Independence Rock (Wyoming)

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Independence Rock
Independence Rock

Independence Rock is a large granite rock, approximately 120 ft (36 mi) high, in southwestern Natrona County, Wyoming. During the middle of the 19th century, the rock was a prominent and well-known landmark on the Oregon Trail. In addition, it was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1961. It is now part of Independence Rock State Historic Site, owned and operated by the State of Wyoming.


The large is a large rounded extrusion of Archaen granite typically of the surrounding region. Its appearance is somewhat like the rounded Enchanted Rock of Texas or the Uluru, although smaller in size. It is located in the high plateau region of central Wyoming, north of the Green Mountains and close to the Sweetwater River. It is accessible from a rest area on Wyoming Highway 220, approximately 20 mi (32 km) northeast of Muddy Gap.

The rock derives its name from the fact that is lay directly along the route of the Emigrant Trail and that specifically emigrant wagon parties bound for Oregon or California, which usually left the Missouri River in the early spring, attempted to reach the rock by July 4 (Independence Day in the United States), in order to reach their destinations before the first mountain snowfalls in autumn.

During the period of westward emigration on the trail (from 1843 to 1869), it was common for emigrants to carve their names in the granite rock, especially near the summit. Other emigrants left behind messages, sometimes for parties behind them on the trial, in axle grease. Many instances of such carved graffiti is visible today at the summit of the rock, which is accessible by an easy free climb up the surface of the rock.


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