Wyoming: it’s known as the Equality State and the Cowboy State. Famous for its remote, mountainous terrain, wonderful national parks (including Yellowstone National Park and Grand Teton National Park), and for its role along the Oregon Trail, the state of Wyoming is home to the first national monument in the country and for the first female governor.
But do you know some of the lesser-known facts, like how Butch Cassidy’s gang got its name or which hotel in Buffalo is supposedly haunted?
In this article, we’ll answer the question “what is Wyoming known for?” Read on to learn more about Wyoming’s history, culture, and intrigue.
- What is Wyoming Known For?
- 1. Cheyenne Frontier Days
- 2. Yellowstone National Park
- 3. Grand Teton National Park
- 4. Jackson Hole
- 5. Mining
- 6. Ghost Towns
- 7. The Wind River Range
- 8. Devil’s Tower
- 9. Thunder Basin National Grassland
- 10. Dude Ranches
- 11. Longmire
- 12. Equality
- 13. The Continental Divide
- 14. Islands
- 15. The Oregon Trail
- 16. Independence Rock
- 17. Medicine Wheel
- 18. Dick Cheney
- 19. Rodeos
- 20. Matthew Shepard
- 21. South Pass
- 22. Hot Springs
- 23. Taxes
- 24. Chris LeDoux
- 25. Bison
- 26. Fort Laramie
- 27. Buffalo Bill
- 28. The Buffalo Bill Center
- 29. The Occidental Hotel
- 30. National Historic Trails Interpretive Center
- 31. Hole-in-the-Wall
- FAQs About Famous Wyoming Things
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What is Wyoming Known For?
1. Cheyenne Frontier Days
Wyoming encapsulates the culture of the American cowboy. One example of this tradition on display is the annual Cheyenne Frontier Days event, the world’s largest rodeo, and western festival. The themed event includes wild west shows, an old frontier town, and an Indian village. There are also concerts, rides, and a midway.
2. Yellowstone National Park
Yellowstone is the world’s oldest national park, sits atop a super volcano, and contains 10,000 thermal features. There are hundreds of geysers in the park, with the most famous being Old Faithful. It also contains the largest concentration of mammals in the continental United States.
❗ Trivia Time: Did you know Yellowstone falls in 3 different states? Find out what states Yellowstone is in here.
3. Grand Teton National Park
Grand Teton National Park is located only ten miles south of Yellowstone and is named for its 13,776-foot peak. The Snake River runs through the park and is renowned for fly-fishing, and rock climbers flock to the jagged granite mountains. The park is home to the pronghorn antelope, the fastest mammal in the Western Hemisphere.
4. Jackson Hole
Jackson Hole in Wyoming is a town located in one of the most affluent counties in the nation and is in a valley between two mountain ranges. The town is popular amongst tourists and skiers, and serves as an access point to Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Parks. It is also common for celebrities and other wealthy people to have vacation homes in Jackson.
Wyoming has many mineral deposits that have been targets of mining over the state’s history. It has the world’s largest bentonite deposits, accounting for about 70% of the world’s supply. It also contains a great deal of uranium and trona. Coal mining has also played a significant role in the state’s economy.
❗ Trivia Time: Find out which states the Rocky Mountains are in!
6. Ghost Towns
Wyoming is rife with ghost towns–mostly abandoned frontier outposts from the days of the Oregon Trail. Some notable examples are South Pass City (an abandoned gold mining town) and Piedmont (an old refueling point for the Union Pacific Railroad). Many of Wyoming’s ghost towns can be visited and contain the remnants of saloons, general stores, and churches.
7. The Wind River Range
The Wind River Range is part of the Rocky Mountains. Part of the east side of the range falls within the Wind River Indian Reservation (featured in the neo-western crime film Wind River). Within the mountain range, the hiking trails are remote, and accidents (including from bears and from falls) occur regularly.
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8. Devil’s Tower
Devil’s Tower is a famous butte (flattened hill) in the Black Hills of northeastern Wyoming. Devil’s Tower National Monument was the first national monument in the United States. The name comes from a botched translation of the feature’s Native American name, erroneously taken to mean “Bad God’s Tower.”
