Independence Rock State Historic Site

A long smooth green-brown buttress set against a bright blue sky, and grassy valley.
Visit Independence Rock State Historic Site.

NPS Photo

Quick Facts
west of Alcova, Wyoming
The most-noted landmark of the wagon trails west of Fort Laramie
Wyoming State Historic Site

Historical/Interpretive Information/Exhibits, Restroom, Trailhead

Independence Rock was the most-noted landmark of the wagon trails west of Fort Laramie. The rock derived its name from a party of fur trappers who camped and celebrated Independence Day near the rock on July 4, 1830. Eventually, thousands of emigrants camped at the foot of this 1,900 feet long by 850 feet wide granite outcrop. They carved their names and messages into the granite, using Independence Rock as a bulletin board for Oregon Trail travelers. In 1961, it was designated a national historic landmark managed by the State of Wyoming.

Today, the site contains a footpath that goes around the base of the rock, interpretive exhibits that tell the trail story, visible trail ruts (a deep wagon swale passes beneath the path's footbridge), and emigrant inscriptions. Hiking is allowed on the rock; however, please avoid walking on the earliest inscriptions as they are wearing thin.

Emigrant Remarks

On July 26, 1849, J. Goldsborough Bruff

"reached Independence Rock . . . at a distance looks like a huge whale. It is being painted & marked every way, all over, with names, dates, initials, &c - so that it was with difficulty I could find a place to inscribe it."

Site Information

Location (west of Alcova, Wyoming)

Safety Considerations

More Site Information

Oregon National Historic Trail

California National Historic Trail

Mormon Pioneer National Historic Trail

Pony Express National Historic Trail

California National Historic Trail, Mormon Pioneer National Historic Trail, Oregon National Historic Trail, Pony Express National Historic Trail

Last updated: May 14, 2024