The Cowboy State

Where is it?

State Flag




Rocky Mountain West
Geographic coordinates:
41°N to 45°N
104°3'W to 111°3'W
total: 97,818 sq mi
land: 97,105 sq mi
water: 714 sq mi
coastline: N/A
shoreline: N/A
Bordering States:
Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nebraska, South Dakota, Utah
Elevation extremes:
lowest point: Belle Fourche River 3,099 ft
highest point: Gannett Peak 13,804 ft
The Great Plains meet the Rocky Mountains in Wyoming. The state is a great plateau broken by a number of important mountain ranges. In the northwest are the Absaroka, the Owl Creek, Wyoming, 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 portion of Wyoming, the Laramie, Medicine Bow and Sierra Madre ranges.

Wyoming is generally considered an arid state with much of the land receiving less than 10 inches (25 cm) of rainfall per year. Consequently, the land supports few opportunities for farming. Ranching, however, is widespread, especially in areas near the numerous mountain chains. There are several major mountain ranges in the state; all are part of the Rocky Mountains. 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 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) and represents the most impressive section of mountains in the state. It is home to Grand Teton, the second highest peak in Wyoming, and to Grand Teton National Park, which preserves the most scenic section of the Teton range.

Several rivers begin or flow through the state, including the Yellowstone River, Powder River, and the Snake River.

The Continental Divide forks in the south central part of the state. The waters that flow or precipitate into this area, known as the Great Divide Basin, do not flow to any ocean. Instead, because of the overall aridity of Wyoming, they simply sink into the soil or evaporate. Rivers east of the Divide drain into the Missouri River Basin and eventually the Atlantic Ocean. They are the 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.




584,153 (2014)
Largest City:
Cheyenne: 59,466 (2010)
Age structure:
0-5 years old: 6.1%
<18 years old: 23.1%
65 years and over: 12.1%
Male: 50.4% Female:49.6%
Population growth rate:
3.1% (2000-2005)
Population density:
5.1 per sq mi
Race(2000 Census):
White non-Hispanic: 88.6%
Hispanic: 6.7%
Black: 0.9%
Asian: 0.6%
Native American: 2.4%
Multi-Race: 1.2%
Christian: 78%
Other: 1%
Non-Religious: 21%




The region known today as the state of Wyoming was originally inhabited by several Native American groups. The name Wyoming is derived from the Delaware (Lenape) machewe-ami-ing, which roughly translates as "mountains and valleys alternating" The Crow, Arapaho, Sioux, and Shoshone were but a few of the original inhabitants encountered when white explorers first entered the region. Although French trappers may have ventured into the northern sections of the state in the late 1700s, John Colter, a member of the Lewis and Clark Expedition, was probably the first white American to enter the region in 1807. His reports of the Yellowstone area were considered at the time to be fictional. Robert Stuart and a party of five men returning from Astoria discovered South Pass in 1812. The route was later followed by the Oregon Trail. In 1850, Jim Bridger located what is now known as Bridger Pass, which was later used by both the Union Pacific Railroad in 1868, and in the 20th century by Interstate 80. Bridger also explored the Yellowstone region and like Colter, most of his reports on that region of the state were considered at the time to be tall tales.

After the Union Pacific Railroad reached the town of Cheyenne, which later became the state capital, in 1867, the population began to grow steadily in the Wyoming Territory, which was established on July 25, 1868.[2] Unlike Colorado to the south, Wyoming never experienced a rapid population boom from any major mineral discoveries such as gold or silver. Copper was found in some areas of the state.

Once government sponsored expeditions to the Yellowstone country were undertaken, the previous reports by men like Colter and Bridger were found to be true. This led to the creation of Yellowstone National Park, which became the world's first National Park in 1872. It is located in the far northwestern portion of the state. Most of the territory that comprises Yellowstone National Park is located in Wyoming.

Wyoming was admitted to the Union on July 10, 1890. It was named after the Wyoming Valley of Pennsylvania, made famous by the 1809 poem Gertrude of Wyoming by Thomas Campbell. The name was suggested by Representative J. M. Ashley of Ohio.

In 1869, Wyoming extended much suffrage to women, at least partially in an attempt to garner enough votes to be admitted as a state. In addition to being the first U.S. state to extend suffrage to women, Wyoming was also the home of many other firsts for U.S. women in politics. For the first time, women served on a jury 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). In 1924, Wyoming became the first state in the Union to elect a female governor, Nellie Tayloe Ross, who took office the following January.

Wyoming was the location of the Johnson County War of 1892 which was fought between large cattle operators and free ranging interest groups. This war was fought because of the new ranchers moving in following the passage of the homestead act.




July 10, 1890 (44th State)
State Tree:
State Bird:
Western Meadowlark
State Flower:
Indian Paintbrush
Wyoming law establishes three branches of government: executive, legislative, and judicial branches.

Because of its low population, Wyoming only has 3 votes in the electoral college. It is also due to this low population that individuals in Wyoming technically have a more powerful vote in presidential elections than anyone else in the United States. For example, while Montana has a population of 902,195 to Wyoming's 493,782, they both receive the same number of electoral votes.

Wyoming is an alcoholic beverage control state.

Wyoming's highest court is the Supreme Court of Wyoming, with five justices presiding over appeals from the state's lower courts. Wyoming is unique in that it does not have an intermediate appellate court, like most states. This is largely attributable to the state's size and correspondingly lower caseload. Appeals from the state district courts go directly to the Wyoming Supreme Court. Wyoming also has state circuit courts (formerly county courts), of limited jurisdiction, which handle certain types of cases, such as civil claims with lower dollar amounts, misdemeanor criminal offenses, and felony arraignments. Circuit court judges also commonly hear small claims cases as well. All state court judges in Wyoming are nominated by the Judicial Nominating Commission and appointed by the Governor. They are then subject to a retention vote by the electorate.




According to the 2005 U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis report, Wyoming’s gross state product was $27.4 billion. The per capita personal income was $53,843 in 2005, ranking 5th in the nation. Wyoming’s unemployment rate for 2006 was approximately 3.3%, which is lower than the national average of 4.6%. Components of Wyoming's economy differ significantly from those of other states. The mineral extraction industry and the travel and tourism sector are the main drivers behind Wyoming’s economy. The Federal government owns 50% of its landmass, while 6% is controlled by the state. Total taxable values of mining production in Wyoming for 2001 was over $6.7 billion. The tourism industry accounts for over $2 billion in revenue for the state.

In 2002, over six million people visited Wyoming’s national parks and monuments. The key tourist attractions in Wyoming include Grand Teton National Park, Yellowstone National Park, Devil’s Tower National Monument, and Fossil Butte National Monument. Each year Yellowstone National Park receives three million visitors.

Historically, agriculture has been an important component of Wyoming’s economic identity. Its overall importance to the performance of Wyoming’s economy has waned. However, it is still an essential part of Wyoming’s culture and lifestyle. The main agricultural commodities produced in Wyoming include livestock (beef), hay, sugar beets, grain (wheat and barley), and wool. Over 91% of land in Wyoming is classified as rural.

Wyoming’s mineral commodities include coal, natural gas, coal bed methane, crude oil, uranium, and trona. Wyoming ranks highest in mining employment in the U.S. In fiscal year 2002, Wyoming collected over $48 million in sales taxes from the mining industry.