1,2]

2. James Cash Penney, the founder of the popular J.C. Penney Stores established his first store in Kemmerer, Wyoming. That was back in April 1902. Today, J.C. Penney has over one thousand stores in different parts of the USA. This store employs many people in Wyoming.[3]

Here is an inspirational quote by the businessman that can potentially change the way you look at your life.

It is then we must remember that all good days in human life come from
the mastery of the days of trouble that are forever recurrent.
– J.C. Penney

3. The award winning Rocky IV is the fourth film in Sylvester Stallone’s Rocky series. The training scenes in Rocky IV were shot Jackson’s Hole, Wyoming. The other scenes supposedly showing the frozen landscapes of Russia were shot in the Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming.[4]

Wyoming state with bordering states
Wyoming (in red) bordered by other six states on the U.S map.

4. Wyoming is a very peaceful place these days. However, it was the scene of bloody battles in the 19th century. The Indian warriors Crazy Horse and Red Cloud led extremely well-organized armies of Sioux, Cheyenne, and Arapaho troops. These fighters decimated US troops at the Ft. Phil Kearny in 1886.

5. Wyoming has many state parks. The largest park in Wyoming is the Boysen. This park is located in Riverton and it is home to the nearby Boysen Reservoir. The state park covers more than 35,000 acres at the south end of the Owl Creek Mountains at the mouth of the Wind River Canyon.[28]

6. Wyoming has a number of state symbols. The state tree is the cottonwood and the state bird is the meadowlark. The state flower is the Indian Paintbrush and there is even a state dinosaur. The state dinosaur is the Triceratops. Wyoming is just one of the six states with a designated dinosaur.

7. Many people are familiar with the California Gold Rush. The Wyoming Gold Rush came almost 20 years after the California Gold Rush. This happened in 1867 when Lewis Robison and Joshua Terry discovered the Carisso ledge.[5,6]

8. The Wind River in Wyoming changes its name in the middle of the stream. At this point, it becomes the Big Horn River. This is a sacred spot for the Native Americans because they hold an annual ceremony here depicting the “Wedding of the Waters.”[7,8]

Nellie Tayloe Ross
Nellie Tayloe Ross. Image credit – Wikipedia.org

9. The first female governor in American history was elected in Wyoming. Her name was Nellie Ross and she was the wife of Wyoming governor, William Bradford Ross. After her husband died in office, she was elected to finish his tenure. She served the sate from 1925 to 1927 and she remains the only female governor in Wyoming history.[9]

10. Wyoming enjoys a solid reputation as a coal-producing state. The two largest coal mines in the US are North Antelope Rochelle Mine (the largest coal mine in the world, located in Campbell County) and Black Thunder mine near Wright, Wyoming. The first coal mine in Wyoming started operations in 1867 and according to official figures, Wyoming had a peak production of 3 million tons of coal per week in 1994.[10,11,12]

11. “Old faithful” is a famous (or infamous) cone geyser in the Yellowstone National Park. It has the name because its eruptions are very predictable. This geyser erupts every 90 minutes and about 90% of its eruptions are predictable within a ten-minute window. Did you know that there are more geysers in Yellowstone than anywhere else on earth?[13]

12. Wyoming has dozens of islands. There are at least 32 named islands in the state (not to mention the unnamed ones). Most of these islands are located in Jackson Lake, Yellowstone Lake and the Green River area.[14]

13. On April 30 2015, some folks in Laramie, Wyoming danced their way into the Guinness Book of World Records. This event took place at the Fieldhouse at the University of Wyoming. One thousand one hundred and eighty-four swing dancers hit the floor at the same time and this became a world record.[29]

14. The official state mammal of Wyoming is the bison. However, there are too many of these animals around and this is why they have to be culled. Park officials claim bisons hurt more people than any other animal at the Yellowstone National Park. To curtail the bison population, it is legal to hunt and kill the bison in Wyoming. However, to hunt the bison, you would need a Wyoming state bison license, issued by the Wyoming Game & Fish Department. Learn more about bison hunting techniques and the difference between male and female bison.[15]

15. The people of Wyoming love to read and you have the evidence right here. The Laramie County Library System is the oldest organized library system in the USA. This library has been in existence since 1886 and it is still going strong.[16]

16. The people of Wyoming love the theater. They also love amusement parks and they have laws to protect you when you visit these places. In Wyoming, it is against the law to wear a hat that interferes with other people’s view in theaters or places of amusement.[17]

17. In 1881, the infamous outlaw Big Nose George Parrot was lynched. An eccentric doctor had the criminal’s skin tanned and transformed into shoes. That doctor, John Eugene Osborne, eventually became Governor of Wyoming and served as Secretary of State under the Woodrow Wilson administration.[18]

18. For travelers to Utah, California, and Oregon, the Independence Rock was a huge meeting point. In the 19th century, travelers always made it a point to arrive at this point before the 4th of July each year. This is because they did not want to miss the famous 4th of July party held at the rock every year.[30]

