Wyoming Hiking, Nature February 09, 2020
Enjoy Expansive Views From Atop An Oregon Trail Landmark At Wyoming’s Independence Rock
During the American migration to the West, thousands of migrants traveled through Wyoming in search of a better life. They brought their families and children into unknown territory, and while every wagon train excursion experienced different struggles, many of them experienced the joy and accomplishment of arriving at Independence Rock.
When thousands of immigrants were heading West along the Oregon Trail, they faced harsh weather, drought, sparse food, and plenty of other challenges along the way.
Perhaps no challenge was greater than crossing through the Rocky Mountains. If a trip were ill-timed, the mountains would be covered in snow, forcing a wagon party to endure a brutal winter and delaying their journey west.
One landmark along the trail became a goal for the migrants. If they reached Independence Rock in southern Wyoming by, well, Independence Day, then chances were good they would make it through the Sawtooth Mountains before the snowpack made it impossible.
Independence Rock became one of the legendary landmarks of the Oregon Trail, and marked the beginning of the hardest part of the wagon train journey.
When travelers passed through, they often carved their names onto the rock. It served as a "register of the West" and the names are still easy to see to this day.
When you visit, you can observe all of the various rock carvings that immigrants used to mark their journey west.
It's easy to see how Independence Rock became so well know - it's an enormous formation that's hard to miss.
The rock is easy to see from a distance, and if you were to walk the trail all the way around, you would be traveling more than a mile!
Many people don't realize that visitors can actually climb Independence Rock.
As long as you are careful and respectful, you can make your way up to the top with just a little scrambling.
You'll truly appreciate the scale and size of the landmark when you make your way to the top!
There are a few easy routes, and the summit is an incredible place to pause and reflect on the significance of the journey west.
The view from the top lets you see for miles!
Take the time to look all around, and you'll be able to see the various landscapes that migrants crossed on their way to South Pass and into the mountains.
On a clear day, you can see for miles and miles.
For those who made it to the rock, all that they endured would soon be worth it. When they finally arrived in the Willamette Valley, in California, or in Salt Lake City, their new lives were just beginning.
From way up here, southern Wyoming is absolutely beautiful!
We are so lucky to live in a state with diverse landscapes, natural wonders, and remarkable history.
Make plans to visit and climb Independence Rock this year and you'll gain a new appreciation for Wyoming history.
You can learn more about the Oregon Trail in Wyoming by visiting the
National Historic Trails Museum in Casper, which is not far from Independence Rock itself. Address: Independence Rock State Historic Site, WY-220, Alcova, WY 82620, USA