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Wyoming > Wyoming State Parks and Historic Sites > Independence Rock State Historic Site
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Independence Rock State Historic Site

Independence Rock State Historic Site
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General Information

Description - The initial movement of the Mormons from Nauvoo, Illinois, to the Valley of the Great Salt Lake occurred in two segments, one in 1846 and one in 1847. The first leg of the journey across Iowa to the Missouri River covered around 265 miles. The second leg, from the Missouri River to the Valley of the Great Salt Lake covered about 1,032 miles. The second leg of the journey began on April 5, 1847 and ended on July 24, 1847. This part of the trip went smoother than the previous year's journey due to better organization, better provisions and beginning when the trail conditions were optimal. The lead pioneer party left with 148 people (143 men, 3 women and 2 young boys), 72 wagons, 93 horses, 66 oxen, 52 mules, 19 cows, 17 dogs, and some chickens. This hand-picked group was organized into two large divisions and further split into companies of 50 and 10. This organizational structure was based on Brigham Young's plan for migrating west and included details on camp behavior and devotional practices to be followed. At Fort Laramie the Mormons crossed to the south side of the river and joined the Oregon Trail. At Fort Bridger State Historic Site, they struck out on their own and followed the faint year-old tracks of the ill-fated Donner-Reed party. The last 116 miles took 14 days to complete and were very demanding due to difficult terrain, weary travelers, worn wagons and weakened livestock. Upon arriving at the Valley, this first party began planting late crops, laying out streets, building shelters and preparing for winter. Mormon emigrants continued to arrive during the remaining weeks of summer and fall. Approximately 1,650 people spent their first winter in the valley. The
next 20 years would see about 70,000 Mormons traveling by wagon and handcarts over the Mormon Pioneer Trail.

Attractions - Independence Rock stands 6,028 feet above sea level. The tallest point of the rock is 136 feet above the surrounding terrain. If one were to walk around the base of this rock, the distance covered would be more than a mile, or 5,900 feet. The mass of Independence Rock is equal to an area of 24.81 acres. Many people believe that the shape of this highly polished, round outcropping was created by the glaciers. Not so. A process known to geologists as "exfoliation" is how the rock came to have its sleek and round form. As Independence Rock was slowly uncovered by erosion, the immense pressures of the weight of overlying rock were gradually lessened. The rock then expanded outwardly shedding its surface layers like an onion. Layers of granite broke off, one after the other and formed the rounded shape you see here today.
Windblown sand and silt have grooved the rock and polished it to a high gloss in a process called "windfaceting." It is because of this smoother surface that the pioneers were able to easily carve their names into the rock.

Recreation - Viewing of historical site on the Mormon Pioneer Trail.

Climate - As throughout the Rocky Mountains, the climate varies drastically depending on elevation. Summers generally offer warm clear days with cool nights. Afternoon thunderstorms are often a possibility in the summer. In the winter, sunshine, with plenty of snow in the higher elevations, are ideal for winter activities. Harsh weather - including wind, cold, and snow - is possible throughout the winter and even throughout the year, in the highest elevations.

Location - Independence Rock State Historic Site, located south of Casper on Hwy 220 approximately 43 miles north of Muddy Gap.

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Number of People Encountered: 0-10 ppl
Recommend to a Friend: Highly
Report: My family and I had fun. This is a great picnic spot. We saw lots of wildlife including antelope, different birds and a mountain goat. My children were surprized and amazed at the size and the signatures in the rock. They became intereseted in some history. They also thought the wagon trail ruts were neat. Plan enough time to climb up. My children were very disappointed that we didn't have the chance to. Visit Devil's Gate too. It's close by.

More Information

Contact Information:
Independence Rock State Historic Site, P.O. Box 1596 , Evansville, WY, 82636, Phone: 307-577-5150

Additional Information:
Wyoming Historic Sites -

Scenic Byways Homepage - National Scenic Byways official web site with detailed info on all national and state byways.


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