The Oregon Trail enters southeastern
along the North Platte River a short distance after passing through Mitchell Pass at Scotts
The trail continues northwest into central Wyoming and present-day
Casper before separating from the
and heading southwest across the desert toward the
This is beautiful, sparsely populated country and
the pioneers trek across the high desert west of
Casper often proved a
Southeastern Wyoming boasts several
of the most interesting sites along the
across the state is famous South Pass
whose discovery made possible the trip by wagons across the mountains.
The pass had been discovered decades earlier by fur
traders who were traveling back East from Fort
Southwestern Wyoming was also the point where
pioneers traveling the Mormon Trail separated from emigrants headed for
Wyoming was a difficult trek for
the wagon trains headed to Oregon,
High altitudes, long stretches without water or food
for livestock, and major mountain grades required of the wagons resulted in
a tough stretch of travel for the pioneers headed west.
A number of interesting Oregon Trail sites are
accessible in Wyoming. Among these are (east to west):
1) Fort Laramie - A major stop for emigrants heading west, Fort Laramie
(previously know as Fort William and Fort John) was established in 1834 as a
fur trading post that was utilized by Indians, traders, and trappers until
the arrival of the first emigrants in the early 1840s.
The fort was purchased in 1849 by the government for
use as U.S. Army
The remains of the fort have been restored and Fort Laramie is operated as
a national historic site by the National Park Service.
Visitors can walk among the buildings, view an
audiovisual presentation in the visitor center, and enjoy living history
presentations presented by volunteers and park personnel.
has always been one of our favorite stops when traveling west.
View our video of Fort
2) The Guernsey Ruts - West of Fort Laramie marshy ground surrounding the
North Platte forced
wagon trains across a ridge of soft sandstone through which they carved ruts
up to five feet deep.
We found no site on the Oregon Trail more impressive than
the Guernsey Ruts.
Preserved as a state historic site, the ruts are
easily reached via a short paved walking trail.
The ruts are three miles south of the small town of
that boasts a city campground and nine-hole golf course.
View our video of the
3) Register Cliff - Also near
Guernsey is Register Cliff where emigrants
carved their names and dates (and sometimes their hometowns) into the soft
Much of the sandstone has been defaced by more
recent visitors wanting immortal fame, but pioneer inscriptions remain along
a protected area along the far end of the cliff.
View our video of
4) Independence Rock - Said to be the most-noted
landmark west of Fort Laramie on the
Oregon Trail, Independence Rock is a
giant granite hump near which many emigrants camped on their way west.
Wagon ruts of the trail are clearly visible beneath
a footbridge near the parking lot.
Inscriptions are visible to visitors who are
permitted to climb to the top of the rock.
5) South Pass - A wide, gently-sloping gap in the
Rocky Mountains, South Pass allowed westward-bound wagon trains to avoid the
rugged mountain terrain when crossing the continental divide.
The discovery of the pass decades earlier by fur
traders returning East from the West Coast made travel on the
Oregon Trail possible.
A county road off Wyoming 28 leads to a segment of
the original trail at South Pass.
Bridger - In the extreme
southwestern corner of present-day
Bridger served as
a supply center for pioneers on the
Oregon, California, and
The fort was operated by famed mountain man Jim
Bridger who with a partner built the fort in 1843 following a decline in the
Ownership was assumed by the Mormons in the 1850s.
They subsequently burned the fort that was taken
over by the military.
Bridger is now
operated by the state of
Wyoming as a state historic
Visitors can walk the grounds, tour the buildings, and take
in the museum.
The Oregon Trail in Wyoming:
Crossing the Rocky Mountains