Tower Bridge illuminated with the Olympic Rings during the week leading up to the Opening Ceremony
Tower Bridge illuminated with the Olympic Rings during the week leading up to the Opening Ceremony. Image credit – Wikipedia.org

19. Apparently, the people of Wyoming love sports and they are very keen on the Olympic Games. At the 2012 Summer Olympics in London, two Olympians represented Wyoming. Now with a population of 568,158, Wyoming was the most represented state per capita in the country, followed by California (one per 294,468), Vermont (one per 313,216), Hawaii (one per 343,703) and Oregon (one per 351,987).[19]

20. Did you know that more people live in Denver, Colorado than in all of Wyoming?

21. The state has the lowest population of all and tenth-largest area.[32]

22. By mean elevation, Wyoming is the second highest state just after Colorado.

23. Wyoming is not a stranger to ranches. The first Dude Ranch in the world was established at Wolf, Wyoming. This ranch was moved to its present location in 1904 and it is still in operation.

24. There is an overwhelming federal presence in Wyoming. Almost half of the state (48%) is owned by the US government. The federal owned holdings include an Air Force Base in the capital city, the National Grasslands and the famous national forests.[20]

25. Wyoming is famous for being the first territory that gave its women the right to vote. This trail-blazing decision was taken in 1869 and it conferred on Wyoming the status of a civil rights state. On September 6, 1870, Louisa Ann Swain of Laramie, Wyoming became the first woman to cast a vote in a general election.[21]

Afton Wyoming Elkhorn Arch
Main Street Afton with antler arch. Image credit – Wikipedia.org

26. The main street in the town of Afton has an arch made of elk antlers. This arch stands 75 feet tall and the antlers of approximately 3,011 elk were used to construct the arch.[22]

27. The University of Wyoming is the only public four-year institution in the state. This school was established four years before Wyoming became a state in 1886. 

28. The Devil’s Tower is located in Wyoming and it is the nation’s first National Monument, established on September 24, 1906, by President Theodore Roosevelt. The Devil’s Tower received a boost in 1977 when the popular movie “Close Encounters of the Third Kind” featured some places in the heritage site. This created a lot of awareness and had movie fans flocking to the area. Almost half a million people visited the Tower in 2017.[23]

29. Campbell County High School is the largest secondary school in Wyoming. This school has 8,100 students and sits on 4,761 square miles. The school has a student to teacher ratio of 18:1 and it has 25 school facilities. The school employs qualified teachers who are experts in their subject areas. The school carries out a change in the curriculum every six years and maintains a very high standard. The school was recognized as one of the Best Public High Schools by U.S. News and World Report.

30. After Utah and Idaho, Wyoming has the third-largest population of Mormons in America.[24]

Wyoming on the map

31. In the USA, only three states have names that begin with two consonants. These states are Florida, Rhode Island, and Wyoming. Wyoming is unique in the sense that non-Americans seem to have problems pronouncing the name of the state. However, the consonant clusters at the beginning of the word “Wyoming” is not a big problem. With a little practice, you can pronounce the name perfectly.

32. In 1939, some areas in northern Wyoming made an attempt to join parts of Montana and South Dakota to form a new state. The new state was to be called “Absaroka” with Sheridan, as its proposed capital. A new license plate was even considered and a “Miss Absaroka” was named or the new state. Ultimately, the new state did not happen. 

33. The official motto of Wyoming is “Equal Rights”. One of the nicknames given to the state is the “Equality State”. Both refer to the fact that Wyoming pioneered women’s suffrage in 1869. However, this motto was only officially adopted in 1955. That is 86 years after the groundbreaking decision to give women the vote.

34. The Yellowstone National Park is one of the largest national parks in the US. The national park sees more than four million visitors every year. The park is primarily located in Wyoming and was established in 1872. It spans almost 3,500 miles and extends into parts of Montana and Idaho. Visitors flock to the Yellowstone because of the unique ecosystem of the area and the diverse collection of birds, mammals, and amphibians.[33]

35. The pronghorn is the second fastest animal on land (after the cheetah) and it is a native of Wyoming. The pronghorn is also the fastest land animal in the western hemisphere. These animals can travel at speeds of 60-70 mph and you can see them migrating from the Upper Green River Basin to the Grand Teton National Park.

Grand Prismatic Spring and Midway Geyser Basin. Image credit- Wikipedia.org

36. The largest hot spring in the USA is located in Wyoming. The Grand Prismatic Spring is actually in Yellowstone Park and it is the third-largest spring in the world. This spring is 250 by 300 feet and is remarkable for its rich colors.

37. This trail stretches across present-day Wyoming and its neighboring states. Emigrants from Wyoming carved their names into a cliff face along the way to let family and friends know they had survived the trail. This rock is now a recognized landmark and it is called Register Cliff.

38. The state of Wyoming features a man on a bronco. This bucking horse actually has a name. It is called “Old Steamboat” and this name refers to a particularly feisty horse. 

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