9. Thunder Basin National Grassland
Thunder Basin National Grassland in northeastern Wyoming is located in the Powder River Basin. It is a popular natural area for hiking, hunting, and fishing. Ecologically, the land is a transition zone between the Great Plains to the east and the sagebrush steppe to the west.
10. Dude Ranches
The Dude Ranchers Association describes Wyoming as “true Cowboy country,” and they list 27 different Wyoming ranch resorts for guests on their website. The largest dude ranches (in terms of guest capacity) include Eatons’ Ranch in Wolf, A Bar A Ranch in Encampment, Triangle X Ranch in Moose, and Paradise Ranch in Buffalo.
Longmire is a modern western crime drama television series set in the fictional Absaroka County, Wyoming. The town of Buffalo in northeastern Wyoming is the setting for some of the scenes. In 2013, the series was awarded the Bronze Wrangler award by the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum.
Wyoming is nicknamed the Equality State. Despite the state’s modern conservative streak, Wyoming was the first state in the nation to grant women the right to vote (in 1869). In 1870, Esther Morris became the first female justice of the peace (in South Pass City, Wyoming). In 1925, Nellie Tayloe Ross became the country’s first female governor.
13. The Continental Divide
The Continental Divide of the Americas is a major hydrological divide, meaning that precipitation that falls on one side of the divide will flow to the Pacific, and rain on the other side will flow to the Atlantic. The divide enters Wyoming in its northwestern corner and passes through Yellowstone National Park.
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Did you know that Wyoming has 35 named islands? Most of the islands are located in Jackson Lake (in Grand Teton National Park) and Yellowstone Lake (in Yellowstone National Park). Some rivers, including the Green River, also contain islands.
15. The Oregon Trail
The Oregon Trail was a 2,170-mile-long wagon route that ran east-west across the United States originally laid by fur trappers. It was used for the migration of people during the western expansion of the U.S. The trail passed across the land that is now Wyoming. In 1869, when the first transcontinental railroad was completed, the use of the Oregon Trail decreased.
16. Independence Rock
Independence Rock was an important landmark along wagon trails like the Oregon Trail, and Independence Rock State Historic Site is now maintained by the National Park Service. The feature got its name after a group of fur trappers camped at the rock on the 4th of July. Many wagon travelers subsequently camped at the rock and carved messages into the monolith, almost like a primitive bulletin board.
❗ Trivia Time: The abbreviation of Wyoming is WY.
17. Medicine Wheel
The Medicine Wheel/Medicine Mountain National Historic Landmark is located in the Bighorn Mountains of Wyoming. The Medicine Wheel is a stone structure made of white limestone that was a place for sacred indigenous ceremonies. However, it is not known exactly what tribe built the Medicine Wheel, or when.
18. Dick Cheney
Dick Cheney is an American politician who served as Vice President under George W. Bush. Born in Nebraska, Cheney spent much of his childhood in Casper, Wyoming and attended the University of Wyoming. His daughter Liz Cheney has represented Wyoming in Congress since 2017.
The rodeo is Wyoming’s state sport. The largest rodeo occurs at the Cheyenne Frontier Days festival, but the city of Cody is known as the Rodeo Capital of the World. Rodeos are common in most Wyoming towns during the summer, and events often include bareback riding, steer wrestling, team roping, barrel racing, and bull riding.
20. Matthew Shepard
University of Wyoming college student Matthew Shepard was tortured and killed in Laramie due to anti-gay sentiment. The perpetrators were convicted of first-degree murder and received two consecutive life sentences. Matthew Shepard’s death led to the reform of hate crime legislation in the United States.
21. South Pass
South Pass is made up of two mountain passes of the Rocky Mountains along the Continental Divide. A “mountain pass” is a navigable route through a mountain. South Pass was long known to Native Americans and became popular with travelers on the various wagon trails passing through the area. In 1812, a group of fur trappers with John Jacob Astor’s Pacific Fur Company recorded an account of their trip through the pass.
