State of Wyoming
Flag of Wyoming State seal of Wyoming
Flag Seal
Nickname(s): Equality State (official);
Cowboy State; Big Wyoming
Motto(s): Equal Rights
Map of the United States with Wyoming highlighted
Official language English
Demonym Wyomingite
Capital
(and largest city)
Cheyenne
Largest metro Cheyenne Metro Area
Area Ranked 10th
 - Total 97,914 sq mi
(253,600 km2)
 - Width 372.8 miles (600 km)
 - Length 280 miles (452 km)
 - % water 0.7
 - Latitude 41°N to 45°N
 - Longitude 104°3'W to 111°3'W
Number of people Ranked 50th
 - Total 586,107 (2015 estimate); 563,626 (2010 census)
 - Density 5.97/sq mi  (2.31/km2)
Ranked 49th
 - Average income $60,925 (15th)
Height above sea level
 - Highest point Gannett Peak
13,809 ft (4209.1 m)
 - Average 6,700 ft  (2040 m)
 - Lowest point Belle Fourche River at South Dakota border
3,101 ft (945 m)
Became part of the U.S. July 10, 1890 (44th)
Governor Matt Mead (R)
U.S. Senators Mike Enzi (R)
John Barrasso (R)
U.S. House delegation Liz Cheney (R) (list)
Time zone Mountain: UTC -7/-6
Abbreviations WY, Wyo. US-WY
Website wyoming.gov
Wyoming State symbols
Flag of Wyoming.svg
The Flag of Wyoming.

Seal of Wyoming.svg
The Seal of Wyoming.

Animate insignia
Bird(s) Western meadowlark (Sturnella neglecta)
Butterfly Ty Tonnette Sandoval
Fish Cutthroat trout (Oncorhynchus clarki)
Flower(s) Wyoming Indian paintbrush (Castilleja linariifolia)
Grass Western wheatgrass (Pascopyrum smithii)
Mammal(s) American bison (Bison bison)
Reptile Horned lizard (Phrynosoma douglassi brevirostre)
Tree Plains cottonwood (Populus sargentii)

Inanimate insignia
Dinosaur Triceratops
Fossil Knightia
Mineral Nephrite
Soil Forkwood (unofficial)
Song(s) "Wyoming" by Charles E. Winter & George E. Knapp

Route marker(s)
Wyoming Route Marker

State Quarter
Quarter of Wyoming
Released in 2007

Lists of United States state insignia

Wyoming is a state in the mountain region of the western United States. Wyoming is bordered on the north by Montana, on the east by South Dakota and Nebraska, on the south by Colorado, on the southwest by Utah, and on the west by Idaho.

Cheyenne is the capital and the most populous city in Wyoming, with a population estimate of 63,335 in 2015.

The western two-thirds of the state is covered mostly with the mountain ranges and rangelands in the Rocky Mountains, while the eastern third of the state is high elevation prairie known as the High Plains. The federal lands include two national parks—Grand Teton and Yellowstone—two national recreation areas and two national monuments, as well as several national forests, historic sites, fish hatcheries, and wildlife refuges.

The Crow, Arapaho, Lakota, and Shoshone were some of the original inhabitants of the region.

Southwestern Wyoming was included in the Spanish Empire and then Mexican territory until it was ceded to the United States in 1848 at the end of the Mexican–American War.

The region acquired the name Wyoming when a bill was introduced to Congress in 1865 to provide a "temporary government for the territory of Wyoming." The territory was named after the Wyoming Valley in Pennsylvania, with the name ultimately being derived from the Munsee word meaning "at the big river flat."

The mineral extraction industry—especially coal, oil, natural gas, and trona—along with the travel and tourism sector are the main drivers behind Wyoming's economy. Agriculture has historically been an important component of the state economy with the main commodities being livestock (beef), hay, sugar beets, grain (wheat and barley), and wool.

The climate is generally semi-arid and continental, being drier and windier in comparison to the rest of the United States, with greater temperature extremes.

