You Can Still Visit Landmarks From The Oregon Trail Right Here In Wyoming
From 1836 through the late 1890s, nearly half a million people gathered up as part of wagon trails to head out from the Midwest to get to the Pacific Coast. These travelers used established trails – the Oregon, California, and Mormon Trail – that all made their way through Wyoming! Many of us have a family history that dates back to those who traveled the Oregon Trail in Wyoming, and you can visit plenty of sites in the state to see the evidence from this huge migration.
Some of the evidence of the Oregon Trail in Wyoming is obvious - like the wagon ruts in Guernsey State Park.
The pathway to Oregon, California, and Salt Lake City was well established, and wagon ruts show exactly where these immigrants caravans were able to carve through the softer rock.
Fort Laramie was built in 1834, where the Laramie and North Platte Rivers meet. It was an important trading spot for travelers and one of the first places they saw in Wyoming.
It was originally called Fort William. Today, you can visit the Fort Laramie Historic Site to learn about the history of the Fort and the region.
Many people heading west stopped at Register Cliff, near Guernsey, to carve their name into the soft stone.
Today, this is a preserved site where you can see prominent signatures of those who made the journey.
Ayres Natural Bridge was one of the first roadside attractions.
This one of a kind natural bridge was a spot just off the trail where travelers could rest for a bit. It drew a lot of attention for its unique formation.
The Parting of the Ways, near Lander, was a spot where two trails split - travelers going to Utah and California went south, and those seeking the Willamette Valley took the Northern trail.
You'll find a monument to this spot along WY-28, though the true Parting of the Ways is 10 miles away. However, by the time that was realized, the interpretive site was already established. Rather than move it to a location farther from the road, a sign explains the mix-up.
Farther along, the Lander Cut-Off was an important shortcut to get through the South Pass area.
This cut-off road was the first federally funded road project west of the Mississippi River! It was established in 1857 and made it safer for travelers to get through the Green River Basin. The route hosted wagon trails as late as 1912.
Traveling the Oregon Trail in Wyoming was dangerous, and river crossings were risky. If you've ever played the computer game, you know that river ferries were expensive, but often worth it.
There are several historic ferry sites in Wyoming still, like this one along the Green River in Sweetwater County.
Fort Bridger was one of the last stops before reaching Salt Lake City! It was established by Jim Bridger and Louis Vasquez in 1843.
In the 1850s, it was owned and operated by Mormons looking to help those who were on a pilgrimage to their holy city.
Independence Rock served as a "register of the West", and a landmark along the trail.
Today, this site is a popular spot for history buffs to explore. You can even climb to the top for an incredible view!
Have you visited any of the sites along the Oregon Trail in Wyoming? We’d love to hear about it!
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Independence Rock State Historic Site, WY-220, Alcova, WY 82620, USA
Guernsey Ruts, Guernsey, WY 82214, USA
Ayres Natural Bridge Park, 208 Natural Bridge Rd, Douglas, WY 82633, USA
South Pass City, WY 82520, USA
WY-28, Lander, WY 82520, USA
Register Cliff, Wyoming, USA
Fort Bridger, WY 82933, USA