22. Hot Springs
There are numerous hot mineral springs in Wyoming, including Hot Springs State Park in Thermopolis. In 1897, it became Wyoming’s first state park in a land deal between the Eastern Shoshone and Northern Arapaho tribes and the federal government. The Star Plunge center is nearby, where you can find water slides into thermal pools and a game room for kids.
Wyoming is unique in not levying an individual or corporate income tax. Wyoming also does not collect inheritance tax, and there’s a limited estate tax. Wyoming has been rated the most “business-friendly” state in the nation.
❗ Trivia Time: Find out which states the Colorado River runs through!
24. Chris LeDoux
Although country singer Chris LeDoux was born in Biloxi, Mississippi, his family moved to Cheyenne (the state capital) when he was in high school. In 1970, he became a professional rodeo cowboy on the national circuit. After retiring from rodeo competitions in 1980, LeDoux’s music career took off. He often rode a mechanical bull between acts.
The bison, also known as buffalo, is the state animal of Wyoming. The American bison is the largest animal in North America and is featured at the center of the Wyoming state flag. They have lived in the Yellowstone and Grand Teton areas since prehistoric times. The Jackson bison herd consists of 567 bison.
26. Fort Laramie
Fort Laramie was a 19th-century trading post (largely of furs) now operated as a historic site by the National Park Service. Located at the confluence of the Laramie and North Platte Rivers, it was one of the most significant centers of commerce for the region. Fort Laramie is one of the stops in the Oregon Trail computer game series.
27. Buffalo Bill
William Frederick Cody (more commonly known as Buffalo Bill) was a bison hunter and popular peddler of western shows. He was a rider for the Pony Express and fought for the Union in the Civil War. In 1896, Buffalo Bill founded a Wyoming city named after him: Cody. He attempted to draw tourists to his town via railroad, and he operated a dude ranch there as an attraction.
28. The Buffalo Bill Center
The Buffalo Bill Center of the West in Cody is a complex of five museums celebrating the West. The museums include the Buffalo Bill Museum (about the American cowboy), the Draper Natural History Museum, the Plains Indian Museum, the Cody Firearms Museum, and the Whitney Western Art Museum.
29. The Occidental Hotel
The Historic Occidental Hotel in Buffalo is steeped in both history and legend. The hotel takes visitors back to the Old West with its 1908 saloon and legacy dating back to its founding in 1880. The hotel hosted guests like Buffalo Bill, Calamity Jane, and Teddy Roosevelt. The old hotel is also purportedly haunted.
30. National Historic Trails Interpretive Center
The National Historic Trails Interpretive Center is a museum complex operated by the Department of Interior (Bureau of Land Management) in Casper. The Trails Center covers Native American inhabitants of Wyoming, early trails like the Oregon Trail, Bozeman Trail, and Pony Express, and early explorers and traders.
Hole-in-the-Wall is a remote mountain pass in the Bighorn Mountains. The location is most famous as the namesake of the Hole-in-the-Wall gang, a group of outlaws that included Black Jack Ketchum and Butch Cassidy. Butch Cassidy’s gang met at a remote log cabin in the area.
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FAQs About Famous Wyoming Things
What famous people are from Wyoming?
Famous people from Wyoming include painter Jackson Pollock, singer and rodeo star Chris LeDoux, and outlaws like Black Jack Ketchum and Butch Cassidy. As the Equality State, there are also several important female historical figures from Wyoming, including the first female governor in the country, Nellie Tayloe Ross.
What foods is Wyoming famous for?
Wyoming is famous for a variety of western foods. One example is rocky mountain oysters or fried calf bull testicles. Meat like steak, chicken fried steak, jerky, brisket, and ribs are commonly consumed. Chili, especially white chili, is also common.
Now you don’t have to wonder “what is wyoming known for” anymore!
In conclusion, Wyoming is known for its cowboy culture, from dude ranches to brisket.
It has some stunning nature and famous sites from the olden days like Independence Rock and Fort Laramie. Many of these are now national monuments.
From the great plains to the largest city and state capital, Cheyenne, Wyoming offers something for the city lover, nature lover, and Old West lover.
To truly appreciate the Cowboy State, come visit a dude ranch, explore Yellowstone, or hike in its national forests! You may not want to leave.