Geography

Location and size

As specified in the designating legislation for the Territory of Wyoming, Wyoming's borders are lines of latitude, 41°N and 45°N, and longitude, 104°3'W and 111°3'W (27° W and 34° W of the Washington Meridian), making the shape of the state a latitude-longitude quadrangle. Wyoming is one of only three states (along with Colorado and Utah) to have borders along only straight latitudinal and longitudinal lines, rather than being defined by natural landmarks. Due to surveying inaccuracies during the 19th century, Wyoming's legal border deviates from the true latitude and longitude lines by up to half of a mile (0.8 km) in some spots, especially in the mountainous region along the 45th parallel. Wyoming is bordered on the north by Montana, on the east by South Dakota and Nebraska, on the south by Colorado, on the southwest by Utah, and on the west by Idaho. It is the tenth largest state in the United States in total area, containing 97,814 square miles (253,340 km2) and is made up of 23 counties. From the north border to the south border it is 276 miles (444 km); and from the east to the west border is 365 miles (587 km) at its south end and 342 miles (550 km) at the north end.

Mountain ranges

The Great Plains meet the Rocky Mountains in Wyoming. The state is a great plateau broken by many mountain ranges. Surface elevations range from the summit of Gannett Peak in the Wind River Mountain Range, at 13,804 feet (4,207 m), to the Belle Fourche River valley in the state's northeast corner, at 3,125 feet (952 m). In the northwest are the Absaroka, Owl Creek, Gros Ventre, Wind River and the Teton ranges. In the north central are the Big Horn Mountains; in the northeast, the Black Hills; and in the southern region the Laramie, Snowy and Sierra Madre ranges.

The Snowy Range in the south central part of the state is an extension of the Colorado Rockies in both geology and appearance. The Wind River Range in the west central part of the state is remote and includes more than 40 mountain peaks in excess of 13,000 ft (4,000 m) tall in addition to Gannett Peak, the highest peak in the state. The Big Horn Mountains in the north central portion are somewhat isolated from the bulk of the Rocky Mountains.

The Teton Range in the northwest extends for 50 miles (80 km), part of which is included in Grand Teton National Park. The park includes the Grand Teton, the second highest peak in the state.

The Continental Divide spans north-south across the central portion of the state. Rivers east of the divide drain into the Missouri River Basin and eventually the Gulf of Mexico. They are the North Platte, Wind, Big Horn and the Yellowstone rivers. The Snake River in northwest Wyoming eventually drains into the Columbia River and the Pacific Ocean, as does the Green River through the Colorado River Basin.

The Continental Divide forks in the south central part of the state in an area known as the Great Divide Basin where the waters that flow or precipitate into this area remain there and cannot flow to any ocean. Instead, because of the overall aridity of Wyoming, water in the Great Divide Basin simply sinks into the soil or evaporates.

Several rivers begin in or flow through the state, including the Yellowstone River, Bighorn River, Green River, and the Snake River.

Islands

Wyoming has 32 named islands, of which the majority are located in Jackson Lake and Yellowstone Lake within Yellowstone National Park in the northwest portion of the state. The Green River in the southwest also contains a number of islands.

Public lands

Wyoming ref 2001
Wyoming terrain map

More than 48% of the land in Wyoming is owned by the U.S. government, leading Wyoming to rank sixth in the United States in total acres and fifth in percentage of a state's land owned by the federal government. This amounts to about 30,099,430 acres (121,808.1 km2) owned and managed by the United States government. The state government owns an additional 6% of all Wyoming lands, or another 3,864,800 acres (15,640 km2).

The vast majority of this government land is administered by the Bureau of Land Management and U.S. Forest Service in numerous national forests, a national grassland, and a number of vast swathes of public land, in addition to the Francis E. Warren Air Force Base in Cheyenne.

Map Wyoming NPS sites USA
National Park Service sites map

In addition, Wyoming contains areas managed by the National Park Service and other agencies such as the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, including:

National parks

Memorial parkway

  • John D. Rockefeller Jr. Memorial Parkway between Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks

National recreation areas

  • Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area
  • Flaming Gorge National Recreation Area (managed by the Forest Service as part of Ashley National Forest)

National monuments

National historic trails, landmarks and sites

National fish hatcheries

  • Jackson National Fish Hatchery
  • Saratoga National Fish Hatchery

National wildlife refuges

  • National Elk Refuge
  • Seedskadee National Wildlife Refuge
Panoramic view of the Teton Range looking west from Jackson Hole, Grand Teton National Park

Climate

Wyoming
Wyoming state welcome sign on Interstate 80 in Uinta County (at the Utah border)
Autumn in the Bighorn Mountains
Autumn in the Bighorn Mountains

Wyoming's climate is generally semi-arid and continental, and is drier and windier in comparison to most of the United States with greater temperature extremes. Much of this is due to the topography of the state.

Summers in Wyoming are warm with July high temperatures averaging between 85 and 95 °F (29 and 35 °C) in most of the state. With increasing elevation, however, this average drops rapidly with locations above 9,000 feet (2,700 m) averaging around 70 °F (21 °C).

Winters are cold, but are variable with periods of sometimes extreme cold interspersed between generally mild periods, with Chinook winds providing unusually warm temperatures in some locations.

Wyoming is a dry state with much of the land receiving less than 10 inches (250 mm) of rainfall per year.

The number of thunderstorm days vary across the state with the southeastern plains of the state having the most days of thunderstorm activity. Thunderstorm activity in the state is highest during the late spring and early summer.

The southeastern corner of the state is the most vulnerable part of the state to tornado activity. Moving away from that point and westwards, the incidence of tornadoes drops dramatically with the west part of the state showing little vulnerability. Tornadoes, where they occur, tend to be small and brief, unlike some of those that occur a little farther east.

History

Alfred Jacob Miller - Fort Laramie - Walters 37194049
The first Fort Laramie as it looked before 1840 (painting from memory by Alfred Jacob Miller)

Several Native American groups originally inhabited the region now known as Wyoming. The Crow, Arapaho, Lakota, and Shoshone were but a few of the original inhabitants encountered when white explorers first entered the region. What is now southwestern Wyoming became a part of the Spanish Empire and later Mexican territory of Alta California, until it was ceded to the United States in 1848 at the end of the Mexican–American War. French-Canadian trappers from Québec and Montréal went into the state in the late 18th century, leaving French toponyms such as Téton, La Ramie, etc. John Colter, a member of the Lewis and Clark Expedition, itself guided by French Canadian Toussaint Charbonneau and his young Shoshone wife, Sacagawea, first described the region in 1807. At the time, his reports of the Yellowstone area were considered to be fictional. Robert Stuart and a party of five men returning from Astoria discovered South Pass in 1812. The Oregon Trail later followed that route. In 1850, Jim Bridger located what is now known as Bridger Pass, which the Union Pacific Railroad used in 1868—as did Interstate 80, 90 years later. Bridger also explored Yellowstone and filed reports on the region that, like those of Colter, were largely regarded as tall tales at the time.

The region had acquired the name Wyoming by 1865, when Representative James Mitchell Ashley of Ohio introduced a bill to Congress to provide a "temporary government for the territory of Wyoming". The territory was named after the Wyoming Valley in Pennsylvania, made famous by the 1809 poem Gertrude of Wyoming by Thomas Campbell, based on the Battle of Wyoming in the American Revolutionary War. The name ultimately derives from the Munsee word xwé:wamənk, meaning "at the big river flat."

Wyoming Jeep Trail
A backcounty road in the Sierra Madre Range of southeastern Wyoming near Bridger Peak

After the Union Pacific Railroad had reached the town of Cheyenne in 1867, the region's population began to grow steadily, and the federal government established the Wyoming Territory on July 25, 1868. Unlike mineral-rich Colorado, Wyoming lacked significant deposits of gold and silver, as well as Colorado's subsequent population boom. However, South Pass City did experience a short-lived boom after the Carissa Mine began producing gold in 1867. Furthermore, copper was mined in some areas between the Sierra Madre Mountains and the Snowy Range near Grand Encampment.

Once government-sponsored expeditions to the Yellowstone country began, reports by Colter and Bridger, previously believed to be apocryphal, were found to be true. This led to the creation of Yellowstone National Park, which became the world's first national park in 1872. Nearly all of Yellowstone National Park lies within the far northwestern borders of Wyoming.

On December 10, 1869, territorial Governor John Allen Campbell extended the right to vote to women, making Wyoming the first territory and then United States state to grant suffrage to women. In addition, Wyoming was also a pioneer in welcoming women into politics. Women first served on juries in Wyoming (Laramie in 1870); Wyoming had the first female court bailiff (Mary Atkinson, Laramie, in 1870); and the first female justice of the peace in the country (Esther Hobart Morris, South Pass City, in 1870). Also, in 1924, Wyoming became the first state to elect a female governor, Nellie Tayloe Ross, who took office in January 1925. Due to its civil-rights history, one of Wyoming's state nicknames is "The Equality State", and the official state motto is "Equal Rights".

Wyoming's constitution included women's suffrage and a pioneering article on water rights. Congress admitted Wyoming into the Union as the 44th state on July 10, 1890.

Demographics

Population

Wyoming population map
Wyoming population density map - the largest population centers are Cheyenne in the southeast and Casper in the east central

The United States Census Bureau estimates that the population of Wyoming was 586,107 on July 1, 2015.

The center of population of Wyoming is located in Natrona County.

In 2014, the United States Census Bureau estimated that the racial composition of the population was 92.7% White American (82.9 non-Hispanic white), 2.7% American Indian and Alaska Native, 1.6% Black or African American, 1.0% Asian American, and 0.1% Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander.

According to the 2000 census, the largest ancestry groups in Wyoming are: German (26.0%), English (16.0%), Irish (13.3%), Norwegian (4.3%), and Swedish (3.5%).

Languages

In 2010, 93.39% (474,343) of Wyomingites over the age of 5 spoke English as their primary language. 4.47% (22,722) spoke Spanish, 0.35% (1,771) spoke German, and 0.28% (1,434) spoke French. Other common non-English languages included Algonquian (0.18%), Russian (0.10%), Tagalog, and Greek (both 0.09%).

In 2007, the American Community Survey reported that 6.2% (30,419) of Wyoming's population over five years old spoke a language other than English at home. Of those, 68.1% were able to speak English very well, 16.0% spoke English well, 10.9% did not speak English well, and 5.0% did not speak English at all.

Economy and infrastructure

The mineral extraction industry and travel and tourism sector are the main drivers behind Wyoming's economy.

Tourism

In 2002, more than six million people visited Wyoming's national parks and monuments. The key tourist attractions in Wyoming include Grand Teton National Park, Yellowstone National Park, Devils Tower National Monument, Independence Rock and Fossil Butte National Monument. Each year Yellowstone National Park, the world's first national park, receives three million visitors.

Agriculture

Historically, agriculture has been an important component of Wyoming's economy. The main agricultural commodities produced in Wyoming include livestock (beef), hay, sugar beets, grain (wheat and barley), and wool. More than 91% of land in Wyoming is classified as rural.

Mineral and energy production

Coal mine Wyoming
A Wyoming coal mine

Wyoming's mineral commodities include coal, natural gas, coalbed methane, crude oil, uranium, and trona.

  • Coal: Wyoming produced 395.5 million short tons (358.8 million metric tons) of coal in 2004, greater than any other state. Wyoming possesses a reserve of 68.7 billion tons (62.3 billion metric tons) of coal. Major coal areas include the Powder River Basin and the Green River Basin
  • Coalbed methane (CBM): The boom for CBM began in the mid-1990s. CBM is characterized as methane gas that is extracted from Wyoming's coal bed seams. It is another means of natural gas production. There has been substantial CBM production in the Powder River Basin. In 2002, the CBM production yield was 327.5 billion cubic feet (9.3 km3).
  • Crude oil: Wyoming produced 53,400,000 barrels (8,490,000 m3) of crude oil in 2007. The state ranked fifth nationwide in oil production in 2007. Petroleum is most often used as a motor fuel, but it is also utilized in the manufacture of plastics, paints, and synthetic rubber.
  • Diamonds: The Kelsey Lake Diamond Mine, located in Colorado less than 1,000 feet (300 m) from the Wyoming border, produced gem quality diamonds for several years. The Wyoming craton, which hosts the kimberlite volcanic pipes that were mined, underlies most of Wyoming.
  • Natural gas: Wyoming produced 1.77 trillion cubic feet (50.0 billion m3) of natural gas in 2016. The state ranked 6th nationwide for natural gas production in 2016. The major markets for natural gas include industrial, commercial, and domestic heating.
Rig wind river
A drilling rig drills for natural gas just west of the Wind River Range in the Wyoming Rockies.
  • Trona: Wyoming possesses the world's largest known reserve of trona, a mineral used for manufacturing glass, paper, soaps, baking soda, water softeners, and pharmaceuticals. In 2008, Wyoming produced 46 million short tons (41.7 million metric tons) of trona, 25% of the world's production.
  • Wind power: Because of Wyoming's geography and high-altitude, the potential for wind power in Wyoming is one of the highest of any state in the US. The Chokecherry and Sierra Madre Wind Energy Project is the largest commercial wind generation facility under development in North America. Carbon County is home to the largest proposed wind farm in the US. However, construction plans have been halted because of proposed new taxes on wind power energy production.
  • Uranium: Although uranium mining in Wyoming is much less active than it was in previous decades, recent increases in the price of uranium have generated new interest in uranium prospecting and mining.

Wind River Indian Reservation

WindRiverCanyon
Wind River Canyon

The Wind River Indian Reservation is shared by the Eastern Shoshone and Northern Arapaho tribes of Native Americans in the central western portion of the state near Lander. The reservation is home to 2,500 Eastern Shoshone and 5,000 Northern Arapaho.

Chief Washakie established the reservation in 1868 as the result of negotiations with the federal government in the Fort Bridger Treaty. However, the Northern Arapaho were forced onto the Shoshone reservation in 1876 by the federal government after the government failed to provide a promised separate reservation.

Today the Wind River Indian Reservation is jointly owned, with each tribe having a 50% interest in the land, water, and other natural resources. The reservation is a sovereign, self-governed land with two independent governing bodies: the Eastern Shoshone Tribal Government and the Northern Arapaho Tribal Government. The Eastern Shoshone Business Council meets jointly with the Northern Arapaho Business Council as the Joint Business Council to decide matters that affect both tribes. Six elected council members from each tribe serve on the joint council.

Counties

Further information: List of counties in Wyoming

The state of Wyoming has 23 counties.

Wyoming counties map
An enlargeable map of the 23 counties of Wyoming
The 23 counties of the state of Wyoming
Rank County Population Rank County Population
1 Laramie 94,483 13 Converse 14,008
2 Natrona 78,621 14 Goshen 13,636
3 Campbell 47,874 15 Big Horn 11,794
4 Sweetwater 45,267 16 Sublette 10,368
5 Fremont 41,110 17 Platte 8,756
6 Albany 37,276 18 Johnson 8,615
7 Sheridan 29,596 19 Washakie 8,464
8 Park 28,702 20 Crook 7,155
9 Teton 21,675 21 Weston 7,082
10 Uinta 21,025 22 Hot Springs 4,822
11 Lincoln 17,961 23 Niobrara 2,456
12 Carbon 15,666 Wyoming Total 576,412

Wyoming license plates contain a number on the left that indicates the county where the vehicle is registered, ranked by an earlier census. Specifically, the numbers are representative of the property values of the counties in 1930. The county license plate numbers are as follows:

License
Plate
Prefix
County License
Plate
Prefix
County License
Plate
Prefix
County
1 Natrona 9 Big Horn 17 Campbell
2 Laramie 10 Fremont 18 Crook
3 Sheridan 11 Park 19 Uinta
4 Sweetwater 12 Lincoln 20 Washakie
5 Albany 13 Converse 21 Weston
6 Carbon 14 Niobrara 22 Teton
7 Goshen 15 Hot Springs 23 Sublette
8 Platte 16 Johnson    

Cities and towns

Casperskyline

The State of Wyoming has 99 incorporated municipalities.

Most Populous Wyoming Cities and Towns
Rank City County Population
1 Cheyenne Laramie 60,096
2 Casper Natrona 55,988
3 Laramie Albany 31,312
4 Gillette Campbell 29,389
5 Rock Springs Sweetwater 23,229
6 Sheridan Sheridan 17,517
7 Green River Sweetwater 12,622
8 Evanston Uinta 12,282
9 Riverton Fremont 10,867
10 Jackson Teton 9,710
11 Cody Park 9,653
12 Rawlins Carbon 9,203
13 Lander Fremont 7,571
14 Torrington Goshen 6,690
15 Powell Park 6,314

In 2005, 50.6% of Wyomingites lived in one of the 13 most populous Wyoming municipalities.

Metropolitan areas

The United States Census Bureau has defined two Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSA) and seven Micropolitan Statistical Areas (MiSA) for the State of Wyoming. In 2008, 30.4% of Wyomingites lived in either of the Metropolitan Statistical Areas, and 73% lived in either a Metropolitan Statistical Area or a Micropolitan Statistical Area.

CheyenneWY downtown
Cheyenne
Metropolitan and Micropolitan Statistical Areas
Census Area County Population
Cheyenne Laramie County, Wyoming 95,809
Casper Natrona County, Wyoming 80,973
Gillette Campbell County, Wyoming 48,176
Rock Springs Sweetwater County, Wyoming 45,237
Jackson Teton County, Wyoming 32,543
Teton County, Idaho 10,275
Total 42,818
Riverton Fremont County, Wyoming 40,998
Laramie Albany County, Wyoming 37,422
Sheridan Sheridan County, Wyoming 29,824
Evanston Uinta County, Wyoming 21,066

State symbols

Indian Paintbrush in Grand Teton NP-NPS
State flower of Wyoming: Indian paintbrush

List of all Wyoming state symbols:

Images


Wyoming Facts for Kids. Kiddle Encyclopedia.